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Whisk the flour, sugar, and salt together in a large bowl. Place the cold and cubed butter on top. Gently toss the flour and butter together with your hands, and then briefly rub the butter into the flour to begin combining them, as you can see in the video tutorial above. You do not want to break down the butter too much in this step. This step is only possible if the butter is very cold because if the butter is warm, you’ll end up with paste. I do not recommend a food processor, pastry cutter, or mixer for this step because it will break down the butter too much.
At this point, the butter is still in large cubes/chunks. Begin adding the ice cold water 1 Tablespoon (15ml) at a time until dough forms 1 large shaggy clump in your bowl. Use your hands to toss the mixture together after you add each Tablespoon. (I usually start with 2 Tablespoons (30ml) of water before I begin tossing together.) You can use a spatula or spoon for tossing, but I really do recommend your hands so you get a good feel of the dough. As the dough begins to hydrate after about 4 Tablespoons (60ml) of water, you can start lightly squeezing or clumping the dough together with your hands to help bring it together. Mixture will still be very shaggy, as you can see in the video above and photos below. If your dough feels sticky and wet before adding 6 Tablespoons of water, your butter was likely too warm– you can continue with the recipe, but the dough will not be as flaky.
Pour the shaggy clump of dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. There will still be large chunks of butter at this point and that’s a good thing. Begin patting the dough down with lightly floured hands until it’s 3/4 – 1 inch thick, about a 5×8 inch rectangle. Fold the dough into thirds as if you were folding a business letter. Use your hands to gently flatten and smooth out any cracks in your dough. Wrap it up tightly in plastic wrap, parchment paper, or aluminum foil, or place into any tightly sealed container.
Refrigerate dough for at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours.
Take the dough out of the refrigerator to begin the “rolling and folding” process. If the dough chilled for longer than about 3 hours, it’s likely very stiff so let it rest for about 5 minutes before you begin rolling. Lightly flour a work surface. The dough gets sticky, so make sure you have more flour nearby as you roll and fold. Use your hands to gently flatten the dough into a small square. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a 6 inch wide and 12 inch tall rectangle that’s 1/2 inch thick. The exact dimensions are not important, but the thickness is. As you roll, it’s best to flip the dough over once or twice to make sure it’s not sticking to your work surface. Lightly flour your work surface as needed. Fold the rectangle into thirds as if it were a business letter. (See photos and video tutorial.) Turn it clockwise or counter clockwise and roll it out into a 6×12 inch 1/2 inch thick rectangle again. Then, fold into thirds again. Turn it clockwise or counter clockwise. You’ll repeat rolling and folding 4 more times for a total of 6 times.
Wrap up/seal tightly and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes and up to 24 hours before using in your recipe. You can also freeze the dough at this point. See freezing instructions.