Recipe: The Pie Hole’s secret pie crust

Rebecca Grasley, co-founder of The Pie Hole, got this recipe from her grandmother Moe.

Pie crusts can be intimidating. But don’t be discouraged, says Becky Grasley, the baker behind The Pie Hole pie shops in Los Angeles and author of “Pie is Messy” (Ten Speed Press, $28).

“There is a learning curve,” she acknowledges. “You’re going to start with a crust that’s too dry, for example, and you won’t be able to roll it out.” It cracks, and you try to glue it back together. But if you start with the flour and shortening, then add the ice water (essential for a flaky crust) and salt, that’s all there is to the crust. You can substitute butter for the shortening or lard. Although practice makes perfect, every crust is delicious.

“It’s never too late to learn,” she continues. “I almost prefer, if you’re going to make a mistake, to make the crust on the soft side and add too much water because when you go to roll it, the flour on the counter will soak up some of it.”

When does your pastry dough become ready? Grasley has an answer as well: “I always say pinch it a little.” If it’s soft and gooshy like a baby’s behind, that’s the feel you’re looking for. I can’t put it better than that.”

Moe’s Pie Dough

1 (9-inch) double-crust pie or 2 (9-inch) single-crust pies


3 cups regular flour

1 cup vegetable shortening, cold

1 tsp. kosher salt

1/2 cup ice-cold water, plus additional as needed


Sprinkle the ice water over the mixture, starting with 1/2 cup, and quickly mix the dough with your hands until it comes together in clumps and can be shaped into a ball. If the mixture is still too crumbly, add 1 tablespoon of cold water at a time. As you mix, keep an eye on the texture. Stop working the dough when it becomes smooth and velvety, like a baby’s behind. Don’t be concerned if you overmix the dough and it becomes an elastic blob. Even if the crust isn’t perfect, you’ll still enjoy the pie in the end. And the next time, you’ll nail this step.

Alternatively, you can use a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment. Combine the flour and salt on low speed. As the shortening begins to combine with the flour, increase the speed to medium. Stop cooking when the mixture becomes grainy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of ice water to the paddle attachment. Stir in more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough is smooth and soft.

Separate the dough into two balls, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for at least 30 minutes, or until ready to roll out the crust.

“Pie is Messy” by Rebecca Grasley and Willy Blackmore (Ten Speed Press, $28)

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