Get Flaky with “Fraisage”

The key to getting a flaky pie crust without the addition of shortening or any chemical cheats is a french technique known as fraisage. It is used to blend the dough after all the ingredients have been cut together.  Traditionally, it is performed by using the heel of your hand to smear the dough little by little across a floured board.  Blending the dough together in this way that creates long alternating strands of butter and dough. As the crust bakes, any moisture turns to steam and expands to form pockets between the layers.

Using fraisage also makes a good crust for free-form tarts where leaking might be a concern.  Because you are creating alternating layers of butter and dough, you are less likely to get a clump of butter that will melt during baking and form a hole in your crust as it bakes.

fraisage by hand

Instead of using your hand, you can use a dough scraper, or transfer the dough to a bowl and use a rubber spatula against the sides of the bowl. The important things to be aware of are not to overwork the dough or let the butter get too warm and melt. Just work quickly and gather up the layers of dough into a disc (or two for a double pie crust) and wrap them in plastic. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before rolling.

fraisage with dough scraper
fraisage in bowl with spatula
dough after fraisage

Try it!  Use fraisage to make these recipes:

All Butter Pie Crust

Reveillon Tourtiere

Torta Salata (Vegetable Torte)

8 thoughts on “Get Flaky with “Fraisage”

  1. I am aware if this technique, and have used it but including yourself i have never seen how long you do this for. Did you omit or do you also not know? Thanks

  2. also, i believe this tech. is done immediately after mixing and not after chilling??? Thanks

  3. Yes Lindabelle, After all the butter and flour has been cut together, you use the technique to blend them and bring the dough together, then form it into a disk and chill it before rolling. As to how long you you do it for, it is just a factor of getting through all the dough section by section. Once a portion of the dough has been smeared you do not have to repeat it. Just move onto the next portion. The more quickly you can do this the better because it is important that the butter in the dough remain cold. Hope that answers your question.

  4. Thanks for posting this. I learned some details here I was not able to figure out from the version in a cook’s illustrated apple galette recipe (yum!).

    I’ve since made this many times and get better each time. What I’ve found:
    Don’t overdo it. First pass at smooshing, it barely seems to work. Scrape up with bench knife… Second pass, it makes it really start to come together. Scrape together again… Third pass, done! Just scrape up once more and form into ball, refrigerate.

    You don’t want to over-incorporate the butter when cutting in with pastry blender/food processor.

    You do want to use as much water as called for, rather than limit water as much as possible as I’ve read in some recipies. Seems to make a difference in flakiness.

    My first few were delicious but not flaky. Having figured out the above, they’re very flaky as well.

  5. Jacque Pepin’s method of using a food processor alone (just quickly cutting the ingredients together) without overworking and leaving some noticeable chunks of butter works beautifully. The crust is very flaky and melts in the mouth. Check for a video where he prepares Tarte Tatin (The process is the second scene in the video). I have used it several times and will not use any other.

  6. Jacque Pepin is a master. I always use my food processor to cut the butter into the flour, and definitely recommend for anyone who has access to one. You end up having to handle the dough less, so all the ingredients stay colder. Thanks for the share!

  7. You can. Crisco boasts extra flaky pastries, and was in standard use in high school cooking classes and in many of my friends’ households when I was growing up in the 80s. However, since we have learned about the health risks of transfat, the formula has been changed several times (, and the jury is still out as to whether the hydrogenated oils it now contains are any better. If you are baking for friends who are lactose intolerant, I would recommend leaf lard (, prized by pastry chefs for its neutral flavor and superior results. Or if you do not want to use pork products, duck fat will also work.

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