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Essential All-Butter Pastry

Its name says everything.

One 9-inch pie crust or one 9, 10, or 11-inch tart crust


About 10 minutes to make the dough, overnight to chill, and at least 40 minutes to roll and chill again, and about 30 minutes to bake


This is the flakiest most buttery pastry crust imaginable made without turns, without lard, without—perish the thought!—hydrogenated shortening. This is flaky, plain and simple, flakiness achieved using as much butter, as fine a pastry flour, and as little liquid as we could get away with. You really don’t need another recipe. 

Baking Remarks

For the flakiest results use as little water as possible after the requisite 4 tablespoons have been added. Having said this, don’t fret if the entire 5 tablespoons seems necessary. Weather, time of year, the condition of your flour—these are all factors that can influence water requirements. Once the dough has rested overnight, it should be completely hydrated.

This dough has the maximum quantity of butter we could pack into it and still have it roll out and bake without issues. It is a fragile dough, nevertheless, which is why we recommend rolling it out between two sheets of parchment paper.

 Anson Mills flours are “alive.” In the context of pie dough—which contains liquid and fat—this means the pastry flour will begin to oxidize, or form grayish streaks, if the dough languishes in the refrigerator for longer than a day. These streaks do not affect the performance of flavor of the pastry. We tested it. But the best way to work with this recipe is to roll out the pastry and bake it no more than 24 hours after putting the dough disk in the refrigerator. Or freeze it for up to 2 weeks, defrost it, roll it out, and bake it promptly.

To get a superior bottom crust on a pie—any pie, but particularly a pie whose filling begins as a liquid, like custard—a pizza stone is essential. (If you don’t own one, buy one. You will not regret it.) The crust needs to be blind baked on the stone to become set before it’s assaulted by liquid filling.

equipment mise en place

To make the dough, you will need a digital kitchen scale, a food processor, a dinner fork, a plastic dough scraper, two sheets of parchment paper, a rolling pin, a ruler, a standard 9-inch pie pan or a 9, 10 or 11-inch tart pan, a pizza stone, aluminum foil, and about 1 quart of dried beans or pie weights for blind baking.


    Place the flour and salt in a food processor and pulse to combine. Scatter the butter pieces over the surface (fig. 1.1) and pulse until the butter bits are no larger than the size of peas, 15 to 20 quick pulses (fig. 1.2). Dump the contents of the food processor into a mixing bowl. Sprinkle with 4 tablespoons iced water and toss with a dinner fork to draw the water into the dry ingredients. Turn the mixture out onto a clean, dry work surface, scraping the bowl with a plastic bench scraper. Separate the moist bits of dough from the drier particles. Sprinkle the dry particles with just enough iced water to bring them together, and then fluff and toss the entire mixture with your fingertips. Using the heel of your hand and short, forward thrusts, smear the dough against the work surface to flatten the butter chunks into the flour. Scrape everything together with the bench scraper and repeat. Gather the dough and press it firmly into a 5-inch disk (fig. 1.3). Don’t be concerned if the dough feels straggly with dryish bits; it will hydrate completely in the refrigerator. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, using the wrap to mold and round it (fig. 1.4). Refrigerate overnight. 


    Adjust an oven rack to the lowest position. Place a pizza stone on the rack and heat the oven to 425 degrees; allow the pizza stone to heat for at least 1 hour. Meanwhile, unwrap the dough, place it on a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper, lightly flour the top, and place a second sheet of parchment on top. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to a 15-inch round, flipping it in its parchment sandwich as necessary and lifting the paper to prevent the dough from sticking. Lightly flour the rolling pin, wrap the dough around it, and then fit the dough into a standard 9-inch pie pan or a 9- or 10-inch tart pan, easing it into the corners of the pan. If making a pie, trim the edges and crimp or flute them; if making a tart, press the dough evenly into the corners of the pan and roll a rolling pin across the top of the pan to trim off the excess dough. Use a fork to poke evenly spaced sets of holes on bottom of the dough. Refrigerate until the dough is firm, at least 30 minutes or for up to 2 hours. 


    Line the chilled dough-lined pie pan or tart pan with a sheet of aluminum foil, allowing ample overhang (fig. 3.1). Pour about 1 quart of dried beans or pie weights into the foil. Slide the pan onto the pizza stone and bake until the dough has set and browned lightly, about 25 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees, carefully lift out the foil and beans (the crust is fragile!), and continue to bake the pastry until it is dry and golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes longer (fig. 3.2).

    1. 1.1
    2. 1.2
    3. 1.3
    4. 1.4
    1. 3.1
    2. 3.2