Back to the Recipes Index

Short-Crust Pastry

Back to the Baked Index

I had always been assured that a mixture of butter and vegetable shortening would give a more tender, flakier pastry than one made with butter alone. Side-by-side testing shows this not to be the case, so I now use just butter. Feel free to use shortening or lard, as you please.

This makes enough for one pie shell with a little left over for decoration. Feel free to double the quantity if you need to.

If you're not dedicated to doing it all by hand, put the flour and salt in your food processor and give it a quick whirl to distribute the salt, then dice the cold butter and put it in with the flour.

Process for 8 seconds until it looks like crumbs, then slowly pour in the ice water while just gently pulsing the machine. Stop right before the mixture forms a ball.

Place your dough in a plastic bag and work it into a ball without cracks, then stop. Don't overwork it or the dough will turn out like cardboard.

Put this in the fridge for an hour, then you can use it.

If you want to do it the way your ancestors did, here's how:

Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Add the butter. Cut it into the flour with a knife then rub it in with your fingertips. I usually then finish off with the pastry blender. The mixture should resemble fine breadcrumbs.

Sprinkle ice-cold water over the crumbs. Mix it to a stiff crumbly-looking paste with a round-ended knife. Draw the dough together with your fingertips and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead quickly until it's smooth and crack-free. Do not overwork the dough.

Let it rest in a plastic bag in the fridge for at least an hour before you roll it out, and use it in your recipe.