This Sourdough Pie Crust is buttery, flaky, tender and impossible to mess up! Butter and sourdough discard impart a rich flavor, the perfect backdrop for delicious savory or sweet fillings.
Learning how to make pie crust opens a world of baking possibilities: galettes, pies, empanadas, tarts and so much more! Pie crust is notoriously difficult to get right and I’ve had my share of tough, dry, leathery pie crust with the dreaded soggy bottom. A good pie crust is crispy, flaky and tender yet sturdy enough to stand up to juicy fruit or rich custard fillings without becoming chewy or soggy. Although difficult to achieve, it’s not impossible.
Foolproof flaky pie crust
Pie crust requires delicate handling to avoid the development of too much gluten. As a bread maker, I had a tendency to overwork my dough which would result in a crust that was tough and dry. It took me quite some time to get my crust perfect, time and again I’d go through the entire process of making dough, rolling it out, assembling a complicated pie, only for all my butter to leak out of the crust and my pie to bake up tough and soggy. But I was determined to get it right! It wasn’t until I discovered lamination that my pie making finally turned a corner!
I learned this method from the pie master herself, Erin Jean McDowell from her book, The Book on Pie. In her book, she advises heavy-handed bakers, like me, to take the extra step to roll out and fold pie dough after mixing and light kneading. Similar to making rough-puff pastry, folding arranges the dough into layers and layers of butter and flour. When baked, the water in the butter evaporates creating steam which results in hundreds of flaky layers.
Tips for success
Keep everything cold: start with cold ingredients and try your best to keep your dough cold throughout the process. If you feel your butter becoming too soft or melty, wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 to 30 minutes before continuing.
Weigh your ingredients: Pie dough depends on exact ratios of flour, fat and water. Measuring your ingredients by weight is more accurate than volume.
Be conservative with bench flour: Don't be afraid to use flour on your surface and rolling pin to prevent your dough from sticking, however don't use too much or it may dry out your crust and adversely affect the texture of your crust.
What You Need
Sourdough discard - Sourdough discard adds a little moisture and a delicious tangy, slightly cheesy flavor to the crust.
Water - Activates the gluten in the flour and binds all the ingredients together.
All-purpose flour - Low protein flour imparts a tender texture to this crust.
Salt - Enhances the flavor of butter and sourdough discard.
Butter - Tenderizes the gluten in the dough and acts as the main leavener for the crust.
Baking with Sourdough Discard
When incorporated into buttery pastry, sourdough discard imparts a delicately tangy, almost cheesy flavor that’s not overly savory. Pie crust gets all its leavening from the steam that evaporates from the butter as it bakes. Since you won’t use it to make bread rise, you can use unfed sourdough or sourdough discard straight from the refrigerator. Freshly fed sourdough will have a milder flavor than discard that’s been kept in the fridge for weeks, both will work but you’ll get slightly different results.
How to Make Sourdough Pie Dough
1) Cut the butter into ½-inch cubes.
2) Dissolve the sourdough discard in water
3) Rub the butter into the flour and salt
4) Stir the starter mixture into the flour
5) Gather dough up into a ball turn it out on to a piece of plastic wrap
6) Wrap tightly in plastic wrap, flatten it into a rectangle and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes
You can now roll out this pie dough and use it in your favorite recipe. For an extra-flaky pie crust you can laminate.
How to laminate pie dough
I know what you’re thinking. Do I really need to add an extra step to the already laborious process of making pie? The answer is complicated. If you’re already successful with creating flaky, tender pie crusts then you can totally skip lamination. But if you’re tired and frustrated with your pie making journey thus far, then I urge you to try it out! I promise it’s much easier than you think.
1) Roll your chilled pie dough out into a circle about ⅛-inch thick
2) Fold the dough in half and then into quarters
3) Divide the dough into 2 portions, roll out into a square and fold the corners into the center to form 2 round discs
4) Wrap the discs in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before rolling it out
You'll end up with a smooth, easy-to-work with dough that will bake up into a flaky, tender crust sturdy enough to hold up to any fruit, cream or even savory fillings.
How to roll out a pie crust
- Take the dough out of the refrigerator and let it warm slightly (this will make it easier to roll out and prevent it from cracking).
- Unwrap the dough and place it on a lightly floured surface (I like to roll mine out on a piece of parchment).
- Place a rolling pin lightly dusted with flour in the center of the dough and roll outward from the center to the edge, applying even gentle pressure
- Using a dough scraper, lift the dough and complete 1 quarter turn. Roll outward again and repeat.
- Dust a small amount of flour under the dough to prevent it from sticking.
- Repeat until your crust is about ⅛-inch in thickness and overhangs on your pie plate by 2 to 3 inches.
How to Par-bake a Crust
- Preheat the oven to 425 F
- Poke holes in your pie dough using a form
- Line the pie dough with a large piece of parchment paper, pressing the parchment against the sides and bottom of the crust
- Fill the crust with pie weights, alternatively use uncooked rice, dry beans or white sugar
- Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes or until the crust looks lightly browned
- Remove the parchment with the weights
- Return the crust to the oven and continue to bake for 5 minutes or until the bottom of the crust begins to brown slightly and starts to appear dry
How much does this recipe make?
This recipe makes enough for:
- 1 double crust pie
- 2 single crust pies
- 1 large galettes
- 4 mini galettes
Now that you’ve perfected your dough skills, try your sourdough pie crust in these recipes: Apple Pie, Pear Galette, Beef Empanadas.
Frequently Asked Questions
You may not have added enough water to your dough. Different brands of flour may absorb water at different rates. The flour you use may need more water. If your dough is crumbly, add water a tablespoon at a time.
If you notice the butter in your dough begin to melt stop working, wrap your dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for 30 minutes before continuing.
It depends, most single crust pies, especially custard pies require par-baking since they don't usually bake long enough and at high enough temperature to fully bake and crisp the crust. Double crust pies usually bake for long enough to allow the crust to fully cook and crisp up so they don't need to be par-baked.
Extra Flaky Sourdough Pie Crust
- pie plate
- Rolling Pin
- bench scraper
- 226 grams unsalted butter cold
- 56 grams water plus more if needed
- 56 grams sourdough discard
- 210 grams all-purpose flour
- 6 grams salt
- Prep: Cut the butter into ½ inch cubes. Place them in the refrigerator until ready to use. Stir the sourdough discard in water until almost completely dissolved. Set aside.
- Cut the butter into the flour: In a large mixing bowl, toss the butter, salt and all-purpose flour together making sure all the butter pieces are completely coated. Use your fingers to squeeze the butter pieces into flat discs, continue working the butter into the flour by rubbing everything together using your palms.
- Make the dough: Make a well in the center of your flour mixture and pour the discard mixture in the center. Use a stiff spatula or sturdy wooden spoon to toss the flour and discard mixture together.
- Using your hands, begin lightly kneading and bringing the dough together, until it comes together in a cohesive mass (it’s ok if it looks a little dry). Add more water a tablespoon at a time if the crust is too crumbly.
- Wrap the dough in a piece of plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
- Laminate the dough: Unwrap the dough and place it on a clean, floured surface. Dust your rolling pin with flour and flatten the dough out into a large circle, about ⅛-inch thick.
- Fold the edges of the dough towards the center over one another, like you’re folding a letter. Fold the top and bottom edges over one another.
- Chill: Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before using.
- Use: Roll the dough out to use in your favorite pie or pastry recipe.
- Storage: Refrigerate the dough for up to a week or freeze for ip to 1 month.
Did you make this recipe? Do you have questions? Let me know!