Perfect Flaky Cream Cheese Pie Crust

Rose Levy Beranbaum says this crust holds its shape better than any other pie dough. Keeping the elements as cool as possible helps make a perfect pie crust. Wear food-safe latex gloves, and/or handle the dough with warm hands as little as possible. You can also keep a bowl of ice water near the work surface to dip your hands into; that will help keep them cool.
This recipe substitutes cold heavy cream for the water used in Beranbaum's original Perfect Flaky and Tender Cream Cheese Pie Crust recipe, as printed in her "The Pie and Pastry Bible" (Scribner, 1998).

Makes enough for a 9-inch, 2-crust pie

  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks; 6 ounces) cold unsalted butter
  • 2 cups plus 3 tablespoons pastry flour (10 ounces; may substitute 1 1/2 cups bleached all-purpose flour plus 3/4 cup cake flour)
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder, preferably Rumford or other non-sodium-based brand
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 1/2 ounces cold cream cheese, cut into 3 to 4 pieces (4.5 ounces)
  • 3 tablespoons cold heavy whipping cream ( 1 1/2 ounces)
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
Cut the butter into 3/4-inch cubes. Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for at least 30 minutes or until solid. Combine the flour, salt and baking powder in a 1-gallon resealable plastic freezer food storage bag and freeze for at least 30 minutes.
Place the flour mixture in the bowl of a food processor; pulse for a few seconds to mix well. Add the cream cheese and process for about 20 seconds; the mixture should resemble coarse meal. Add the frozen butter cubes and pulse just until none of them is larger than a pea. Add the heavy cream and vinegar; pulse to process the mixture into pea-size pieces. Divide the mixture in half and transfer to 2 separate 1-gallon resealable plastic food storage bags. (If desired, spray the inside of each bag with nonstick cooking oil spray to keep the dough from sticking.)
Working with one bag at a time and leaving it unsealed, knead the mixture through the bag by pressing with the heel of your hand to help the dough come together. Remove the dough from the bag and knead it lightly just until it is slightly stretchy when pulled. Flatten the dough into a disk, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes and up to overnight.
When ready to make a pie, remove 1 disk of dough from the refrigerator. Allow it to sit for up to 10 minutes, if necessary, to become pliable enough to roll.
Cover the work surface with a large pastry cloth and lightly dust with flour. Cover a rolling pin, preferably chilled or cool, with a cloth cover and roll the dough to a circle about 1/8 inch thick by 12 inches in diameter. (Alternatively, roll the dough between 2 large sheets of plastic wrap.) The dough should be smooth and cool. Fold it carefully in half, then again into quarters and transfer to a 9-inch pie plate. Unfold the dough and trim the border just short of the edge of the plate. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 3 hours. 
Recipe Source:
From cookbook author and baking instructor Rose Levy Beranbaum.
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