The How & Why
pie pastry




PASTRY is made from DOUGH containing large to moderate amounts of fat and mixed in a specific way to give us the flakiness we love!

There are two types of pastry: PLAIN & PUFF…

PLAIN PASTRY – is tender but doesn’t break easily, it is usually flaky with a blistered surface, slightly crisp, evenly light browned and pleasantly flavoured!

PUFF PASTRY – is a rich dough that separates into many light, crisp layers when baked. This pastry requires a lot more patience as the chilled dough needs to be rolled numerous times to create the necessary layers from the butter being folded into the dough.



is described as thin layers of baked dough separated by open spaces…

This happens when the fat particles are coated with moistened flour and then flattened into thin layers when you roll out the dough. When we bake the dough the fat starts to melt and is absorbed in by the surrounding dough leaving empty spaces between thin layers of baked dough.

The type of fat used, the consistency of the fat, the amount of water, the degree of mixing, the method of mixing and the number of times the dough is rolled all affect the FLAKINESS.



as important as flakiness!

This occurs when the fat particles spread over the flour particles, preventing the gluten development.



INGREDIENTS – plain pastry consist of FLOUR, SALT, FAT and WATER



should be done by CUTTING the fat into the flour to sizes as small as a pea, this is done with a with a party blender, knife or your fingers (as long as your hands aren’t too hot)



can be done as soon as it is mixed (but allowing it to stand for a few minutes will increase its elasticity making it easier to handle & roll)

If the temperature of the area is quite warm it is better to refrigerate the dough before rolling, which will help flakiness.

Always flour the surface that you are rolling on and the rolling pin, this just prevents the pasty dough from sticking – but only use as little as possible as too much can make the pastry tough!

When rolling your dough for a base remember to allow an extra few centimetres so that the dough fills the dish completely, and cut off the excess as the dough rather than stretching it – as it will shrink when baked if stretched.



if you bake your pastry before adding a filling do it at a high temperature (218-232°C) so that there is a rapid production of steam, which separates the layers of dough, continue baking until the surface is lightly browned.

When there is a filling the temperature for baking is adjusted to prevent soggy crusts!

So how do we prevent this?


Melted butter can be used to coat the upper surface of the base pie crust in sweet pies, use a hot oven temperature for the first 15 minutes and use a thick filling!


With egg fillings, because they need to be baked at a lower temperature for longer to cook the egg it is best to chill the pastry for 1 hour before adding the filling and using a high temperature for the first 10 minutes of baking.


now… ENJOY your pie with the perfect pastry! :)

Megan Potgieter

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