Flaky Pastries: American Pie Pastry

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

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The methods for making American-style pie dough produce a crust that is both tender and flaky. They disperse some of the fat evenly into the dough, separating small particles from each other, and some coarsely, separating different layers of the dough from each other. There are various ways to accomplish this. One is to work the fat into the dry flour in two different stages, the first time finely, the second in pea-sized pieces. Another is to add the fat all at once, and use the fingers to fragment and gently rub the chunks down to pea size; the rubbing does the fine dispersion. (This method works better with shortening than with butter, which warm fingers can soften excessively.) A small amount of cold water, 2–4 tablespoons per cup/15–30 gm per 100 gm flour, is then added and the mixture manipulated very briefly, just until the water is absorbed and a dough forms.