Buttery Flakiness Homemade All Butter Pie Crust

Buttery Flakiness Homemade All Butter Pie Crust

Exploring Pie Crusts A Journey Through Technique and Flavor

Creating the perfect pie crust is more than just following a recipe; it's a culinary adventure shaped by inspiration and technique. In this guide, I'll share insights gained from years of pie baking, along with my beloved all-butter flaky pie crust recipe that has evolved through experience and experimentation.

The Evolution of Pie Crust Technique

In my early days of pie baking, I embraced a handcrafted approach to pie dough, relishing the tactile experience of smearing and folding cold butter into flour. This method, honed during my time in San Francisco's cool kitchen climate, consistently yielded beautifully flaky crusts. However, upon relocating to warmer Los Angeles, I encountered new challenges. The higher temperatures posed a threat to my traditional technique, prompting a shift in my approach.

Recognizing that minimal handling of the dough was key in warmer climates, I refined my method to focus on simplicity and efficiency. Enter my current go-to pie crust: an all-butter recipe that strikes the perfect balance between ease of preparation and exceptional flakiness. Utilizing an electric mixer with a paddle attachment streamlines the process, minimizing mess and maximizing results.

Pie Dough Inspiration and Adaptation

Pie baking is a personal journey, influenced by various inspirations along the way. In my quest for the ultimate pie crust, I've drawn inspiration from esteemed chefs and cookbooks, adapting techniques to suit my preferences and environment.

For years, Pim's One Pie Dough To Rule Them All, inspired by Judy Rodgers and The Zuni Cafe cookbook, served as my trusted foundation. This versatile dough provided a solid starting point, which I often customized by experimenting with different flour ratios and additions such as rye or farro flour.

Upon encountering Nicole Rucker, a luminary in the pie scene, I was captivated by her innovative approach to pie crusts. Her use of vinegar in the dough, along with a hot sugar solution, intrigued me. These techniques, outlined in her book "Dappled: Baking Recipes for Fruit Lovers," impart a tenderizing effect to the crust while enhancing flavor and color. Embracing Nicole's methods, I incorporated vinegar into my recipe, opting for the convenience of an electric mixer for efficiency.

Mastering the All-Butter Flaky Pie Crust

Crafting the perfect pie crust is a blend of science and art, requiring attention to detail and technique. Here's a breakdown of the basic steps involved:

  1. Prepare a sugar, vinegar, and salt mixture in hot water and chill.
  2. Smear cold butter cubes into flour using an electric mixer with a paddle attachment.
  3. Slowly drizzle the chilled water mixture into the dough until it comes together.
  4. Shape the dough into a ball, divide in half, and wrap each portion in plastic wrap.
  5. Chill the dough for at least 2 hours before rolling out.

Rolling Out Pie Dough

Rolling out pie dough requires finesse and patience. Here's a step-by-step guide:

  1. Lightly flour your work surface, rolling pin, and hands.
  2. Roll out the dough from the center in all directions, turning regularly to maintain an even thickness.
  3. Roll the dough slightly larger than your pie dish, using a rolling pin to smooth out any cracks or fissures.
  4. For beginners, rolling out the dough on parchment paper allows for easy transfer and chilling if needed.

Experimentation and Variations

Pie baking invites experimentation and creativity. Consider incorporating different flours or flavorings to customize your crust. For instance, adding rye flour lends a rustic quality and depth of flavor, perfect for complementing fruity fillings.

In conclusion, mastering the art of pie crusts is a journey filled with discovery and delight. Whether you're a novice baker or seasoned pastry enthusiast, I encourage you to embark on your own pie-making adventure. With a bit of practice and the right techniques, you'll soon be creating flaky, golden crusts that elevate every pie to new heights of deliciousness.




All-Butter Flaky Pie Crust Recipe


  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) hot water
  • 2 tablespoons (30g) granulated sugar or dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon good-tasting vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
  • 2 2/3 cups (330g) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 sticks (225g) very cold unsalted butter, cut into 3/4-inch chunks




Preparing the Pie Dough

  1. In a measuring cup or jar, combine hot water, sugar, vinegar, and salt. Stir until the sugar dissolves, then chill in the freezer until very cold, about 10-15 minutes.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flour and cold butter. Cover the mixer with a clean kitchen towel to prevent flour from escaping, and mix on low speed until the mixture resembles an uneven, shaggy, and pebble-like texture, about 20 seconds.
  3. Remove the towel and, while still on low speed, slowly drizzle in about half of the sugar-water mixture. Mix just until the dough comes together, adding more water if necessary. The dough should come together quickly, in about ten or twenty seconds. You may not need to use all the water; typically, about half is used, leaving about 1/4 cup leftover.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and quickly press it together into one large mound. Divide the dough in half and shape each half into a 1-inch thick disc. Wrap each disc tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for two hours before using. Alternatively, you can freeze the dough for later use.

Rolling out the Pie Dough

  1. When ready to shape the dough, lightly flour your work surface, rolling pin, and hands. If the dough sticks at any point, dust with more flour. For easier handling, you can roll out the dough on lightly floured parchment paper.
  2. Roll the dough from the center in all directions, turning regularly to maintain an even thickness. Roll the dough so it is evenly thick throughout and slightly larger than your pie dish.
  3. Transfer the rolled-out dough to a pie dish by gently wrapping it around the rolling pin and unrolling it over the dish. Press the dough gently into place.
  4. For a single-crusted pie, trim the excess dough around the edges. For a double-crusted pie, fill it with the desired filling before placing the second crust on top. Trim the top crust and pinch to seal the edges.
  5. Optionally, crimp the edge of the pie with a fork or flute it using your fingers. Freeze the assembled pie for 15 minutes before baking.
  6. For a double-crusted pie, make a few slashes in the top crust to allow steam to escape. Optionally, brush the crust lightly with beaten egg before baking.


  • This recipe yields two 9-inch pie crusts.
  • Preparation time: 2 hours and 10 minutes.

Leave a Comment