• Suzanne Yearley

Quick and Flaky Pie Crust

November 11, 2017

Suzanne Yearley

Many of us are intimidated by pie crust. It seems impossibly complicated, and reserved for experts only. But by employing your food processor and a few helpful hints, you can turn out expert-looking and delicious tasting pies from your own home kitchen with little effort.

Lindsey Shere, the pastry chef of the famed Chez Panisse in Berkeley, CA, has a delicious way with desserts. Each one highlights the ingredients in a simple and direct way. Lindsey's creations are not too sweet or fancy, making them perfect for home cooks. I have adapted her flaky pie crust, raising the yield so you have a little extra cushion when forming your crusts. I have also converted the shortening to unsalted butter. While the original recipe combined the two for maximum flavor and flakiness, this simplified version is still quite delicious. In addition, adding a little more sugar, keeps the crust tender and harder to overwork.

Tips for a successful crust:

  • Keep ingredients cold, especially the butter and water.

  • Use ice water! Before I start on the crust, I fill a glass with lots of ice and water and place it in the fridge. This is what I use in my crust.

  • Add water a little bit at a time, (amount will vary based on temp/humidity.)

  • Do not overwork; stop the processor as soon as the crust forms a loose ball.

  • Rest for at least ½ hour in fridge or freezer before rolling.

  • Rest after rolling.

Cutting Butter into "Even" Cubes:

Flaky Pie Crust

Adapted from Lindsey Shere’s Chez Panisse Desserts


2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoons salt

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 1/4 sticks of unsalted butter, cut into 32 "even" cubes

4 tablespoons ice water (a bit more or less may be needed)


  1. Pulse flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of a food processor or mix in a large bowl.

  2. Pulsing slowly in a processor, or using a pastry blender or your fingertips, work the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles rough cornmeal with lumps the size of peas. 

  3. If using a processor, sprinkle the ice water a little at a time through the feed tube and continue to pulse until the mixture just comes together in a loose ball.

  4. Alternately, sprinkle on the ice water a little at a time and toss with a fork until the mixture comes together in lumps and holds together when pressed. If necessary, add more ice water, sparingly. Gather the dough into a loose ball.

  5. Avoid kneading the dough. Divide the dough into two balls, flattening into discs, wrap each tightly in plastic wrap and freeze for up to two months or chill for at least 30 minutes before rolling out for a pie.

Yield:  Pastry for two 9-inch pies or one 2-crust pie.






make ahead


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