Extra-flaky Pie Crust
This is by far the best pie crust I've ever made; Deb asked me to trust here, and I did, and it was so worth it!
Previously, my pie dough rules were: use all butter (it’s very flaky if used well, and tasty too), keep everything cold, use a pastry blender, work the butter into the flour until the largest bits are the size of small peas, and only use enough water to pull the dough together. I am still loyal to all-butter crusts, but I’ve come around to mixing your dough with your fingers (with a satisfying squash of each cube, although I’m never giving up my pastry blender), I’ve added a little folding to the rolling-out steps, which improves structure and increases the expansion of flaky layer, and that with this, you can get away with leaving the butter in larger, lima bean-sized pieces. Finally, I actually get the dough pretty damp — you’ll be sure it’s too soft and sticky, but I promise, it’s not — and it’s not a problem at all. In fact, because we’re using a higher proportion of butter in this dough, and butter is very hard when it’s cold, I find that this extra moisture makes what would otherwise be a very firm dough easier to roll.
2 cups (260 grams) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon (15 grams) granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon fine sea or table salt
1 cup (230 grams, 8 ounces, or 16 tablespoons) cold, unsalted butter
1/2 cup (120 grams) very cold water
Place your flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Cut your butter into small cubes (1/2-inch is ideal here) and add them into the flour mixture. Toss them around so that they’re coated and used your fingers to squash each butter cube into flatter, lima-bean like pieces. It’s totally fine if this is bigger than you’re used to.
[You could also use a pastry blender, stand mixer, or a food processor, but go very easy on it, especially the food processor — you want flat-ish, lima bean-sized pieces of butter, not the usual “coarse meal” or “small pea-sized” mixture. If using a food processor, when you’re done, dump this butter-flour mixture into a large bowl before continuing.]
Pour water over butter-flour mixture and use a flexible silicone spatula or scraper to bring it together into a dough that will seem too wet and sticky, but will be just fine. Divide dough into two parts, and wrap each half into flat-ish packets wrapped in plastic, waxed or parchment paper.
Chill in the fridge until firm — one to two hours.
Unwrap first packet of dough, place on a well-floured counter, sprinkle the top generously with flour, and roll it out into a thick-ish long rectangle. Brush off excess flour off dough with your hands and fold it as you would a business letter, into thirds. Continue to roll this packet into the shape needed for your final pie
- This makes enough dough for two crusts.
- I cut my butter into 1 tablespoon pieces, then each tablespoon piece into 4 smaller pieces. I laid them out on a plate and let them chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- I also assembled my dry ingredients in my big stoneware bowl and popped that whole thing in the fridge for 30 minutes as well (same time as the butter).
- I used my hands to squish and flatten all the butter chunks into the flour, "rubbing" them in. I felt like there were large flat pieces left, but as Deb said, that's ok!