Flaky Pie Crust Dough

Sweet, savoury, large enough to feed a family, small enough to just dig into as a snack, there are endless ways of using pie dough. 

From the classic apple pie to a savoury breakfast quiche, there is something that you could whip up for everyone with this recipe… that is unless you are gluten-free and can’t consume eggs or butter. In which case, I am sorry but this dough isn’t for you.

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What this dough is, is a solid base for any pie your imagination can dream up. It’s buttery and bakes up flaky and crisp. Even when you roll it really thin and think that you may have destroyed any chance of flakiness, this dough still comes through and delivers as that perfect flaky buttery vehicle for your fillings.

I utilise 2 methods in this recipe and went through a phase of galette baking last year after which I took a break from it to bake up cookies instead. But that didn’t mean that all those research had gone to waste. Nope, that research had turned into this pie crust recipe which I shall deliver to you without any recipe on how to actually use it at this point because I will be sharing that in a few following recipes.

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What you could do however is use this dough as you would any other dough in other pie recipes and use as per those instructions. Or you could check back at a later date when I have posted a couple of pie recipes up on this space. 🙂

So here are the 2 methods I used for this recipe:

  • Fraissage 
    Using the base of your hands, you push the dough outwards away from you to create small sheets of butter encased in the dough. This will give you those layers.
  • Stacking the dough
    Think of it as a simple “layering” where we slice the dough in half, stack it to double up on the layers.

Things to note: 

  • You want to use cold water for your dough and want everything to be cold if possible. Yes, that means the flour, the water, the butter, even the bowls. Whilst it is not a deal breaker if your flour and bowls aren’t cold, you definitely want your water and butter to be cold.
  • Why should the butter be cold? It holds it’s shape better and retains the ability to create those layers as the butter won’t melt into the dough to bind with it into a homogenous mess. Instead, when it remains as sheets and seperate from the dough, it will puff up and evaporate as it bakes creating that flakiness.
  • Why cold water? For the same reason you want your butter to be cold, the cold water ensures that the temperature of the dough is cold and stops things from melting too quickly. But beyond that, cold water absorbs into the flour a lot slower than hot water which means that you wont start working that gluten that easily.
  • I use apple vinegar in my dough as I love the slight fruitiness it imparts, but it is pretty negligible so feel free to substitute with white vinegar.
  • Keep your dough chill and you want those buttery layers. So don’t overwork your dough and keep the handling to a minimal. If you watch the video, you can see how much I’ve worked it. It doesn’t turn into a ball but rather a mess that can stick together when I press it together. That is good enough. You are not trying to create brioche 😉
  • This dough makes enough for 2 9″ single layer pies or 1 9″ double layer pie.

Update: Additional notes for rolling the dough out for use

  • Ensure you chill your dough before using it. you can freeze it for an hour to get it nice and cold, or keep it in the fridge overnight.
  • Use flour as need be when rolling the dough out to ensure it doesn’t stick to your worktop. I usually dust and flip the dough as I go to ensure it doesn’t stick.
  • If the dough get too warm, place it into the freezer for 5-10 mins to firm it up. You don’t want the butter melting into the dough as it will result in a sticky mess.
  • Check out my galette recipe for more notes

Flaky Pie Crust Dough

Enough dough to make 2 x 9″ single layer pie or 1 x 9″ double layer pie

What you’ll need

  • 250g ap flour
  • 2tsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 225g cold unsalted butter, cut into 3/4″ cubes
  • 100g ice cold water + 1 tbsp apple vinegar (white vinegar)

Making it!

Mix the cold water and vinegar in a cup and set aside in the fridge until needed

Meanwhile, measure out the flour, sugar, salt into a bow and mix together until combined.

Add the butter to the flour mixture and using your finger tips, press the butter into the flour to mix it in until you get slightly larger than pea size butter pieces. (Your palm retains more heat than finger tips so please use your finger tips and not your whole hand).

Once the flour and butter mix is ready, grab the water vinegar mixture out of the fridge and add to the flour and butter mixture. Reserve a couple of tablespoons of the liquid as your flour might not require the full amount of the water/vinegar mixture. Using the tips of your fingers, stir the water into the dough until just absorbed. Slowly add the last bits of water/vinegar a little at a time until your dough looks right.  The dough won’t come together, it will look like a shaggy messy but that’s okay.

Tip the dough out onto a clean work surface. It’s time to fraissage the dough!

Gather the dough together close to you and using the heel of your hands, press the dough away from you rubbing it against the work surface to create sheets of dough. Repeat until you have gone through all of the dough.

Gather together again and repeat the fraissage.

Gather together into a ball, slice into half and stack it. Repeat the action again by pressing down gently and slicing in half and stacking. (You should now have 4 rough layers of dough stacked on top of one another)

Press down gently and slice in half again, this will be your 2 dough portions.

Wrap tightly in cling wrap and place into the fridge to chill for at least 1 hour or overnight if you plan on using it within 2 days or freeze for longer storage (defrost in the fridge overnight before you plan on using it).

Enjoy as you would with any pie crust recipe!

Recipe for my Black Forest Galette.

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