I’m not much of a baker, but with Pi Day in a week I’m occupied with…bad puns, evidently. But also pies!
And while I may still be refining my technique for perfectly flaky crusts, I do have the theory down. The way to a flaky crust is to allow pockets of air to form in the dough while it bakes. This happens when small pieces of butter melt and the 20% of butter that’s actually water forms steam.
So to get flakiness you need chunks of butter, not a dough where the butter is fully incorporated. And two things support this: how much you mix it (or how little, as the case may be) and maintaining a cold temperature so the butter stays hard.
This basic recipe will yield enough for one pie with a top and bottom crust, or two pies with open tops.
- 2.5 cups flour
- 1 cup butter, cubed and chilled
- 1 tsp salt
- .5 cups ice water
- Mix the flour and salt
- Slice in the butter – some people use knives or pastry blenders, some use food processors – the trick is to stop when you have tiny butter balls coated with flour
- Add the ice water (not the ice…) 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough holds together when you pinch it
- Shape the dough into 2 balls, wrap in plastic and let sit in your refrigerator for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days
- Sprinkle a clean surface with flour and use a rolling pin to flatten the dough into a 12” circle
Note: I used 1 cup whole wheat flour and 1.5 cups unbleached white flour – probably a better choice for the crust of savory pies than for sweet pies.