A few years ago I took a class at King Arthur flour while on a baking retreat, they taught us how to make perfect butter crusts that will never disappoint. The techniques I learned in that class have stuck with me, and I will never stray. A year or two after I visited for that particular retreat, I returned to King Arthur to take a pie baking class taught by the spectacular Joy the Baker. She used the same classic pastry making techniques that I had been taught previously, however she did one thing different. She swore by using cold buttermilk in the place of water in her dough, and you know what? She was spot on, the buttermilk just adds a bit of flavor to the crust, and you still end up with the same flaky buttery crust that you would if you used cold water like most recipes call for.
So trust me on the recipe and method that I have written out below. At times during the making, you will think.... "this looks too shaggy", or "my hands are sticky," or "this can't be right".
Just chill out..... it will work.
Buttermilk Pie Crust:
1 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour (additional for dusting)
1 tbs granulated sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter (use a quality brand like Kate's)
1/4-1/2 cup cold buttermilk
Whisk flour, sugar and salt together in a large mixing bowl.
Cut butter into 1 tbs pieces, add to the flour and then lightly toss, coating all the butter in flour.
Quickly but carefully work the butter into the flour, press the pieces of butter between your index finger and thumb, creating thin little butter disks.
Once all the butter has been worked in, mix in 1/4 cup of buttermilk, and quickly and carefully work the dough until it just starts to come together. If it is way too dry and crumbly (this can vary depending on the humidity in your kitchen) add in additional buttermilk 1 tsp at a time. A little bit of moisture can go a long way. So be careful not to add too much buttermilk. If for some reason, your dough becomes too wet, add in more flour also 1 tsp at a time.
Pour shaggy dough out onto a pastry board and give it a couple kneads, just enough so that it is holding together. It should still look a little bit shaggy.
Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Remove dough from the refrigerate and allow to sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes.
Roll it out on slightly floured pastry board or countertop.
Press and crimp into your pie plate and use as your pie recipe directs you to.