This Fancy French Technique Will Give You the Flakiest Pie Dough

published Nov 17, 2020
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
Credit: Joe Lingeman

Thanksgiving Food Fest is a virtual food festival full of turkey, pie, games, and fun, starring many of our favorite cooks, ready to share the secrets of a most delicious Thanksgiving. Watch the event live at @thekitchn on Instagram from November 14-15 (or check back here after if you miss it).

Forget everything you think you know about making pie dough, because Cheryl Day just taught us all the easiest (and very chic, classic French) technique for making super-flaky pie dough with little more than your hands and a bowl. Fraisage might sound fancy, but much like French wine and fashion, this effortless technique makes sense practically and will give you a pie crust with layer upon layer of flaky goodness.

During this past weekend’s Thanksgiving Food Fest, Cheryl Day (owner of Back in the Day Bakery, professional baker, and cookbook author) walked us through her pie crust recipe as she demonstrated her cranberry crumb pie recipe. As soon as Cheryl dumped her pie dough mixture onto her counter and casually mentioned fraisage as the secret to making better pie dough, the comments started pouring in. If you too were unsure how to even spell fraisage, let alone how to actually use the technique, here’s everything you need to know so you can try this ingenious method for flaky pie dough at home.

How to Fraisage Your Way to Flaky Pie Dough

Fraisage seems like it breaks with many American “rules” for pie crust — namely, it asks you to work the dough a bit in order to create layers. Instead of pulsing the butter into tiny pieces in a food processor, this method uses a pastry cutter to incorporate the butter into large, uneven chunks. These bigger pieces make it possible to fraisage the dough after adding the liquid to dry mixture.

After deftly adding water and a bit of vinegar to the pie dough’s dry mixture, dump the dough out onto a clean surface. Then, as Cheryl describes it, “Smear the butter [in the dough] to create sheets that makes even more layers in the dough.” First, make a mound of the dough and then use the palm of your hand to push the dough forward, flip the dough back onto itself, and press again. Work gently to avoid kneading and continue to fraisage, adding any additional liquid as needed. In the end you’ll still have a dough that’s still a bit shaggy before resting, but it will have thin layers of butter throughout which will bake up into the ultimate flaky dough.

You can follow Cheryl’s recipe for pie dough here or try this technique with your favorite pie dough recipe. Ready to try Cheryl Day’s cranberry crumb pie? Find the recipe here.

Then be sure to follow Cheryl on Instagram and buy her beautiful cookbooks here.