I made that!

Pie Dough. The Movie. Except Without Pictures.

Posted in All Sugar All The Time, Certified Pie Ninja, Don't BUY it, MAKE it! by brandi on December 13, 2009


Remember that hole Orangette fell down? I was warmly welcomed into it this week! I have been working every single day and therefore have had literally no time for cooking at home. It’s my first day off in 7 days (and we’re talking 11 hour shifts here! (which I LOVE, in case Brandon or Molly are reading)), so I will be spending the day with John, exploring this fine city (finally!) and shopping for things to fill up our house. But people want some pie dough! So pie dough it is. Except my pie dough is kind of labor-intensive, so I’m just gonna tell you about it rather than actually make and document it. I think I can get away with this, and you’ll understand how in a second.

So. My pie dough technique is not a traditional one. If you’ve spent some time with sweet doughs (of the non-yeasted variety), you know they basically differ in 2 areas: the ratio of fat to flour, and how that fat is incorporated. Traditional pie dough involves a ratio of 3:2:1, with the fat cut into small chunks (it’s called the biscuit method). Those fat chunks will melt into pockets when the dough bakes, causing flakes. Puff dough involves a ratio of 1:1, meaning there is exactly the same amount of fat as there is flour. That’s what makes it so sinful and delicious. That and the fact that the butter is encased in the dough and then rolled out and folded repeatedly, stretching the butter into sheets, which cause the dough to rise up as the butter melts in the oven. There is also what’s called a “quick puff”, which is a tad less work than traditional puff. In a quick puff dough, you mix large chunks of butter into the flour and mix with just enough water for it to clump together. Then you roll and fold it as if it were puff pastry.

My pie dough falls in the middle. I use the 3:2:1 ratio, but I treat the dough like a quick puff. There are other techniques (I use this one when making galettes, because I don’t want such intense flakes there), but I like this one the best for pies. I also use a 9″ fluted quiche pan, because A) I don’t have the patience to shape beautiful edges and B) those beautiful shapes will melt out of a truly flakey dough anyways.

Quick notes: Since quiche pans are quite a bit larger than traditional pie pans, you’ll need more dough than a normal recipe, and a bit more filling. Also, since this dough gets worked more than a traditional dough, I HIGHLY recommend using pastry flour rather than all-purpose, to keep it from getting tough and chewy. Because this technique takes a while and is pretty labor-intensive, I usually make rather large batches that I portion and freeze for later use. Just pull the dough out of the freezer and into the fridge 1 day before you want to bake it.

So. Let us begin. At the beginning.

PIE DOUGH RECIPE (one 9″ pie):

9oz pastry flour

6oz unsalted butter, cold

3oz water, cold

1/2 tsp salt

– Cut the butter into tablespoon-sized chunks and place in the fridge to firm back up. It should be VERY cold.

– Dissolve the salt in the cold water and place in fridge.

– Put the flour in the bowl of a stand mixer.

– Put half of the chunks of butter into the flour and mix in medium low speed. Using the paddle attachment, mix for 1-2 minutes, until the butter starts to break down into small pieces. At this point you are trying to coat the flour with the butter, which will help shorten the gluten in the dough, making it more tender.

– Put the other half of the butter in the flour-butter mixture. Mix for only 15 seconds, just to coat the butter.

– Pour in the water in a quick stream. Mix JUST until there isn’t a lot of dusty loose flour. I sometimes mix the rest of the loose flour in by tossing it around with my hands. You may need to add a bit of extra water, like another tablespoon or so. You want to see big butter chunks, but you want the dough to hold together.

– Pour the dough onto a parchment-covered sheet pan and pat into a rectangle. Cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge for 30 minutes.

– Roll the dough into a long rectangular strip. Try to keep neat corners by using a bench scraper. Fold the strip into a book fold – there are picture directions for that here. It is OK that the dough looks all crazy right now, it will get smoother with each fold. Place back on sheet pan, wrap in plastic and put back in fridge for 30 minutes.

– Do that last step 2 more times.

– If you are making dough for more than 1 pie, chop up the dough into portions now. Let the dough rest in the fridge for an hour.

– Roll the dough into a disc that will fit into the pie pan. Gently place in the pan and smooth out the bottom. Use fingers to press sides into fluted edge. It is important to work fast while being careful to not stretch the dough, which will cause to shrink up. Place it in the freezer for 20 minutes. This will also help prevent shrinking. Go ahead and turn on the oven to 400 (375 convection). At this point I’m going to pull pics from old posts…

– Pull the pan out of freezer and place an 8″ round piece of parchment on top of the dough. It should fit neatly in the dough shell. Put an 8″ cake pan on top of the parchment. You should have just a little bit of space between the cake pan and the dough, because the dough will expand to hug the cake pan as it bakes. Fill the cake pan with beans. Then place something heavy on top of that (I use a round pizza stone). I know this seems excessive, but seriously that pie dough wants to puff up.

– Bake it at 400 for around 45 minutes, with a rotation after 25 minutes. It should be set up and almost cooked through, so that when you pull out the cake pan it doesn’t start rising or sinking at the sides. Lower the temperature by 50 degrees and bake for another 5-15 minutes, until the dough is fully baked and golden brown. It should look something like this.

– Let it cool on a rack and then fill it up with yummy stuff!

WHEW…That was a lot of typing! Good Luck!


14 Responses

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  1. linda said, on December 13, 2009 at 4:17 pm

    brandi! thank you! thank you! thank you!
    GREAT post!
    a quiche pan…very, very clever!
    i checked out puff mcpuffpants to view your folding tutorial…really good!

    once question: do you use the paddle attachment of your stand mixer for butter chunks/ flour incorporation?

    again with many thanks for this fabulous post…i know that this was a lot of typing & your day off…enjoy your day w/john exploring!

    • brandi said, on December 13, 2009 at 4:27 pm

      Yes, the paddle attachment is what you would use. I forgot to mention that part!

      Good luck!

      Sent from my iPhone

  2. Vicki said, on December 13, 2009 at 6:30 pm

    Hi Brandi,
    Thank you for honoring my request for the pie crust lessons. I just ordered the pans from Amazon. At first I ordered the 10 ” ones and then realized that you use the 9″ versions, they come with removable bottoms and they are supposed to be able to go through a commercial dishwasher! Now you did say that I will need to increase the crust and the fillings for the deep pans, do you have a formula for that? Do you spray yours with non-stick spray. I am not familiar with pastry flour (I mostly use 00 flour for my baking) where do you find it? I just received some fresh shelled, buttery pecans from my family in TN via GA and I cannot wait for my pans to arrive to make your pecan pie recipe with the bourbon!

    • brandi said, on December 13, 2009 at 9:00 pm

      The recipe above is for one 9″ pie. I never spray anything with nonstick spray, I’m more of a melted butter kinda gal. But pie dough doesn’t need any kind of fat, it doesn’t stick and will actually shrink away from the pan as it bakes. Pastry flour is a type of flour with a lower percentage (8-10%) of gluten than all-purpose flour (11-12%). Type 00 flour actually refers to the grind, and that is the most fine you can get. But not all type 00 flours are ground from wheat with the same gluten percentage, you would have to check with the particular brand. I am recommending a flour with a lower percentage of gluten.

      I get fresh pecans from my uncle’s tree in Alabama every christmas and it is my most favorite food present all year!

  3. linda said, on December 14, 2009 at 4:51 am

    what brand of pastry flour do you use?

    i went on the king arthur site & they have 3 types:
    King Arthur Perfect Pastry Blend- a lower-protein flour
    King Arthur Unbleached Pastry Flour- soft wheat. 8.0% protein.
    King Arthur Whole Wheat Pastry Flour / Graham Flour- low-protein soft wheat

    choices, choices… but which is the best one?? i am confused…thanks for your “guiding hand!”

    • brandi said, on December 14, 2009 at 9:52 am

      Well, I will ALWAYS recommend buying local. While in San Francisco I used a local mill called Giusto’s. Now that I’m in Seattle I’m going to try out the local flour here (I believe it’s called Pendleton). Honestly, there are so many variables when making doughs, from the humidity in your area to how each person handles the dough. I would first try a local brand (if available in your area), and if that doesn’t work try the different king arthur ones and see what you like best. There’s no “perfect” flour, because it depends on you! Also, if you are ever using a whole wheat flour, I would blend it with non whole wheat by at least 50%.

      • linda said, on December 14, 2009 at 2:27 pm

        thank you so much for the quick reply & the advice…going to whole foods to see what they have!!

  4. Vicki said, on December 16, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    Hi Brandi!
    I got my pans today and I checked out the flour section at the grocery store–no pastry flour, however, somewhere I read that you could make your own pastry flour by mixing cake flour with something else????? Can you verify that and let me know what the ratio is and how do you mix it???? I live very far away from anyplace that would have pastry flour. I can’t wait to start using my pans I am in heaven.

  5. Alice said, on December 20, 2009 at 3:57 am

    Holy shit, I FINALLY made a pie crust that did not shrink like crazy on me!!

    I tried the cake pan/beans thing the first time (yesterday) which did not end up as successful. My cake pan was not the same size as my tart pan. 😦

    The second time (today) I used lentils and a cast iron pan to keep it from puffing away. I am totally in love with this puffy/flakey pie crust! The process is pretty time consuming but I think I’ll make a day of it and do a few crusts all at once (like today). Total crust count to date: 4.

    Thank you so much for sharing (and on your day off too!) this knowledge. I have been hoping you would do a pie crust tutorial ever since late October.

    • Alice said, on December 20, 2010 at 2:42 am

      Still the best pie crust ever. My husband loves you for sharing this recipe!

  6. Eric said, on January 4, 2010 at 8:30 pm


    I am so glad that you posted your pie crust recipe. I have been jealous of it ever since I started following your pastry posts. I do have one question however. In the description you say,
    “Pour the dough onto a parchment-covered sheet pan and pat into a triangle. Cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge for 30 minutes.
    – Roll the dough into a long rectangular strip. Try to keep neat corners by using a bench scraper.”

    I am trying to visualize this step. First you have it patted into a ‘triangle’ which is then rolled out to a ‘rectangle’ is this a typo on the ‘triangle’ thing and it should be a rectangle? just wondering before I delve into this recipe.

    • brandi said, on January 4, 2010 at 8:49 pm

      Ha! That was a weird mistake, I cant believe I (or anyone else) never noticed! That is definitely supposed to be “rectangle”. Bonus points if you can roll a triangle into a rectangle.

      • Eric said, on January 4, 2010 at 9:10 pm

        thanks. I am gonna try it ASAP.

  7. Judy said, on January 22, 2011 at 4:32 pm

    WOW- I just made pie crust following your directions and it was the most amazing thing! I have probably made thousands of pie crusts and have good results, but this was on a whole new level. The flakiness, the flavor and the shape were perfect. I also have a deep quiche dish (with removable bottom) so I used your technique of weighing the dough down with a cake pan- worked like a charm. I made the pear pie on your site- winged it a little as I
    didn’t have enough pears, so I added some apples I softened on the stove with butter and brown sugar. Fabulous looking and perfect balance of flavors! Thank you for sharing your techniques with others; it was fun to learn something new and to have such great results!

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