[Photographs: Vicky Wasik. Video: Natalie Holt]
This easy pie dough has a recipe that pastry chefs tend to favor, but it doesn’t require any fancy ingredients, equipment, or training. Just smash some cold butter in a bowl of flour, stir in a bit of water, roll it out, and fold it over a few times. It’s essentially a streamlined blitz, making an easy, layered dough that’s supple but strong. That means it won’t slump out of shape in the oven, so it can support all types of complicated decorative techniques, but it’s wonderfully buttery, so it always turns out flaky and tender, too.
The dough can be made ahead of time and refrigerate for up to 24 hours before use. To store it for longer than that, the dough can be frozen as a block, rolled, or shaped in a pan. If frozen as a block, dough will need to rest/relax for at least 2 hours before rolling and shaping.
In summer months, warm pantry staples and equipment will raise the temperature of pie dough, causing the butter to melt. If it’s warmer than 73°F (23°C) in your kitchen, a few simple precautions will keep your dough happy and cool; more here.
Why It Works
- All-purpose flour gives the dough strength to hold its shape in the oven, preserving any sort of decorative design.
- A blitz-style ratio of flour to butter creates a dough that’s pliable but strong, making cracks and tears a thing of the past.
- One round of folding provides eight major layers with minimal fuss.
- Refrigerating the dough after shaping ensures it’s fully chilled and relaxed, preserving its flakes in the oven.
- 8 ounces low protein all-purpose flour, such as Gold Medal Blue Label (1 2/3 cups; 225g), plus more for dusting
- 1/2 ounce sugar (1 tablespoon; 15g)
- 1 teaspoon (4g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use half as much by volume or use the same weight
- 8 ounces unsalted, American-style butter, straight from the fridge (2 sticks; 225g), cold
- 4 ounces cold tap water (1/2 cup; 115g)
For the Dough: Whisk flour, sugar, and salt together in a medium bowl. Cut butter into cubes no smaller than 1/2-inch, and toss with flour mixture to break up the pieces. With your fingertips, smash each cube flat—that’s it! No rubbing or cutting. Stir in water, then knead dough against the sides of the bowl until it comes together in a shaggy ball. Dough temperature should register between 65 and 70°F (18 and 21°C); if not, refrigerate briefly before rolling and folding (see note).
Make the Layers: On a generously floured work surface, roll dough into a roughly 10- by 15-inch rectangle. Fold the 10-inch sides to the center, then close the newly formed packet like a book. Fold in half once more, bringing the short sides together to create a thick block. Divide in half with a sharp knife or bench scraper. Dough temperature should still be somewhere between 65 and 70°F (18 and 21°C); if not, refrigerate briefly before proceeding (see note).
For Single-Crusted Pies: Using as much flour as needed, roll one piece into a 14-inch circle; this size allows ample room to line the pie plate, with enough overhang to form a generous border. At smaller sizes, the dough will fall short, making it difficult to shape the edges, and the thicker dough will not crisp as intended. Transfer to a 9-inch pie plate; the dough should be easy to handle, and will not require any special procedures to move. Dust off excess flour with a pastry brush, using it to nestle dough into the very corners of the pan. With scissors or kitchen shears, trim the edge so that it overhangs by 1 1/4 inches all around. Fold overhang over itself to create a thick border that sits on the top edge of the pie plate, not below. Crimp or shape crust as desired. Repeat with remaining dough. Wrap with plastic and refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to overnight. Use as directed in your favorite recipe.
For a Double-Crusted Pie: Using as much flour as needed, roll one piece into a 14-inch circle; this size allows ample room to line the pie plate, with enough overhang to form a generous border. At smaller sizes, the dough will fall short, making it difficult to seal the edges, and the thicker dough will not crisp as intended. Transfer to a 9-inch pie plate; the dough should be easy to handle, and will not require any special procedures to move. Dust off excess flour with a pastry brush, using it to nestle dough into the very corners of the pan. With scissors or kitchen shears, trim the edge so that it overhangs by 1 1/4 inches all around. For a solid top crust, roll remaining dough as before; for a lattice-top pie, roll into a 9- by 15-inch rectangle instead. Transfer to a baking sheet or parchment-lined cutting board. (The parchment will prevent dough from absorbing any savory odors from the board.) Wrap both portions in plastic and refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to overnight. Use as directed in your favorite recipe; after filling the pie and sealing the crusts together, refrigerate 30 minutes before baking.
For a Blind-Baked Pie: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat to 350°F (180°C). Line chilled pie shell with a large sheet of aluminum foil, pressing so it conforms to the curves of the plate (a second sheet of aluminum may be needed for full coverage). Fill to the brim with sugar, transfer to a half sheet pan, and bake until fully set and golden around the edges, 60 to 75 minutes. Fold long sides of foil toward the middle, gather short sides, and use both hands to carefully transfer sugar to a heat-safe bowl. Let sugar cool to room temperature. If needed, continue baking crust a few minutes more to brown along the bottom. A full explanation of this process can be found here.
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