For some reason everone seems to love the standard pie crusts and want to get it either flaky or crumbly.

For me, both are equivalent to "dry and floury, and give me the same shills down my spine as nails on a black board".

Thus, I've rarely eaten any pie crust that I like, and neither know what to search for or how to proceed.

I could pretty much go with any kind of crust; chewy like flapjacks, hard like thin crispbread, or soft without being crumbly.

Are any of the above choices actually used, and if so, in sweet or savory pies?

And in that case, what are they called?

  • Crumbly definitely sounds reasonable to describe as dry and floury, but that's an odd way to describe flaky - I do wonder if the flaky crusts you've had were good flaky crusts or if they'd dried out or something. Good question either way, though!
    – Cascabel
    Commented Jan 20, 2016 at 18:00
  • 2
    Making bad pastry is easy - let your lard/shortening melt and stir it into the flour until it completely homogenizes. Add some warm water, knead it to death, roll it out, make your pie, enjoy (if you can).
    – J...
    Commented Jan 20, 2016 at 18:01
  • This is a comment to all replies below: Thank you for all suggestions! I realize I'll have to try them out until I actually can give any feedback, and by the sheer numbers, it seems it will take a few months...
    – NiklasJ
    Commented Jan 21, 2016 at 8:47
  • I know I've worked with both flaky pie crusts, for pot pies, and less flaky crusts for hand pies, like pastys. It comes down to a different water/flour/shortening ratio. I'll post back with which ratios get which results when I get a chance to check. Commented Aug 26, 2016 at 18:20

8 Answers 8


Normally, pies are done with pie crusts, and they do have the crust types you describe.

But you can certainly add pie filling to some other type of crust and enjoy the result, if that's what you prefer. Typical doughs used for crusts would be:

  • millefeuille dough is the most common variant, sometimes also seen as direct substitution for people who don't want to spend the time making a pie crust.
  • different types of cracker crust. If yours is not moist enough, try adding a fruit puree - my mother has the greatest no-bake cheesecake recipe with pumpkin puree in the crust. I've only encountered them in sweet applications, but if you choose a salty cracker or even a blandish cookie with a bit of sweetness, you'll probably be able to make a good savory crust too
  • a very thin yeast dough can also give you surprisingly good results, this moves into the direction of deep pizza for savory pies
  • I have also had a wet chemically leavened batter in some cases (pot pie) which worked well. You cannot clothe a pan with it, you put a layer on the bottom, then the filling, and then a layer on top.
  • in countries where there is no formal difference between "cake" and "pie", I've eaten things similar to a fruit pie or a cheesecake, layered on a very thin (0.5 - 0.8cm) sponge cake layer or genoise.
  • Terrines are also "clothed" in dough. It is less crumbly than a shortbread crust, and together with the "weepy" filling, they are not dry at all.
  • Take a look at closed pastries from Eastern European origin, especially pierogi (Polish style is probably better than Russian) and kulebyaki

You can also forget the pie shape and look into baniza/börek/strudel type pastries. But be sure to use sufficient fat on them, or your dough will again feel very dry.

And then, you can always be creative and make up something on your own. For example, an overly broad crepe or American style pancake (use a broad paella pan on a sufficiently wide burner) for clothing a tin for a no-bake pie. Or make a strata instead of a pie, which uses bread slices. In the end, you can combine practically any dough with a filling, just be creative and see where it takes it.

  • Fruit pies based on a "Biskuitboden" ( =/= biscuit ! This is a simple spongecake baked in what seems to be called a Maryann pan in english-speaking countries...) would be a german classic. Commented Jan 20, 2016 at 13:43
  • @rackandboneman I did think of this when I wrote that bullet point. The version I've most commonly seen (simplest Erdbeerkuchen, for example) uses a rather thick sponge layer, more similar to a cake, but there are thinner variations. It is of course hard to define a border between "pie" and "cake" in this case. Also, who cares what thickness it is, if the OP likes it!
    – rumtscho
    Commented Jan 20, 2016 at 13:47
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    Another possibility is the sort of dough used for Hungarian apple pie: flour, baking powder, sugar, butter, but also egg yolks and sour cream, lightly kneaded together (so no "cut the butter into the flour" flakiness here). Granted, Hungarian apple pie (almás lepény) is not usually round, and the ratio of dough to filling is much higher than an American-style apple pie, but that doesn't mean you can't steal some ideas from it. :)
    – Marti
    Commented Jan 20, 2016 at 17:51
  • @Marti looks good enough to be an answer of its own!
    – rumtscho
    Commented Jan 20, 2016 at 17:53
  • 1
    @Marti It should definitely be in an answer one way or another so that it's visible, so I'd still suggest posting one of your own (partial answers are still useful). If you really really don't want to do that, I suppose editing it into rumtscho's answer would be okay too (if she's cool with it).
    – Cascabel
    Commented Jan 20, 2016 at 19:12

What you are looking for is typically considered a kitchen mistake:

Not-so gentle handling of the dough and some kneading plus a bit more eggs or a dash of milk will add density.

There is actually one special use case where bakers go for that more elastic and less crumbly dough: Cornish Pasties
Straight from the Cornish Pasty Association, comes this recipe.


As others have mentioned, for savory pastries, there are various types of crusts that are meant to be held in the hand, and are thus not likely to be either flaky or crumbly. Examples are pasties, calzones, or even pizza.

For sweet pastries, you could look into the sort of pastry used for, e.g. Hungarian-style apple pie (almás lepény).
a plateful of almás lepény squares
Granted, this isn't what most English-speakers think of when they hear "pie", but there's no reason you can't, uh, "borrow" some ideas from it.

The pastry is made with the usual flour, baking powder, butter, and sugar, but also eggs (either whole or just the yolks) and sour cream, and the whole thing is lightly kneaded together - there's no cutting the butter into the flour1, so you're not likely to end up with anything flaky. And since sour cream makes everything better2, the pastry will be moist and tender, not dry and crumbly. Here's one English-language recipe and instructions, and there are many others out there. (Though if you find one that calls for milk instead of sour cream, run far, far away.)

1 Well, OK, so some recipes do overcomplicate matters, using cold butter and a pastry blender and whatnot, but it's really not necessary.

2 Really, it does. I know this honor is usually accorded to bacon, but I ask you, would bacon really improve a nice sour cherry pie? I thought not. Whereas sour cream can really do anything - use it in place of whipped cream in a pinch, slather it over your chicken paprikás, use it in both sweet and savory pastry doughs... but I digress.


The non-flaky, non-crumbly crust is hot water pastry. This king of pastry is used extensively in Scotland both for savoury pies like Scotch (mutton) pies or for sweet pies like rhubarb. It is a lard-based crust.

You should be able to get a recipe by searching for "scotch pie recipe"


I don't know if there's a particular name for the crust, but most hand pies would have something closer to what you're looking for. They have to be a bit more elastic, as they need to hold up to being stretched over the pie without the support of a pie pan.

You can find things by searching for 'hand pie crust' or 'pocket pie crust' on the internet, as Americans don't have a specific name for them (maybe 'turnover' when they're filled with fruit), but they also go by pasty, empanada, calzone, stromboli, etc.


I make my pie crust by following my basic biscuit recipe minus any baking soda or powder. It makes a beautiful flaky crust. I can't tell from your question if that's what you are looking for or looking to avoid, but that's what I do.


If a firm, finely textured, somewhat cookie-ish texture is acceptable (compare hand-sized, storebought mince pies), try hot water shortcrust. Just do not overbake it or make it too thick, it can turn hard as hardtack that way.


My mother's pies featured a pastry that was thicker than usual, had some heft to it and was definitely not flaky. She used a normal recipe but always used room temperature shortening and water and always over worked the dough. I loved it.

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