Haika’s Secret to Incredibly Flaky Piecrust

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Recently, when I was at the Easton Farmers’ Market, I ran into Haika, one of my favorite bakers. A few years ago I asked her to teach me how to make “Pop-Tarts,” which she does incredibly well. As these things often go, we still haven’t gotten around to it and laughed about “maybe next year.” But as she turned to leave, I said, “Wait! Just tell me how you get your pastry so flaky!”

“Oh, that’s easy,” she smiled. “I just have all the butter at room temperature when I mix the dough and then put it in the fridge to cool.” After all, she said, the more you have to work the dough to get the butter mixed in, the less flaky it is.

What?! It’s that easy? Every “professional” recipe I’ve seen calls for chilled butter and ice water. I’ve done a decent job at that version, but it’s hard work because I do it by hand, and the dough is never as flaky as Haika’s.

So, with Thanksgiving ahead of me I tried her version using my recipe—which mixes half butter and half lard (yes, even the lard was at room temperature). First of all, it was a lot quicker and easier to mix! Second of all, when cooked it was DIVINE! And not just in the pie. With my little one, I made just dough “cookies”—rolling out the dough and making shapes with cookie cutters and baking them with a little salt. Oh. My. Lord. I’d rather eat that than pie, frankly. And with a little marmalade on top…now we’re talking!

Try it. With mixing so easy, there is absolutely no excuse to ever not make dough for crusts from scratch. Here’s my basic recipe. If you’re making a savory pie (like pot pie), just take out the sugar.

Basic Piecrust Dough


  • 1½ cups organic flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 10 Tablespoons ROOM TEMPERATURE butter and lard (divide as you like, or use 5 Tablespoons of each)
  • Water, as needed


  1. Put everything except the water into a bowl, and mix as softly and quickly as possible.
  2. Add water until the dough is smooth.
  3. Wrap the dough in parchment or wax paper and refrigerate for a half hour or so until you are ready to roll it out.





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9 Responses to Haika’s Secret to Incredibly Flaky Piecrust

  1. Donna in Delaware December 4, 2013 at 9:35 am #

    Yes! At last, a simple recipe for making dough that comes out well. All of the recipes that I have also recommend that the butter be as cold as possible before blending it into the flour, which as you know, is very hard to do, and keeps you working the mixture until you end up with tough dough. Thanks again Maria, and I hope that you and yours had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.

  2. Haika Powell December 4, 2013 at 9:47 am #

    Thanks for the nod, Maria! I must add that after I mix the shortening and flour I chill it before adding the water. When you add the water make sure to mix gently with your fingertips, just until it holds together. I set the faucet so that I get a fine stream of cold water and set the bowl in the sink to mix. When you feel the dough coming together you can just push the faucet aside. Then you can roll the dough immediately and because the butter is still cold you get your nice flaky crust. I’m glad you got a good result without the chilling, you must have a very light touch! The chilling just makes it a little more forgiving.

  3. maria (farm country kitchen) December 4, 2013 at 10:25 am #

    Hi Haika! I DID chill the dough, after I added the bit of water to make it stick together I put it in the fridge for about a half hour and then rolled it out. It was so easy! THANK YOU!

  4. Haika Powell December 4, 2013 at 12:04 pm #

    You’re very welcome!

  5. Carol December 4, 2013 at 5:43 pm #

    THANK YOU! Another mystery of life solved, finally.

    Question, though:

    Is it 10 Tablespoons butter and lard


    10 Tablespoons butter and 10 Tablespoons lard?

  6. maria (farm country kitchen) December 4, 2013 at 5:53 pm #

    10 Tablespoons total, divide it however you like…and it’s ok to add a few extra Tablespoons if you feel you need it (for example, using whole wheat flour needs more fat, I think).

  7. Carol December 4, 2013 at 8:16 pm #

    Thanks for the clarification and thanks for the tip on WW flour. 🙂

  8. Roma December 11, 2013 at 9:25 pm #

    Thankyou for the wonderful tip

  9. Barbara Marolf June 3, 2015 at 3:56 pm #

    Ihave never made this pie crust. I assure you I will be making it soon.

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