Whether you've made zero pies in your life or hundreds—or thousands!—this dough will change your life.
The recipe comes from Stella Parks, a.k.a. the baker, science whiz, and sugar historian behind BraveTart the blog (and the spectacularly genius baking cookbook that dropped yesterday). Her all-butter crust is not only one of the flakiest and most fun to make, but it also stands to make the biggest difference for a budding pie baker.
Because have you ever thought about what “till the mixture resembles coarse crumbs” means to a first-timer? Not really. Even when authors say the butter should be pea-sized, it’s never all pea-sized, so what proportion of pea-ish-ness are we talking about there?
I don’t mean to overcomplicate and scare you away from other recipes—none of this needs to be precise. But Parks' technique proves an unexpected, weed-whacking offroad path that’s easier for us all to understand without prior knowledge or intuition.
Instead of divining peas, she has us simply pinch big cubes of butter flat in the flour, then stir in exactly half a cup of very cold water (not a varying amount depending on humidity/feel/which house the moon is in). Because the dough is so moist and worked so little, you can then use as much flour as you need in rolling and it all evens out.
But how are you able to leave the butter pieces so massive? And what about all that flour that doesn’t get to rub about with butter, as it would in most other methods?
Because you then roll it roughly into a rectangle and fold it like a T-shirt, the butter is distributed into biiiig flakes (an act similar in spirit, but not in intensity, to making puff pastry). Ta-da!
The crust is among the flakiest I’ve ever had, and yet a child could make it without having to watch a YouTube video or google “coarse crumbs.”
I asked the Food52 staff—from our pastry-pro co-founders to one generous spirit who’d never made a pie before, and everyone in between—to help me test this dough in all sorts of ways: at high heat and low heat, in slab galettes and latticed double-crust numbers. It worked beautifully every time, for every one.
I've been noticing a growing horde of the Food52 community already in love with this dough, too—join us?
- 1 3/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon (8 ounces/225g) all-purpose flour, preferably Gold Medal bleached flour, plus more for dusting
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt, preferably Diamond Crystal
- 8 ounces (225g/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch (1.3cm) cubes
- 1/2 cup (120ml) very cold water
Photos by Julia Gartland
Got a genius recipe to share—from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected].