Flaky all-Butter Pie Dough

Quote from the Washington Post:
“True to its name, this is about the flakiest pie crust we have tested in the WaPoFood Lab. Its tensile strength makes it especially good for the kind of intricate designs produced by its author, German baker and pie artist Karin Pfeiff-Boschek.”

  • 2 ½ cups (350g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • 200g (1 cup or 2 sticks) cold butter
  • 1 med. egg + about 5Tbl ( 80 ml) ice-cold water (carbonated mineral water if available – alternative: Non-carbonated water and ¼ tsp cream of tartar) + a few drops of vinegar. (The total amount of liquid should be 110 – 115 ml or a little less than 1/2 cup)

Method (food processor) – our preferred method

  • Place flour, salt and sugar in the processor bowl and process at high speed to mix.
  • Cut butter into strips then into about ½ inch (1 cm) cubes.
  • Add butter to flour mix and pulse at low speed until the butter is in pea-sized discrete pieces. This only takes a few short pulses. Better too little than too much pulsing.
  • Beat egg lightly and mix with cold water and vinegar. Stir in cream of tartar if using.
  • Turn on processor to medium speed and immediately add egg-water mixture and shut off motor. Pinch the dough between your fingers and if it is too dry add a bit more water and pulse. If too sticky add a little flour. When you have done this a few times you will know how long to mix. The process goes very quickly. Do not over mix.
  • Makes about 700g (23 oz). Divide in half, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least an hour, up to 18 hours in refrigerator, or freeze to keep for at least 2 weeks.

Method (using a hand pastry blender, knives or finger tips).

  • Place flour salt and sugar in a large bowl and mix with a wire whip
  • Cut butter into strips then into about ½ inch (1 cm) cubes.
  • Add butter to flour mix and cut the butter in until it forms pea-sized discrete pieces.
  • Beat egg lightly and mix with cold water and vinegar. Stir in cream of tartar if using.
  • Add egg and water mixture and stir in with fork just until mixed. Do not overwork or knead. Feel dough between your fingers and if it is too dry add a bit more water and mix. If too sticky add a little flour. When you have done this a few times you will know how long to mix and the exact proportions for your flour. The process goes very quickly. Do not over mix.
  • Makes about 700g (23 oz). Divide in half, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least an hour, up to 18 hours in refrigerator, or freeze to keep for at least 2 weeks.

These instructions are by necessity only guidelines. The amounts of flour and water will need to be adjusted because every brand of flour has a different protein content and degree of hydration. However, a very small amount of water can make a very big difference in the consistency. Since the ingredients are inexpensive it is possible to practice a number of times.

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