Calling Pie Crust Experts!

I have a question.

I read a remark from a marketing piece for a cooking magazine that said something along the lines of the following:

“Do you like the flakiness of a long crust pie but the butteriness of a short crust? Well, combine them!” Okay…

I know how to make a damn fine flaky crust pie: top-quality cold shortening/lard/butter cut into flour creates flakiness by creating pockets of air as it melts in the cooking.

A damn fine short-crust pie is similar to short bread cookies: * soft * fat blended into the flour creates a crumbliness that is mouth watering.

When I was a growing up there was a take out place we went to that had perfectly killer pies, I mean, jaw-dropping crust. If I had to describe it, I would have said that it wasn’t a short crust, and it wasn’t a flake crust… it somehow managed to be both.

But try as i might, I cannot wrap my mind around the actual process by which you would creat a pastry dough that was a true combination of these two techniques. Can anyone help me? Or do you just have a seriously ass-kicking recipe for flaky/crumbly pie crust that is so perfect you can practically eat it by itself?

This is of special interest to me since the take out place got, well, “taken out” by the Northridge earthquake, so I can’t even BUY those pies anymore, and I miss them.

I eagerly anticipate your answers!

The pastry chef’s timeless question. Alton Brown (Food Tv) addresses the conundrum here:

His recipe is here:

His show ‘Good Eats’ is on Wednesday nights at 9:00 Eastern in the US (and Canada now IIRC). Must see TV for anyone who cooks.

Very interesting recipe, thank you for sharing. I have to say it sounds odd, though…cornmeal would just make it gritty, don’t you think? Have you tried it?


I’ve found that using more (or all) butter makes a softer crust. You use the cold technique but make the proportion of butter to shortening higher. Using a bit of sugar in the crust also seems to add to the effect, for some reason.

I haven’t tried it yet because:

A. I’m a novice baker and I know how hard it is to make a good pie crust and
B. Those frozen folded crusts from Pillsbury are so darn good.

I’ll ask my fellow Good Eats fans if any of them have tried it yet. Will report back with any findings.

Ummm… were you serious here?

I have a very nice Pâte Sucrée that I picked up in my Baking I course. The problem is, I can’t find my notes…

Give me a day, and I’ll have the recipe for you. It’s an industrial recipe, so it’s all in weight measurements. I’ll fix it to volume measurements if you need it.

And about those Pilsbury pie crusts… when I’ve had to do an entire holiday dinner for 20, they’re one of the short-cuts I use, and they work nicely (even though I’d much rather use a homemade crust).

Javamaven…that would be great! And I do need volume, I have no way of measuring weight.

I find the Pillsbury pre-made crusts really awful, myself. But I DO recommend the Betty Crocker pie crust mix, that’s pretty dang good.

thanks again


Allow me to re-prhase.

*Those frozen folded crusts from Pillsbury are pretty darn good. *

Not as good as Grandmas, but better than I can do from scratch. I always over work the dough.

No news from the Good Eats folks yet.

The Pâte Sucrée Recipe:

The industrial version:
2 lbs. butter
1 lb. sugar
6 egg yolks
2 whole eggs
3 lbs. flour

The easier at-home version:
4 cups butter (8 sticks)
2 1/3 cups sugar
6 egg yolks
2 whole eggs
10 3/4 cups AP flour*

*The original recipe calls for cake flour, but I would use AP for what you’re looking for–you want some flake to it, and you will need more gluten for that–AP flour will have a higher gluten content than cake flour. The sugar and eggs will make this a softer dough, so it is important to keep it cool, and to refrigerate the dough between steps. Also, if you are using this for a top crust (like for an apple pie) the sugar will make this crust brown quicker than a regular crust. Cover with foil as needed.

Yes, this is a large batch of dough, but this recipe is also easily halved and will freeze well. It should make around 3 crusts with extra for decoration.

Cream the butter & sugar, then add the eggs. Work in your flour by hand, and leave some larger bits of butter (like in a pie dough). Divide the dough, press into discs, and wrap in saran–refrigerate at least 2 hours. Roll out for use, fill as needed, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes before baking. Make sure your oven is well pre-heated and is at least 400°F.

Let me know what kind of results you get.