Published September 1, 2005.
All-butter pie doughs tout great flavor, but they often fail to be flaky and are notoriously difficult to work with. Could we get everything right?
An all-butter pie pastry can become a greasy mass of dough that's not only difficult to roll out but that bakes up into a stiff, dense shell.
We wanted an all-butter pie pastry that was easy to mix, handle, and roll, producing a pie crust with all the tenderness and flavor that the description "all-butter" promises.
We initially tried to make the dough easier to handle by reducing the amount of butter, but this resulted in bland flavor and dry texture. Rather than adding back the subtracted butter, we experimented with other forms of fat, including heavy cream, cream cheese, and sour cream. We found that sour cream not only added flavor but, because acid reduces gluten development, also helped keep the dough tender. But sour cream had one drawback: Its additional moisture made the dough too damp to cut in and properly disperse small bits of butter. We compensated by using the food processor, which brought the ingredients together quickly and evenly.list of recipes