This buttery pie dough recipe calls for just four ingredients: flour, butter, salt, and water. Embrace the butter and learn how to make this simple pie dough for your sweet and savoury pies!
When I was in high school, I worked at a pizza shop after school taking orders, slinging pizzas, washing dishes, and greasing pizza pans with lard. After two years of smelling like lard after my shifts, I swore it off. But maybe that isn’t fair. Maybe quality lard is better than the stuff that came in those big white buckets at the pizza shop, but I need some convincing.
Do you know what else I won’t use?
The ingredients list will tell you the story of why I won’t use it. I know some folks swear by shortening for the world’s flakiest pie crust, and maybe that’s true, but I don’t want the flakiest pie crust. I want the best tasting pie crust.
I want flavour, purity, and simplicity. Bring on the butter!
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Update: Quality lard is better than the stuff that came in those big white buckets at the pizza shop. Reading Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions changed my mind.
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THE FRENCH CALL IT PÂTE BRISÉE
Did you know that butter has a higher water content compared to other fats?
This is why there isn’t supposed to be a straight substitution with another fat when dealing with butter.
Want another fun butter fact?
Well, you probably know this one already, but butter is firm when it’s cold.
What this means for the dough is that it’s a bit more brittle when it’s completely chilled compared to a dough made with shortening.
Brisée, translates to broken, and pâte means dough, so put them together and you’ve got broken dough.
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MAKING SHORTCRUST PASTRY
With four simple ingredients, making a buttery shortcrust pastry can be made without much trouble at all. We’re going to go through the steps together, but first, there’s something that you need to know about me.
I like mixing dough by hand.
I’m sure you can make this in a food processor, but I’m not going to pretend I know the steps of how to mix that way.
By mixing by hand, I’m convinced that some of my love and energy are being transferred to the dough. Most importantly, it’s a way for me to connect with the food.
That being said, if you want to use a stand mixer, you can follow the method in my recipe for sweet shortcrust pastry dough.
THE INGREDIENTS FORMULA
I love culinary formulas because once you memorize them, you don’t need to root around for a recipe.
For a pâte brisée (that is, the shortcrust pastry), the formula is two parts flour to one part butter, a pinch of salt (for every 250g of flour), and just enough water so that everything holds together.
THE IMPORTANCE OF USING COLD BUTTER FOR PIE DOUGH
Before getting started, whatever you do, make sure your butter is cold because room temperature butter just won’t do.
You may recall from earlier that butter has a water content, so when the cold butter starts to melt in the hot oven, the water in the butter quickly evaporates and you get a flaky crust as a result. Now that we’ve ensured that you’re going to use cold butter, cube it.
SIFT THE FLOUR
I use all purpose flour when I’m making pie. The dough doesn’t get worked enough to develop the gluten, so it’s not an issue.
Sift the flour into a mixing bowl to lighten it and to make it easier to work with.
ADD THE SALT
A pinch is all you need, so mix that into the flour.
CUT THE BUTTER INTO THE FLOUR
Now that the flour is sifted, toss the cubes of cold butter into the mixing bowl and cut it in until you have a sandy, pebbly texture.
SPOON IN THE WATER
I use ice water when I’m making pie dough, but my husband swears that the water temperature doesn’t matter.
My whole idea is to keep the dough cold, but you do you.
Now, this part is important: add the water one tablespoonful at a time and be careful not to over mix the dough.
Overworking the dough will lead to a tough dough. I’m not looking for everything to be perfectly homogenous at this stage and am okay if my dough is shaggy.
As soon as my dough starts sticking together when I ball it up in my fist, I know I’m ready to move on to the next stage.
If you were hoping not to get dirty hands while making this pie dough, I’m sorry, you’ve come to the wrong post (see how to make pie dough in a stand mixer), but I’m glad you’re still with me! T
he fraisage is a method where you smear the dough away from you on the work counter, using the heel of your hand. It homogenizes everything together, creating streaks of butter throughout the dough instead of buttery blobs.
When it gets to baking, these streaks will turn into pockets of steam, which in turn, will give you a flaky crust. Maybe not shortening flaky, but deliciously flaky.
Make sure to check out my video below or on YouTube if you want to see this step in action!
SHAPE IT AND WRAP IT
Due to butter being a key ingredient in this dough, it will need some time to chill in the fridge before it’s ready to roll out.
Before wrapping it up, take some time to shape it into a rough circle. This will make rolling the dough out for a pie plate a lot easier because it’s only a matter of flattening it.
The dough should chill for a couple of hours to give it ample time to firm up.
DOES BUTTERY SHORTCRUST PASTRY FREEZE WELL?
One thing I like doing is making an extra crust for future use. I love keeping a well stocked pantry, so if I know I have a busy day ahead, I can cut down a little bit of prep time by pulling a frozen round of dough in advance. Just make sure to label it so you know what it is and when you made it!
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BUTTERY SHORTCRUST PASTRY INGREDIENTS
MAKES 1 SHELL (or a bottom and top crust)
250g all purpose flour
125g cold butter, cubed
pinch of salt
100ml ice cold water (or more, if needed)
BUTTERY SHORTCRUST PASTRY INSTRUCTIONS
Cube the butter.
Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl.
Add the pinch of salt and blend in with the flour.
Cut the cold butter into the flour using a dough scraper or dough blender until a pebbly texture is achieved.
Add ice cold water to the mixture in small stages ( a couple of tablespoons at a time) using the scraper to mix it in. You don't want to have a ball of dough at this stage, but it should stick together when you squeeze it in your hand. It's okay for the dough to be shaggy going into the next step.
Blend the dough together in stages by smearing the dough away from you on the counter, after which, you can ball everything together.
Divide the dough in two, and shape them into a rough disc. Wrap them up and chill for two hours.
PRINTABLE BUTTERY SHORTCRUST PASTRY RECIPE CARD
Buttery Shortcrust Pastry Dough (Pâte Brisée)
- 250 g all purpose flour
- 125 g cold butter cubed
- pinch of salt
- 100 ml ice cold water (or more, if needed)
- Cube the butter.
- Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl.
- Add the pinch of salt and blend in with the flour.
- Cut the cold butter into the flour using a dough scraper or dough blender until a pebbly texture is achieved.
- Add ice cold water to the mixture in small stages (a couple of tablespoons at a time), using the scraper to mix it in. You don't want to have a ball of dough at this stage, but it should stick together when you squeeze it in your hand. It's okay for the dough to be shaggy going into the next step.
- Blend the dough together in stages by smearing the dough away from you on the counter, after which, you can ball everything together.
- Divide the dough in two, and shape them into a rough disc. Wrap them up and chill for two hours.
- May be stored in the freezer for up to 6 months.
- Be careful not to overwork the dough, as this will lead to a tough crust.
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Love and gratitude,