The sour cream in this dough does a couple of good things – it makes the texture tender, a little flaky and a little cakey; and it also makes it just a touch tangy. The dough is very easy to roll and to work with, just be sure to chill it thoroughly after you make it.
If you fall in love with the dough – and I think you will – you can swap it for “regular” pie dough.
GOOD TO KNOW BEFORE YOU START
Quantity: This recipe makes a lot of dough. It makes enough for two 9-inch pie crusts or a double-crusted picnic pie in a quarter-sheet or 9-x-12-inch baking pan. You can cut the recipe in half, if you’d like. If you’re going to make the full batch in a food processor, check the bowl’s capacity in advance – there's a lot of flour and you want to have room for the ingredients to move around.
Chilling: Plan ahead – the dough needs to be refrigerated for at least 3 hours before you roll it out and then, once it’s fitted into the pan, it needs another chill. When I’ve got the time, I like to fit the dough into the pan and then stow the pan in the freezer, so that it’s ready when I am. Wrapped well, the crust will keep in the freezer for 2 months and you can bake it directly from the freezer as long as your pan is made of a material that can safely jump from cold to hot.
4 cups (544 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
3 sticks (12 ounces; 339 grams) very cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
1 cup (240 grams) cold full-fat sour cream
To make the dough in a (LARGE) food processor: Put the flour, sugar and salt in the processor and pulse to blend. Drop in the bits of butter and pulse until you’ve got moist clumps. This can take a minute or more—be sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl from time to time. When you’ve got crumbs that hold together when pinched, add the sour cream and pulse until it’s incorporated and you’ve got a moist dough. Turn it out onto a work surface and gently knead it a couple of times to bring it together.
To make the dough by hand: Whisk the flour, sugar and salt together in a large bowl. Drop in the bits of cold butter, toss to coat them with flour and then, working with your fingertips or a pastry blender, mash and rub the butter into the flour until you’ve got moist crumbs and pieces of stretched and smashed butter – be patient, it’s a lot of ingredients, and it can take a few minutes to reach this stage. Add the sour cream and, working with a fork and your hand, toss and stir everything together as though you were mixing a salad. Then, working either in the bowl or on a work surface, knead the dough a few times to bring it together.
Shape the dough into a chubby log, cut it in half and pat each half into a rectangle (for a picnic pie) or a round (for a pie). Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. (Wrapped well, the dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months. Defrost overnight in its wrapper in the refrigerator.)
The dough rolls easily when chilled. Roll out one piece on a floured work surface, turning it over so that you roll on both sides, and dusting the surface with more flour as you need it.
Roll the dough up on your rolling pin and place it over your pan. Let it fall into the pan and then use your fingers to fit it into place. If you get a crack or tear, mend it by joining the pieces with a moistened finger. If there’s a bare spot, cut off a piece of excess dough, put it on the spot, moisten the borders and patch it together.
Cover and refrigerate until chilled. If you’re making a top crust with the second piece of dough, roll the dough to size between sheets of parchment paper (the paper will make transferring the dough easy). Refrigerate or freeze until cold. (Unbaked crusts can be wrapped well and refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.)
Getting ready to bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat it to 375 degrees F. Place the pan on a baking sheet and fit a piece of buttered parchment or foil against the crust; fill with dried beans or rice.
To partially bake the bottom crust: Bake for 20 minutes, then carefully remove the paper or foil and weights and bake the crust for another 3 to 4 minutes, until just firm; it shouldn’t take on much color.
To fully bake the bottom crust: Bake for 20 minutes, then carefully remove the paper or foil with the weights and bake the crust for about 8 minutes more, until firm and golden.
Transfer the crust to a rack and let cool.
STORING: The dough—rolled out or not, or fitted into the pan—can be wrapped well and frozen for up to 2 months. You can also freeze the baked crust (in the pan) for up to 2 months.