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MARGARET PROUSE: Perfect pastry for Thanksgiving

Apples and pumpkins are both in season, and both make delicious pie fillings.
Apples and pumpkins are both in season, and both make delicious pie fillings.

Pie is a staple at many Thanksgiving feasts, and I’m thankful to have finally found a butter pastry that works for me.

While I was able to make a passable lard-based pie pastry and a tender shortening-based pastry, what I really wanted was a tender pastry with a buttery taste. However, until I found the following recipe, my butter pastry turned out tough ­– tasty but tough.  

Here is the recipe that works for me. The lemon juice helps to keep the crust tender.

I have changed the original slightly, so that I can use ingredients that I usually have on hand, substituting granulated sugar for raw cane sugar and salted butter for unsalted. Since I use salted butter, I reduced the salt in the recipe from 5 mL (1 tsp) to 2 mL (½ tsp).


Basic All-Butter Pie Crust

Adapted from Wambush-Bourque, Aimée: “Brown Eggs and Jam Jars: Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites”, Penguin Canada, Toronto, 2015.

90 mL (6 tbsp)            ice-cold water

1 egg yolk

15 mL (1 tbsp)            lemon juice

750 mL (3 cups) all purpose flour, sifted

15 mL (1 tbsp)            granulated sugar

2 mL (½ tsp) salt

250 mL (1 cup) cold butter, cut into 1 cm (½ inch) cubes


Food processor method (the method I use)

Pour water into a measuring cup and drop in the egg yolk. Add lemon juice and beat with a fork. Drop in an ice cube to chill the liquid while you prepare the flour and butter.

In a food processor, pulse together flour, sugar and salt to combine. Add butter cubes and pulse about 5 times to cut the butter into the flour. Butter should be in pea-size pieces.

Drizzle the ice-water mixture through the feed tube and pulse about 10 times until the liquid is incorporated. Remove lid and squeeze a little dough between your fingers; it should form a ball. If it doesn’t, drizzle in another 15-25 mL (1-2 tbsp) of cold water.

Empty the contents of the food processor bowl onto the counter and divide into 2 piles. Press the damp crumbs together to form two disks of dough 15 cm (6 inches) across. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and chill. Chill the dough for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.


Stand Mixer Method

Follow method above, using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat dry ingredients and butter together for about 30 seconds until they are partially smeared together. With the mixer on its lowest speed, slowly drizzle in the ice-water mixture.

Mix on lowest speed for another 30 seconds or until the dough just starts to come together. Stop the mixer and form two disks of dough, as described above.

Makes 2 (23 cm/9 inch) single pie crusts.


What’s going into the pie crust? Pumpkins and apples are both in season, and both make delicious pie fillings. You could make one of each for Thanksgiving dinner.

I recently used the Basic All-Butter Pie Crust to make a one-crust streusel-topped apple pie with the first of this year’s Courtland apples. It’s tasty with either vanilla ice cream or old cheddar. The recipe follows.

By the way, streusel is the German word for sprinkle, or strew.


Apple Streusel Pie

Adapted from Wattie, Helen and Elinor Donaldson: “Nellie Lyle Pattinson’s Canadian Cook Book”, Ryerson Press, Toronto, 1969.  


125 mL (½ cup) granulated sugar

15 mL (1 tbsp)            all purpose flour

2 mL (½ tsp) cinnamon

dash ground nutmeg

7 or 8 juicy tart apples (1.5 L/6 cups slices)

1 23 cm (9 inch) unbaked pastry shell


Streusel Topping

125 mL (½ cup) brown sugar

75 mL (⅓ cup)            all purpose flour

50 mL (¼ cup)            cold butter


Mix together the first 4 ingredients and sprinkle over the apples as they are sliced into an unpricked pastry shell.

Prepare streusel topping by mixing brown sugar and flour, and cutting in butter to make crumbs. Sprinkle over the pie filling.

Bake at 220 C (425 F) until crust is golden, topping is lightly browned, and apple slices are soft and bubbly, 35-40 minutes.

Here’s hoping that your Thanksgiving weekend includes a mouthwatering dinner shared with people you love, and a few restful minutes for reflection.


Margaret Prouse, a home economist, can be reached by writing her at RR#2, North Wiltshire, P.E.I., C0A 1Y0, or by email at

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