The Best Apple Pie – Step 1- All Butter Flaky Pie Dough

Apple Pie - Flakey close up
Vanilla Bean Online – Flaky Pie Crust

Hello all!

For years I have been struggling to make pie dough. Most of the time it wouldn’t hold together at all and I’d have to do a lot of patch work in order for it to resemble a pie at all! Oh, how my husband laughed at me, claiming that my pies always looked like a careless toddler made them out of Play Dough but I was not to be discouraged!

But seriously, why wasn’t it working out!? I’d followed recipes from my trusted chefs like Alton Brown, Emeril Lagasse, Ina Garten but none worked for me.  So after a lapse of about a year, (enough time to forget how badly failure can feel after you’ve tried so hard and used up about 100 apples), I stumbled upon this recipe and tutorial from Smitten Kitchen . It is the most helpful tutorial I have found to date. I finally learned what my dough was supposed to look and feel like. I learned what was important to look for and even on my first try, my crust came out perfectly! So, if I can do it , then anyone can!

Make sure to follow my 3 step process, split up into 3 separate posts:

Step 1 – Making your all butter pie dough

Step 2 – Rolling and crimping your dough

Step 3 – Assembling and baking your pie

All Butter Flaky Pie Dough

Recipe and Pictures directly sourced from Smitten Kitchen

Makes enough dough for one double-, or two single-crust pies.

2 1/2 cups (315 grams) flour
1 tablespoon (15 grams) sugar
1 teaspoon (5 grams) table salt
2 sticks (8 ounces, 225 grams tablespoons or 1 cup) unsalted butter, very cold

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Gather your ingredients: Fill a one cup liquid measuring cup with water, and drop in a few ice cubes; set it aside. In a large bowl — I like to use a very wide one, so I can get my hands in — whisk together 2 1/2 cups flour, 1 tablespoon of sugar and a teaspoon of salt. Dice two sticks (8 ounces or 1 cup) of very cold unsalted butter into 1/2-inch pieces. Get out your pastry blender.

Make your mix: Sprinkle the butter cubes over the flour and begin working them in with the pastry blender, using it to scoop and redistribute the mixture as needed so all parts are worked evenly. When all of the butter pieces are the size of tiny peas — this won’t take long — stop. Yes, even if it looks uneven; you’ll thank me later.

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Glue it together: Start by drizzling 1/2 cup (120 ml) of the ice-cold water (but not the cubes, if there are any left!) over the butter and flour mixture. Using a rubber or silicon spatula, gather the dough together. You’ll probably need an additional 1/4 cup (60 ml) of cold water to bring it together, but add it a tablespoon as a time. Once you’re pulling large clumps with the spatula, take it out and get your hands in there (see how that big bowl comes in handy?). Gather the disparate damp clumps together into one mound, kneading them gently together.

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Pack it up: Divide the dough in half , and place each half on a large piece of plastic wrap. I like to use the sides to pull in the dough and shape it into a disk. Let the dough chill in the fridge for one hour, but preferably at least two, before rolling it out.

Do ahead: Dough will keep in the fridge for about a week, and in the freezer longer. If not using it that day, wrap it in additional layers of plastic wrap to protect it from fridge/freezer smells. To defrost your dough, move it to the fridge for one day before using it.

Stephanie’s tricks: What I’ve learned

Keeping it cool: The trick is to keep everything cool as your working with it but If it is a particularly warm day or if its warm in the house, that can work against you and change the outcome of your dough. So touchy, eh? So, I sometimes put the bowl with the flour mixture in the fridge for a few minutes and I always pop my butter cubes in the freezer for 5-10 minutes too.

Size: This recipe makes a double crust pie if using a small pie pan (about the size of those disposable aluminum foil ones). If you have a wider or deep dish pan, then I suggest doubling this recipe. Although don’t combine all of the ingredients in one go. Make this recipe twice, individually. It’ll be more manageable and the results will remain more consistent. You will have extra dough but you can freeze it or make individual hand pies with it.

Next up: A tutorial on rolling out your dough.

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