Flaky Pie Dough

Flaky Pie Dough

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Get a perfectly flaky pie crust every time with this recipe from PCC Cooking Classes instructor Laurie Pfalzer, author of “Simple Fruit.”


  • 2 1/2 cups (340 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (227 g) unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 8 to 10 tablespoons (about 227 ml) ice water


Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. Add the butter pieces to the flour and quickly work it in with your hands by pinching the butter and flour between your fingers, working the butter into the flour. Continue tossing and processing the dough and butter with your fingers until you still have some larger pieces of butter (dime-size) and the rest of the flour looks like meal from the butter being worked into it.

Add the ice water, 1/4 cup at time. Using a fork, toss the ingredients together, cutting through the crust mixture several times. After the first 1/2 cup of water, add 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough starts to hold together.

The dough should look shaggy and not come together easily in the bowl. Test the dough’s moisture by gently squeezing it with your hand: If it holds together, it’s ready; if not, add a little more water until it holds. (If the dough pulls together easily, you have added too much water or you’ve overworked your dough, both of which result in a tough dough. There’s no going back if this happens, so just note for future and handle the dough as little as possible.)

Place the dough onto a work surface and quickly gather it together with your hands into a rough disk. Fold the dough in half, push it flat again with your hand and fold it a second time. The dough should be holding together at this point. (If not, sweep the dough back into the bowl, break it apart and add another tablespoon of water. Don’t fold it again, as you may overwork the dough.)

Divide the dough into 2 equal parts. Gently form 2 disks about 1-inch-thick. Don’t work the dough or try to make it pretty. Small cracks and chunks of butter are normal. Wrap the disks with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour or overnight.

The dough disks can be double wrapped and frozen for up to 4 weeks; thaw them overnight in the refrigerator before using.

How to Roll Out Pastry (Pie) Dough:

Remove the chilled disks from the refrigerator and roll out each disk with a rolling pin on a surface dusted lightly with flour. (If your dough has been in the refrigerator overnight, it probably needs 5 to 10 minutes on the counter at room temperature to soften some before rolling.)

Don’t forget to flour the top of the dough also before rolling. I like to pound the dough 3 or 4 times, then turn it 1/4 turn and pound it again 5 to 6 times to start to soften it. Then roll from the middle up and middle down 6 to 8 times. Turn the dough 1/4 turn (grabbing some of the flour on the counter for the bottom and dusting the top again if needed) and continue to roll 6 to 8 times. Continue this pattern until the dough is about 1/8-inch (4 mm) thick. Use your hands to feel the dough all the way around to insure a consistent thickness. (On a hot day, the dough may become too warm and soft while rolling it out. Return it to the fridge for about 15 minutes to chill and you get to take a chill break too.

Special notes:

You can replace the all-purpose flour for white pastry flour or whole wheat pastry flour. Note that whole wheat pastry flour will require less water.

(c)2020 by Laurie Pfalzer. All rights reserved. Excerpted from “Simple Fruit” by permission of Sasquatch Books.

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