No-Roll Flaky Dough

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Preparation info

  • Makes dough for the crust of a

    10- or 11 inch

    • Difficulty


Appears in

The Modern Baker

The Modern Baker

By Nick Malgieri

Published 2008

  • About

This dough makes a fine tart or pie crust. My preference is to use it for the former, because a pie pan is deeper and it’s more difficult to push the crumbly mixture up the side of a 2-inch (5-cm) deep pan. I also prefer using a rolled dough for a pie because it affords the advantage of making an attractive fluted edge on the pie. Be absolutely sure to keep the ingredients separate looking, like a crumb topping. If you go too far and they form a ball, you’ll have no recourse but to roll out the dough. Use this in any recipe in this chapter that calls for a tart crust made from flaky dough.


  • cups all-purpose flour (spoon flour into a dry-measure cup and level off)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 10 tablespoons ( sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 8 to 10 pieces
  • 2 tablespoons cold water


  1. Combine the flour, salt, and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Add the butter and pulse until the ingredients are coming together but some small pieces of butter remain visible, 8 to 10 pulses.
  2. Add the water and pulse a couple of times. At this point the dough will look like separate clumps of dough, somewhat like a crumb topping.
  3. Invert the processor bowl over a tart pan to turn out the dough. Carefully remove the blade and transfer any dough to the pan.
  4. Use a fork to distribute the dough in the pan: Make an even layer of the crumbly mixture, then go back and push some away from the center outward to make ½ inch (1 cm) around the inside of the pan about twice as tall to cover the side of the pan.
  5. Using floured fingertips, begin to press down gently on the crumbly mixture so it adheres together as a coherent dough. Use your thumbs, held perpendicular to the pan, to press the dough against the side of the pan. Make sure the dough on the side of the pan is even in thickness—if it is thinner at the top where the heat is strongest, the edges will burn while it’s baking.
  6. Finally, using your thumb inside the pan and your forefinger on the rim, press in and down at the same time to make the top edge of the crust straight and even (see figure b).


Slide the pan into a plastic bag or cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate it until needed. This also freezes well, especially if you need to make several and want to get them out of the way in advance. The unbaked crust is fine for 2 days in the refrigerator and 1 month in the freezer.