This has been my “no fail” pastry recipe since 1998. It is easy to handle, has exceptional flavor, and is incredibly flaky.
If the idea of making pastry is a bit intimidating, just start with pastry cookies. Preheat oven to 400°F while making a half recipe of Flaky Pastry. After rolling, shape with 3-inch cookie cutters, or use a pizza wheel to cut into squares or triangles. Transfer to a sheet pan, and lightly brush with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar. Bake until puffed and golden (9-10 minutes). When cookies emerge as layers of flaky goodness, you will know that you have mastered the technique.
- FLAKY PASTRY
- Servings: 8-10
- Difficulty: Moderate
|WHAT YOU NEED||WHAT TO DO||WHY|
|12 1/2 ounces (2 1/2 cups)
bleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
|In a 3-quart bowl, weigh the flour; whisk together.||Weighing flour yields consistent results. Bleached all-purpose has less gluten than regular all-purpose.|
|1 cup butter flavored shortening, chilled||Always do this step by hand, never with a food processor. Add shortening to the dry ingredients in 6-8 chunks. Cut in with a pastry blender (or two butter knives) just until the fat is the size of peas with powdery areas still present. During the process, periodically using a fork to scrape off any large pieces of shortening clinging to pastry blender.||Using a food processor turns shortening and flour into a paste rather than preserving distinct fat pockets, which is essential to a flaky crust.|
|12-14 tablespoons ice water||Drizzle over flour mixture a tablespoon at a time, using a fork to uncover dry areas. It will remain a loose mass in the bowl, even though small little balls of dough form. Divide in half and press into 2 balls||Chilled ingredients are used to preserve fat pockets, which cause bursts of steam in the oven, creating flaky pastry layers.|
|3 tablespoons bleached all-purpose flour||Working with one ball of dough at a time, dust workspace and rolling pin. With rolling pin held firmly on both ends, pound into a 1/2-inch thick disc.||Pounding, versus rolling, flattens dough with minimal sticking to the rolling pin.|
|Deeply fold in edges on 4 sides.
Note: During final shaping, tuck any stray or trimmed dough under the main piece and continue rolling over top. Never work or knead pastry dough.
|Folding gives dough a nice edge, and adds layers to the finished crust. Working or kneading destroys layers. The warmth of your hands melts away the desired fat pockets.|
|Flip smooth side up; brush floury crumbs underneath. Lightly pound into a 1/2-inch thick disc again. Evenly roll (do not stretch) into a 14-inch round. When rolling, roll from the center to the far edge, rotate dough a quarter turn; repeat. If dough happens to stick, use a spatula to release it easily from the workspace. Repeat with second ball of dough. Shape as indicated in individual recipes.||Working from the center prevents creases. Stretched dough will shrink in the oven.|
Testing Notes: Butter can replace shortening, but pastry will be prone to sagging in the oven and looses crispiness quickly after baking. If using very cold butter, a food processor may be used instead of a hand held pastry blender. Blind baked crusts and pastry cookies freeze exceptionally well and reheat beautifully in a toaster oven.
FOR LEAF VENTS: Cut four 1×2-inch football-shaped holes in the top crust after placed over filling (large vents allow excess moisture to escape from juicy fillings). Dampen bottom sides of leaves with water, apply decoratively to the top crust; press “veins” into leaves with a knife.