A few years ago, I got into a pretty big pot pie phase. We’d been raising turkeys, so we always seemed to have extra roasted turkey in the freezer. I loved how filling and homey pot pies were, so I just kept baking them! Now that I have this easy flaky pie crust recipe, I can make pot pies any time!
One day, I kept the butter in my crust a little chunkier. As the Great British Baking Show enthusiast that I am, I decided to try folding the dough a bit to create some flaky layers. Worst case scenario? I wasted time and still had a good crust.
Best case scenario? I’d have flaky, buttery crust on top of my pot pie.
The second scenario won!
Easy Flaky Pie Crust Recipe Trials
As I refined this recipe to share with you, I tested it against fancy shortcrust pastry recipes and made it FOUR times. The first two times were too complicated. The third time, I tested out using a food processor. That was a major bust! The fourth time, I simply made pie dough, left the butter chunks thick, and folded the dough a few times for layers.
Just like the time I made the perfect pot pie crust, this final method was the best! The crust was everything I wanted and easier than the classic shortcrust pastry method. Success!
If you’ve ever made a pie crust by hand, this recipe will feel familiar and easy.
There is a lot of chill time, but that’s to make sure you get a good lamination. These series of rolls, folds, and chills ensure the crust will crisp up during baking for flaky layers.
How to Make Flaky Pastry Crust the Lazy, Easy Way
Add the flour, salt, and cold butter into a bowl. If you are making a sweet dough like for my Caramel Apple Galette, go ahead and add a teaspoon of sugar. Your butter needs to be cold. but not frozen. I like my butter to be fridge-cold and cut into 1-cm cubes.
With a pastry cutter, mix in ice cold water one tablespoon at a time. Mix with the pastry cutter, add a little water, and mix some more. It took me 4 tablespoons of water to bring my crust together.
Notice that your crust may seem like it is barely holding together at this point. If you can compress it into a ball and only see some dry flour falling into the bowl, it’s good!
I know it may feel weird letting this dough stay a little dry, but the dough will be resting in the fridge. This will help the moisture move around the mixture. Also, we’ll be rolling that butter and dough together multiple times, ensuring that each piece will have just the right amount of moisture.
Look for: When you can mostly compress your dough into a ball, put it in your bowl and back in the fridge for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, bring the dough out. Pull out two large rectangles of parchment paper and place the dough between them. With your rolling pin, start rolling the dough out until you can get a rectangle.
It doesn’t need to be rolled as thin as possible, but I’d recommend about 1/2 in thick. If your dough is hard to roll, you may actually want to press down onto your dough with your rolling pin and then roll it out smooth.
Once you have a rectangle, fold the dough in thirds using your bench scraper. You could also do a book fold for more layers (fold the outer edges in to meet each other in the center of the rectangle), but I mostly stick to the thirds.
Your dough may seem a little chunky at this point. Don’t worry! Just keep going.
Once you’ve folded your dough, start rolling it out again. Make your rectangle and again, fold into thirds. Follow this process of rolling and folding at least 3 times total, including the rolls and folds you’ve done to this point. That means that after you’ve done this second roll and fold, do 1-2 more.
On your final roll and fold, roll the dough out into a rectangle one more time. If you want to be fancy, use your bench scraper to trim the edges of your rectangle so they are straight. Then, use the book fold. Take the outer edges of the rectangle and fold them until they meet each other in the center of the rectangle.
Then, fold those two halves over each other.
Wrap the dough using a piece of the parchment you used to roll it out and set it in the fridge for 30 minutes. If you want to bake your dough later, you can leave it at this stage for a day or so before you move to the final roll!
Preparing for baking
After your dough has chilled in its book fold, bring it back out. At this point, I usually grab a clean piece of parchment paper and set out my dough. Feel free to sprinkle a little flour on top and on bottom of the dough and get some on your rolling pin. You can do this without, but you may notice your dough sticking a bit when you roll it.
You can roll the dough out to your desired shape now! Roll the dough out as thin as you can.
It may take some time and you may think that you’re as thin as you can go, but you can probably go thinner. Check out my pictures below for how thin I roll it for my galette recipe.
If you want a specific shape after rolling, use your pizza cutter to cut out your shape.
Then, transfer the dough on the parchment paper to your half sheet tray. Place that tray back in the fridge.
Yes, I know you’re groaning. The fridge AGAIN?! But please do it. To get a good, flaky crust, that butter needs to be cold and the oven needs to be hot. Let your dough chill out and be patient!
At this point, I usually aim to keep the dough in the fridge for 30 minutes. If I’m baking something with a filling like my apple galette, I start prepping my filling at this point. This is a good time to turn on the oven for preheating, too.
Read: 70 Cozy Fall Recipes to Make From Scratch
How to bake for a flaky crust
For baking, you need to start the dough off at a high heat. However, the length it needs to bake depends on your use.
If you are using this as a pastry base for a galette like my Caramel Apple Galette, I like to bake mine at 425 for 20 minutes and then bring it down to 350 for a final 20 minutes.
For smaller applications like pastry cheese straws or sweet breakfast pastries, you may only need 10-20 minutes.
I recommend following the instructions of whichever recipe you are following for your baking times. Of course, use your eyes to look for the dough puffing up and turning golden brown. Those are signs your dough has cooked!
A note on dough shaping
When I’m baking something like a galette, I just roll the dough out as thin as I can and then add the filling to whatever shape rolls out! I like how rustic it looks and I usually keep the rougher edges.
If you want a specific shape or sharp edges, you may need to trim the shape with your pizza slicer or a chef’s knife.
Troubleshooting Dough Issues
In my trials, I stumbled upon a few issues that indicated my dough would not work out.
The key variables you need to monitor are:
- Was the dough cold and the oven very hot?
- Did you give the dough breaks between rolling and shaping?
- Is it possible you broke up the butter chunks too much?
Dough & oven temperature
- You will NOT have a puffy, flaky dough if your dough is not cold before going in the oven. If you try to bake at a lower temperature like 350, you will most likely not get a good rise or flake.
- If your butter is too cold (frozen), you will have a very hard time rolling this dough. I did this one and it worked, but it took forever and was a major arm workout!
- If you notice that your dough is sticking to your rolling pin, either your butter is not cold enough or you need to add a little flour.
Tip: Don’t be afraid to bash this dough a bit with your rolling pin. Especially when you’re rolling thin for your final roll, you may need to whack it a few times to get it to spread out!
Overworking the dough
If you rolled and folded too much, you will activate the gluten in the flour and your dough will need to rest before baking. I did this accidentally one time and the pastry dough slid down around the apple filling. Bummer!
Problems making the dough
I have not had any issues with my crust being too dry or too wet. I had my best successes with a dough just barely holding together like the image I posted above.
However, I DID have an issue when I tried to use a food processor. It broke up the butter pieces too finely and the dough was not flaky. I highly recommend making this dough by hand with your pastry cutter.
Other ways to use this easy flaky pie crust
Get creative! Feel free to use this easy flaky pie crust recipe in sweet and savory applications.
- Use as a flaky base for a galette or tart
- Substitute out the regular pie crust in your favorite pie recipe
- Test out as a base for your favorite pastries
- Make cheese twists
- Top your next pot pie
- Slice into triangles, brush with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar!
If you love cooking from scratch, try making your own vanilla extract! It is so easy and worth the wait!
Easy Flaky Pie Crust
- Pastry cutter
- Rolling Pin
- Bench scraper
- 1 1/2 cup flour
- 1 tsp sugar Optional
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 2-4 tbs water ice cold
- 1/2 cup butter one whole stick
- Prepare the dough. Mix the flour and salt with a fork or whisk. Add 1/4 to 1/2 inch cubes of very cold butter. Start by adding water a tablespoon at a time until the dough starts to come together. It will still be crumbly, but you should be able to squeeze it and have it hold its shape somewhat.
- Chill the dough for 1 hour in the fridge or 20 minutes in the freezer.
- Between pieces of parchment paper, roll out the dough into a large rectangle shape. Keep the dough pretty thick – about 1/2 inch. Use any pastry folding technique you like. I am fond of folding in thirds. Fold the left third over the center third and then fold the right third over both pieces. In the earliest part of the folding process, I used my bench scraper to help lift the messy dough.
- Continue folding and rolling until you have completed 4-6 folds. If your dough is starting to stick to your rolling pin, the dough needs to be chilled.
- Once your dough starts to smooth out and look less bumpy, you are towards the end of this process. You can use your bench scraper or a pizza slicer to straighten out your edges, if you'd like. Roll out your rectangle, but make a book fold. Fold both of the outside edges into the center of the rectangle until the edges meet. Then, fold the two halves towards each other like a book (see pictures above).
- Wrap the dough in the parchment and let it chill again for about 30 minutes in the fridge.
- Bake according to your recipe instructions (generally start high at 400-425)
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Melissa | Little Frugal Homestead