When a Recipe Says "Shaggy" Dough, Aim For This

July 19, 2017

When a recipe instructs you to mix ingredients into a "shaggy dough," what does that look like? I don't know about you, but "shaggy" is not a stage I feel wildly confident identifying.

Thank the heavens, then, for Stella Parks, Pastry Wizard at Serious Eats (really, that is her job title!) and author of the highly-anticipated forthcoming book, BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts. She took this direction—one that I assume many bakers puzzle over—and clarified it in one simple photo:

Above, her version of a shaggy dough. It's lumpy yet well-mixed (no dry spots of flour); it's a cohesive ball but not a smooth one; it sort of looks like the inside of a soft pillow.

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Next time you need to make a shaggy dough—for hot water crust, pita, shortcakes, pie!—you can use this photo (and also your hands and eyes!) as a reference.

Our summer desserts thank you, Stella.

What baking or cooking directions could benefit from reference photos? Tell us in the comments below!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • bergamotdreams
  • Peggy Griswold
    Peggy Griswold
  • NotAltonBrown
  • Sarah Jampel
    Sarah Jampel
I used to work at Food52. I'm probably the person who picked all of the cookie dough out of the cookie dough ice cream.


bergamotdreams July 18, 2023
The picture isn’t showing up. Please use the actual image and not just a link to the IG post. What if the creator is no longer on IG or deleted the post
Peggy G. October 21, 2021
Where is recipe for "Shaggy" Dough?
NotAltonBrown July 20, 2017
Literally made Stella's pie crust just last night. Hands down, best pie dough recipe I've found so far.
Sarah J. July 20, 2017
That seems to be the consensus!