No Fail, Sour Cream Pastry Crust

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Move aside food processor! Be gone tough pie crusts! I hath found the holy grail of pastry doughs.

It is flaky, it is buttery, it is un-fussy, and it needs no difficult-to-clean equipment, just your clean hands and a large bowl. The secret?

Sour cream. No added water, instead you add sour cream. I’m not kidding. This method works and it couldn’t be easier.

The recipe comes from my friend, former Zuni Cafe chef Kathi Riley, who has been using it as her go-to pastry crust recipe for 25 years and who graciously shared it with me to share with you. Enjoy!

No Fail, Sour Cream Pastry Crust Recipe

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  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Dough chilling time: 1 hour
  • Yield: Makes dough for 2 single crusts, or 1 double crust

This recipe makes enough dough for a top and bottom crust for a 9-inch pie.

Kathi's basic ratio is 1 cup flour: 1 stick butter: 1/4 cup sour cream: 1/2 teaspoon salt: 1 teaspoon sugar. These are the amounts for a single-crust 9-inch pie.

If you are making a 10-inch pie, use 2 1/2 cups flour, 2 1/2 sticks (10 ounces, 1  1/4 cup) butter, 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp sour cream for a double crust, or 1 1/4 cups flour, 1 1/4 sticks (5 ounces) butter, 1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp sour cream for a single crust.

Do NOT use this recipe if you need to pre-bake a crust. This pastry crust recipe does not pre-bake well.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (260 g) all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoons of salt
  • 2 teaspoons of sugar (for sweet recipes, otherwise skip)
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter (1 cups, 8 ounces, 225 g) cubed
  • 1/2 cup (115 ml) sour cream (full fat, NOT light sour cream)

Method

1 Cut butter into cubes and let sit for a couple minutes: Cut the butter into cubes and put in a warm spot to take the chill off (don't soften the butter, just let it sit out for couple minutes when you take it out of the fridge).

2 Whisk together flour, salt, sugar: In a large bowl, vigorously whisk together the flour, salt (omit if using salted butter), and sugar (if using).

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3 Work the butter into the flour with your hands: Sprinkled the cubes of butter over the flour. Use your clean hands to squish the flour and butter together with your thumbs and fingers. Work the butter into the dough until you have what resembles a coarse meal with some chunks of butter.

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4 Add sour cream: Add the sour cream to the flour butter mixture. Use a fork to incorporate into the mixture.

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5 Form dough into disks, refrigerate: Use your hands to gather the pastry dough together into a large ball. Use a knife to cut the ball in half. Form into two disks.

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Sprinkle all over with a little flour. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for an hour or up to a day ahead.

If you want to freeze for future use, wrap again, this time with aluminum foil and freeze (leave in refrigerator overnight to thaw before using).

6 Remove dough from fridge, let sit for a few minutes, then roll out: After the dough has been sitting in the fridge for an hour, remove it and let it sit for 5-10 minutes at room temperature to become more malleable before rolling out.

If it still feels too stiff to roll out, hold your hands around the edges to soften.

To roll out, sprinkle a clean, flat surface with flour. As you roll the dough, check to make sure the bottom is not sticking. If it is, lift it up and sprinkle a little flour underneath.

Roll out to 12 to 14 inches wide, to an even thickness.

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You can use this pastry dough for unstructured rustic pies or galettes, or single or double crusted traditional pies. It can also be used for a savory pot pie.

Whether you use the dough for a galette or a double crust pie, it will be prettier with a light egg wash. Just whisk one egg in a small bowl, add a teaspoon of water, and brush lightly over the exposed crust with a pastry brush, right before baking.

Do not use this recipe if you need to pre-bake the pie crust. The the amount of sour cream and butter that make this crust so wonderfully delicious and flakey will cause the sides of the crust to collapse if you bake it without a filling.

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Showing 4 of 69 Comments

  • Jan Degan

    I just made this recipe today – for a little dessert party we’re hosting this evening. I had the ingredients on hand and gave it a try. It surpassed my expectations – and I’ll never use any other recipe again! I made it and rolled out one crust, cut 3″ circles and put in mini muffin tins. Blind baked @ 400′ for ~ 12 minutes. They’re adorable and delicious – will be filled with lemon filling & whipped cream. Can’t wait to try it for a regular pie. Also – the dough is incredibly easy to handle – can re-shape and roll out easily. Thanks so much!

  • Diane Scharf

    I was wondering would there be a problem freezing the pie crust?

  • Brenda

    For my whole life I have avoided pie crust… As a kid I didn’t like it. It always tasted so dry and crumbly and bland. I always preferred crisps. But I’m an adult now, and as delicious as it is, apple crisp doesn’t have quite the same impact as a fresh from scratch apple pie. And since I love to cook people what they love better than it has ever been cooked for them, I decided I have to learn to make a good pie crust.
    Up until today I used your other pie crust recipe, all butter. About 1/3 of the time I got a perfect crust. Another 1/3 of the time I got a chewy dense crust yuck. And the other 1/3 of the time I got a good flaky crust that was so cracked and patched and ugly I was embarrassed to gift the pie. Finally my food processer gave up the ghost and it was time to try something different.
    Oh. My. Gawd!!!!! This is it!!!! The holy grail of pie crust. I would eat this plain with butter. The flavor is that freaking good. Nothing bland about this crust. It browned beautiful, its flakier than my grandma’s, and it was so easy to work with. Thank you thank you thank you!!! My friend gets out of prison next week and his socks are going to be official knocked the heck OFF when I make him apple pie. I can’t wait to see his face!!!!

  • Ruta

    Super flakey and buttery. Everyrhing you want in a crust! We’ve used it for sweet and savory pies and it’s easy and tasty every time.

  • Allison

    I know I’m a bit late to the show here, but I wanted to say that this is really one of the best crusts I have ever tasted and – hands down – the easiest I have ever made. Full-fat sour cream is not as easy to come by in Germany (where I am currently living), but I have had great success with crème fraîche, which is readily available and not as expensive as in the US. At 40% fat, it makes the dough even more flaky and delicious. Thanks for sharing this great recipe! It has made living in a place without pre-made pie crusts so much easier!

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