Flaky Pie Crust 101. When I first started baking pies for my family, I had back up frozen store-bought pie doughs in the freezer. Multiple times I thought I had the pie dough perfect, but couldn’t roll it out to even fit it in the pie dish. It would rip and be misshapen. What changed? Practice, and trial & error. With this guide, you’ll never mess up! There is nothing fancy going on and no language you won’t understand. For a short video guide follow me on Instagram and check out my highlights. Let’s start: The Home Cook’s Guide to Flaky Pie Crust
Ingredients You Will Need:
- 1 & 1/4 cup unbleached All-Purpose Flour
- 4tbs Unsalted Butter
- 4tbs Salted Butter
- 1tbs sugar
- Tools I love: Bench Scraper & Chopper
Step One: Freeze & Cut Butter
First, we start by cutting up the butter into 1/2 inch cubes & throwing them in the freezer. I usually throw mine in a small dish or plate. My number one, most important tip during this process: when it doubt, get it cold! When the butter stays cold, the pie dough stays flaky & texture is perfect. Next, while the butter is freezing, measure your flour, salt & sugar into a large bowl. Whisk them together lightly. Next, fill a cup with about 1/2 cup water and lots of ice. Use a measuring cup and just add ice after. Let it get cold, so wait a minute or so.
After about 10 minutes, the butter should be ice cold. Toss it in the flour to coat. If you are using a bench scraper, make sure it can get to the bottom of the bowl. A wider based bowl is best.
OR dump the butter and flour right onto the counter! This is how I love to work. It is a little old school, but I love to use my hands. When I know how it feels, I know when it’s ready, and you’ll get there too even if you use a bench scraper. To remind you: make sure your butter stays cold. If you keep touch it & it starts to feel warm and melty, toss the bowl in the freezer for 5 mins. The butter should always feel cold to the touch.
Step Two: Start making crust dough
Hold your bench scraper by the handle, and press it into the butter chunks. Chop and toss the butter over and over. Coat all of the pieces of cold butter in flour as you chop. Try to use a light hand and relax. We want to not overwork the dough & stress will just make us crazy!
If you use your hands, squeeze the butter chunks into pieces and then toss the flour. Repeat over and over. Look below.
The end goal is that butter is chopped and tossed until it varying in size. I know everyone stresses “pea-sized” amounts. But we aren’t stressing about that. I like some small, some large. Some pea sized. We like variation. It makes for better flakage. When butter chunks get enveloped in the flour, they melt as the dough bakes creating steam. The layers then separate from each other to create flakes.
At this stage it should kind of squeeze & hold together in your hand, but immediately fall apart.
Step Three: Add Ice Water
Now, let’s bring everything together. It is time to add the ice water. Start with 2-3 tablespoons. We want to use as little water as possible. Too much water = tough dough. And uncoated flour = too much water. That is why we want as much of the butter and flour to be combined as possible before adding the ice water. Drizzle the ice water. Toss & chop the butter again to fully incorporate the water.
Squeeze the dough. Feel it. Don’t look at recipes saying what you HAVE to do. All that matters is if the dough holds together & (you guessed it) the butter stays cold. Does the dough hold together? Probably not yet. The butter pieces will be a little smaller, and the flour will be more incorporated.
Drizzle another 2tbs of water. I don’t like to go over 6. Toss and cut. Squeeze to feel. When the dough is ready, it won’t look it. In fact, it may even look crumbly. But hold together when squeezed. You should still be able to see butter pieces throughout.
Step Four: Chill the Pie Dough
Now the dough is ready to chill. Shape it into a flat disk and wrap it tightly in saran wrap. Let it chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. In there, the fats will re-solidify if they got warm. The gluten you formed when mixing the dough will also relax. Too much gluten makes the pie crust rip when rolling out, or shrink a lot while baking.
When pie dough has chilled, remove it from the fridge. Let it sit 30 minutes. It should be cold to the touch, but malleable. Too cold & hard and the pie dough may be difficult to roll out. Press down. It should feel cold still, but a little more malleable. Then it is ready to roll. Flour the surface & dust some on both sides of your dough disk. Lightly rub the flour over the dough.
Step Five: Roll out Pie Crust
Next, roll the dough out with a rolling pin until it is as wide as you need it. Roll from center, upward. Turn the disk one quarter turn. Repeat. I also liek to gently flip my dough after 4 turns. Lighty run your hand across it. if you can feel wet butter, add a tiny bit more flour and lightly rub over dough before continuing to roll.
We can avoid sticking as long as the dough is often moving & the butter doesn’t get too wet. As you roll GENTLY, turn the dough and flip it, dusting with flour as needed. Roll from the center to almost the edge. If dough is for a pie dish, make sure there is enough overhang for shrinkage or if you want to fold the edges. If it is for a galette, like my Blueberry Galette for example, make sure there is enough room for filling. Try not to roll top to bottom.
Step Six: How To Bake the Pie Crust
Finally, it’s time to bake. Most baking instructions will be completely up to whatever recipe you are using. Any recipe calling for a pie crust can use this one. If the recipe calls for 2 pie crusts, you can easily double this recipe. I almost always do just to have an extra! Temperature & time will also be up to the recipe you choose. BUT if you are looking for recipes to use, I suggest: Classic Blueberry Pie or this Chocolate Pecan Pie w. Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream.
But once you look at each one of these pictures, and move along with me you are set! When baking pie dough, you can do a milk wash, egg wash or no wash. But the MOST important thing, let that baby get GOLDEN BROWN. Don’t worry about time. Go by visual cues.
You made it. Your pie dough is baked. It’s crispy & flaky. It’s BUTTERY & heavenly. A perfectly cooked pie dough will SNAP when you break it. The under-baked dough, for instance, looks a little golden, but when you break it it will have a bend. A chewiness. Finally, a perfect finished dough, like the one you’re about to make, snaps, flakes and is entirely flaky.
In short: keep your butter cold, feel your dough, and practice. Likewise, go by touch and feel. Don’t stress about time or recipes!
Finally (seriously this time), please please please let me know any and all thoughts about this guide. Send me a message on Instagram or comment here. I want to add your tips or anything you think I missed once you try to follow along.
Homecook’s Guide: How To Flaky Pie Crust
- Rolling Pin
- Bench Scraper/Pastry Cutter
- 1 & 3/4 cup all purpose flour (225g) spooned & leveled
- 12 tbs unsalted butter (6oz)
- 1.5 tsp Salt
- 1.5 tbs Sugar
- ice & water up to 1/2 cup
- Cut the Butter & keep cold: Cut the butter into 1/2 inch cubes. Place in fridge. If you will be using your hands instead of a bench scraper, place the butter cubes in the freezer.
- Start the Dough: While cubed butter is chilling, measure flour, salt & sugar & add to large bowl. Whisk together lightly. Next, fill a cup with about 1/2 cup water and lots of ice. Let it get cold (about 1 min). Get cold butter from freezer & add to flour mixture. Toss it to coat.
- Cut Butter: Hold your bench scraper by the handle. Chop & toss the butter over & over. Coat all of the pieces of cold butter in flour as you chop. You can also use your hand. If the butter warms, throw flour and butter in freezer until it is cold. Chop and toss with the bench scraper until the butter is MOSTLY pea sized amounts. Some will be a little larger, some small.
- Add Water: Add 3tbs of ice water. Toss & chop the butter again to fully incorporate the water. I prefer to dump everything onto the counter directly. Squeeze the dough. Does the dough hold together? Probably not yet. It should mostly hold together but very easily fall apart when it's ready. Drizzle another 2tbs water (try not to exceed 8). Toss and cut. Squeeze to feel. It will look crumbly, but hold together when squeezed. You should still be able to see butter pieces.
- Chill Dough: Form dough it into a flat disk and wrap it tightly in saran wrap. Let it chill in the refrigerator 30 minutes. When your pie dough is chilled, remove it from the fridge & let sit 5 to 10 minutes. It should be cold to the touch, but malleable.
- Rolling Out Dough: Flour the surface & dust some on both sides of your dough disk. Next, roll the dough out with a rolling pin until it is as wide as you need it. IF it is for a pie dish, make sure there is enough overhang for when it shrinks or you fold the edges. As you roll GENTLY, turn the dough and flip it, dusting with flour as needed.Roll bottom to top only & not back and forth.
- Baking Pie Crust: There are tons of pie recipes out there you can use. Anything that calls for a pie crust (quiche, galette, pie, pot pie top), you can use this recipe. There is a step by step on my Instagram in stories for a blueberry galette & a pie which shows me rolling the pie crust out. Any other directions for baking will be included in whatever recipe you are choosing.