Our all butter pie crust is perfect for both sweet and savory bakes! This recipe includes our favorite tips and tricks for the best homemade pie dough, as well as optional steps to get an extra flaky top layer of crust!
For the last few years this has been our go-to crust recipe for everything from pumpkin pie to chicken pot pie. With cooler weather moving in and the holidays just around the corner, we thought now would be the perfect time to share all of our favorite tips and tricks to get a deliciously flaky pie crust every time!
preparing your ingredients
You’ll need just six ingredients for this all butter pie crust:
Flour: The main tip here is to use a kitchen scale to ensure you’re getting an accurate amount of flour. But if you have to use cups, make sure to use the spoon and level method, as it’s extremely easy to overmeasure by volume. Using a spoon to lightly scoop flour into the measuring cup until it’s completely full and then gently scraping off any excess with a knife is the best way to avoid over-measuring.
Sugar: Even if you’re using this dough for a savory bake, a little sugar helps with browning and creating a tender crust. If you’re making a sweet pie, feel free to add an extra tablespoon.
Salt: For flavor! A pie crust without salt will just taste bland.
Frozen butter: Some pie crusts call for shortening, but we’re going with the all butter method to get the best flavor and the most flakiness! While butter can be a bit harder to work with than shortening, you really just need to remember one thing: keep your butter cold and don’t let it melt into the dough before baking. To prepare the butter, you’ll want to freeze it for at least 15 minutes and then grate it (see photos below) or cut it into cubes.
Cold water: Make sure your water is ice-cold to help keep the butter from melting. We use about ½ cup (120 ml) in this recipe, but you can add a few tablespoons more if needed.
Apple cider vinegar: And a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar is the final ingredient. The merits of using vinegar in pie crust have been contested and the theory behind using it is, admittedly, a bit weak. That being said, we have found that it makes rolling out the dough easier and so will continue to use it!
making the dough
To make the dough, start by mixing together the dry ingredients — flour, sugar and salt. Then add your grated or cubed butter and use a pastry cutter or a pair of forks to begin incorporating the butter. The goal here is to break the butter into small pea-sized pieces and coat it with flour.
Now add the vinegar and half of the water. Begin mixing the dough until large clumps form and then gradually add the rest of the water (only using as much water as needed). Next start mixing the dough with your hands. Mix the dough just until it comes together. Mixing it any longer will cause the butter to melt, which will negatively affect the flakiness. If at any point in the process the butter in the dough gets too warm, let the dough chill in the refrigerator for 15 minutes before continuing.
Once the dough comes together (it should still be clumpy and you should still be seeing flecks of butter), divide it into two discs: one for the base of the crust and one for the top layer.
how to get an extra flaky top layer
You now have two discs of pie dough. One disc should be covered in plastic wrap and sent straight to the fridge to chill — this will be the base dough. And while you can do the same with the second disc, we highly recommend rolling and folding it a few times to create lamination, which will make your top layer of crust extra flaky. That being said, this step is completely optional and even without it you will still have a lovely flaky pie crust!
To get the extra flakiness, we’ll essentially be making a rough puff pastry (see photos above). Start by chilling the dough for 10 minutes to ensure it’s nice and cold. Then roll out your dough on a lightly floured surface until it is about ⅛ inch (4 mm) thick. Fold the dough into thirds (like a letter). To do this, fold the top third of the dough over the center and then fold the bottom third over the center. Turn the dough 90 degrees, roll out again and repeat the folds. Then cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to chill for at least 30 minutes.
Why don’t we do this process for both the base and top layer of crust?
While laminating the dough creates more layers and flakiness, it also creates a more delicate crust. For this reason we like to use it only on the top layer. The base needs a sturdier, more dense dough to hold your fillings without falling apart.
homemade pie crust tips and tricks
Need help troubleshooting? Here are some tips and tricks to make sure your pie crust is a success:
- Dry and crumbly dough: It is normal for the dough to stay dry and crumbly even after adding water. Once you start mixing it with your hands it will quickly come together. If the butter starts to melt excessively and the dough still has not come together, you can chill the dough, add a tablespoon or two of water and mix the dough again.
- Soggy bottom crust: Before adding your filling, try blind baking the crust for 10 minutes. To do this, just put a piece of crinkled up parchment paper over the crust and fill it with pie weights or dried beans. This will help to keep the crust from bubbling up or falling down the sides.
- Crust not flaky: This can happen if the dough is overworked or if the butter melts into the dough. Make sure to keep all of your ingredients very cold. This helps to prevent the butter from melting before baking, which in turn keeps the crust super flaky. If you ever feel like your mixture is becoming warm or the butter is melting, just place it in the refrigerator for 15 minutes and then continue with the next step.
For more delicious pastries, make sure to check out these recipes!
- fruit tartlets with mascarpone cream
- frangipane rhubarb galette
- pastry wrapped baked brie with honey, figs and walnuts
- joulutorttu | finnish christmas pastry
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