Laminating Your Pie Dough is the Secret to the Flakiest Crust
I have decided that pie is my platonic ideal dessert. From the flaky, buttery, crispy crust to the filling and topping, pie packs a wide range of textures into one clean package. Not to mention the endless seasonal flavor options: There's apple and pumpkin in the fall, blueberry and rhubarb in the spring, and countless evergreen stand-bys—from Key lime to egg custard—that we turn to year-round. There are the regional specialties (pies so rooted in Southern places, they've become a part of state history); the vintage pies that we love to rediscover; and the new, inventive twists that we can't wait to try (like these no-bake varieties).
If you feel as strongly about pie as I do, you've probably spent a fair share of time honing your pie craft. I'm always testing out new pie recipes and techniques, striving to make the absolute best pies from scratch. In my kitchen, every element of every pie is homemade. One of the many joys of making pie from scratch is the long, detailed process: I savor every step of the journey, meticulously adjusting small details to engineer the perfect pie. Today, I'm here to share a pie dough hack that has seriously changed my pie game: Lamination.
You may have heard this term before in reference to croissants or other pastries, such as danish. "Lamination is the process of folding and rolling butter into dough over and over again to create super-thin layers," writes Nina Friend for Food & Wine. "These layers, which alternate between butter and dough, are what give croissants their signature honeycomb interior structure and their fabulously flaky texture."
Lamination can be a tedious, time-intensive process, but it's the key step to achieving those coveted flaky layers of pastry. This technique is typically used in making croissants, pain au chocolat, or danish. But…why not pie dough? When judging pie dough, one of the qualities I'm evaluating is its flakiness—the more crispy, golden layers of pastry, the better. The last thing I want in pie is a dense, soggy bottom.
When it comes to pie, the process of "lamination" takes on a slightly different meaning. Rather than sandwiching butter between layers of dough, laminating pie dough simply involves rolling and folding pie dough (which already has the butter incorporated) to create flaky layers. Consider this a shortcut version of lamination—rather than spend hours beating a block of butter into a smooth sheet, as you would when making croissants, all you have to do to laminate your pie dough is roll it out, then fold it. Here's how it's done.
How to Laminate Pie Dough
To start, make your pie dough. Shape it into a round, wrap it in plastic wrap, and let it chill in the fridge for at least an hour, or up to overnight. It's imperative that the pie dough has time to fully chill before rolling (more on that here). Once your pie dough has chilled, remove it from the refrigerator, unwrap, and place the dough on a well-floured surface. Roll the dough out to approximately ¼- to ⅛-inch thickness (the thickness of an average pie crust). Then fold the top half of the dough over the bottom half, creating two layers of dough. Fold this in half again, this time folding the left half over the right. Now once more: Fold the top half of the dough over the bottom half, creating the sixth and final layer. Simply re-wrap the pie dough and allow it to chill for another hour (or more) before handling.
And just like that, you've laminated your pie dough! Yes, it really is that easy. This extra rolling session creates additional layers that will crisp beautifully in the oven. After laminating your pie dough and allowing it sufficient time to chill, simply proceed as you would with any standard pie dough—roll it out again and set it in a pie dish. The results? Your flakiest crust ever—guaranteed.