Making flaky pie and tart pastry is easy with three basic pastry ingredients: flour, fat such as butter, and liquid.
Many recipes call for equal parts of liquid to solid. The ingredients start with a “3-2-1” ratio; 3 parts flour, 2 parts fat, and 1 part water. Flour is a solid and water is a liquid. Butter starts as a solid ingredient but melts when heated, becoming a liquid, therefore the butter and water become the 3 liquid parts that equal 3 parts flour.
A basic pastry recipe is 2½ cups flour (approximately 12 ounces) + 1cup butter (8 ounces) + ½ cup water (4 ounces.)
What’s the secret for making flaky pastry? The secret to flaky pastry is the butter temperature; keeping the butter a solid ingredient until it bakes and becomes a liquid ingredient.
The butter must be kept cold when added to the flour so that the butter pieces don’t actually combine with the flour but instead stay as small whole pieces layered with the flour.
- Start with very cold butter and use a method called “cut-in” which breaks the butter into small but still whole pieces. To “cut-in” the butter use a pastry blender, or two knives, or an electric mixer or food processor; each of these tools will limit warm hands coming into contact with the dough. After the butter is cut in, the particles of butter should be about the size of peas.
- Add ice cold water to bind the mixture together. Use Ice cold water instead of cold or warm water to keep the dough temperature low.
- Quickly pat the dough into a round disc, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes. The refrigerator time allows the flour to fully absorb the water and thoroughly chills all the ingredients before using.
- Roll the dough according to the recipe you are using
- When the dough is baked the butter heats and melts. The heated butter and water create steam which expands the surrounding dough producing air pockets and flaky pastry!