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Foolproof Shortcrust Pastry (Food Processor Method)

Foolproof Shortcrust Pastry (Food Processor Method)

This foolproof recipe allows you to make flaky shortcrust pastry in seconds by using a food processor. Sweet, savory, and whole-wheat variations included!

How to Make Foolproof Shortcrust Pastry (Food Processor Method) // FoodNouveau.com

This post contains affiliate links. Full disclosure is at the bottom of the article.


For years, I was wary of making pie crusts from scratch. Everything about the process annoyed me: my attempted crusts would be too dry or too wet, they would crack badly when I rolled them out or upon baking, or they would turn out dry or tasteless—never flaky and delightfully buttery—no matter the amount of butter I used.

Part of it was inexperience: I’d never properly learned to make shortcrust pastry, so I didn’t know what to look for. No matter how many recipes I tested, (which all repeated the same advice over and over again—don’t cut out the butter too small, don’t overwork the dough, let it rest), it seemed like I couldn’t master the task. I would’ve gladly resorted to buying pre-made pie dough, except I couldn’t find 100% butter pastry where I live. So, for the longest time, I didn’t make pies at all. A tragedy, right?

How to Make Foolproof Shortcrust Pastry (Food Processor Method) // FoodNouveau.com

A few years ago, I decided I’d tackle the task once and for all. If I’d mastered finicky things such as macarons and éclairs, surely I could make simple, humble pie dough, right? I went back to my reference books and truly applied myself to the task. I took notes of what worked best for me and tweaked my recipe until I got it down to a science. Now, I can make it with my eyes closed, and the recipe never fails. Ever.

But let’s start at the base: what is shortcrust pastry, exactly? You can use different types of dough to make pies, but shortcrust pastry, also called short pastry or pâte brisée, is probably the most versatile. You can use shortcrust pastry to make both savory and sweet pies and tarts: it’s a supple dough you can roll out to line pie plates and flute to create pretty edges, fold up and over fillings to create free-form galettes, or cut out to weave lattice patterns.

Basic pie dough uses flour, butter, and water at an approximate 3:2:1 ratio. Shortcrust pastry also includes an egg, which makes the dough more supple and easier to roll out. Most recipes will instruct you to keep large pieces of butter in the dough (pea-sized, or even larger), which produces the flakiest pastry. In my experience, this produces a dough that’s more fragile, stickier, and harder to work with. I prefer blending the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs, which creates a sturdier dough that’s still super flaky but holds any and all kinds of fillings well, including juicy fruity ones.

How to Make Foolproof Shortcrust Pastry (Food Processor Method) // FoodNouveau.com

This food processor method for making shortcrust pastry is perfect if you’re:

  • a pie-crust novice (like I used to be)
  • lazy (like me) or
  • in a hurry (like I pretty much always am)

A food processor allows you to control the shortcrust-making process, giving you a consistent result, every time. It also considerably shortcuts your way to homemade pie dough. My recipe produces perfect shortcrust pastry in less than a minute. Really! I’ve carefully timed how long you should run the food processor at each step, providing the exact time in seconds. This recipe will never fail you: I now routinely make this shortcrust pastry with my son, allowing him to count the seconds in between the steps, and it works, every time.

How to Make Foolproof Shortcrust Pastry (Food Processor Method) // FoodNouveau.com

Learning how to make shortcrust pastry in the food processor is also a great way to familiarize yourself with the looks and texture of “proper” pastry. Making shortcrust pastry by hand introduces so many uncertainties: the result will vary according to the temperature of your hands, that of your working surface, the tool you’re using, and so on. Because a food processor allows you to produce consistent results, you’ll see and feel the pastry as it should be. In time, you’ll be able to go back to the hand method if you want to, and enjoy that relaxing feeling you get when you make things from scratch.

My shortcrust pastry recipe includes options to make whole-wheat crusts—great for savory galettes and quiches—and sweet crusts, for desserts. It has now been my go-to crust for years, and it never fails me. If you’ve been shying away from making pie crusts from scratch, or unsatisfied with the recipe(s) you currently use, I hope you’ll give my shortcrust pastry a try. It will surely make you more confident in the pies you make—and happier with the results!

How to Make Foolproof Shortcrust Pastry (Food Processor Method) // FoodNouveau.com

Helpful Tips to Make Perfect Shortcrust Pastry

  • Keep butter and water cold—ice cold: This is crucial: the butter and water you use should in this recipe should be very cold—not room temperature, not cold from the fridge, *ice cold*. Ice-cold butter better distributes into the flour, and ice-cold water allows the dough to come together without melting the butter, both of which are key to producing tender, flaky dough.
    • To make ice-cold water, simply pour a bit of water in a small bowl, then fill it with ice. The water will be cold enough to use a minute or two later.
    • To make ice-cold butter, cut it into cubes, spread the cubes over a small plate, then plate it in the freezer for 20 minutes.
  • Shortcut your way to shortcrust: Keep portions of pre-cubed butter stored in airtight containers in the freezer. Whenever I want to make a pie crust, no need to wait 20 minutes for the butter to cool—I simply take out a container of frozen butter cubes and add it straight to the food processor. I prefer this to freezing shortcrust pastry because mixing a fresh batch of dough with frozen butter is much, much quicker than letting shortcrust pastry thaw to room temperature.
  • Be accurate: This shortcrust recipe works, but only if you’re counting accurately. You’re literally seconds away from under- or overmixing the dough, so make sure to concentrate. If needed, look at your watch or use the stopwatch function of your phone to time things accurately.
  • Roll it out now, not later: If you’ve long been frustrated by cracking dough, I feel you. Freshly made shortcrust pastry needs time to rest in the fridge before baking (at least one hour), which lengthens the dough-making process, as you need to properly let the dough come back to room temperature before you roll it out (30–-45 minutes.) Here’s how to fast-forward your way to homemade pie crust: roll the dough out *before* you refrigerate it. I picked up this game-changing tip from Parisian cookbook writer Clotilde Dusoulier: when shortcrust pastry is freshly made—that is, straight out of the food processor—it is wonderfully supple, just like brand new Play-Doh is. This makes rolling it out really easy and fun. After you’ve gathered the dough into a ball, lightly sprinkle your working surface and rolling pin with flour, then roll out the dough to the desired shape and size. Ease into the pan you want to use, letting the excess overhang, or spread it out on a baking sheet. Refrigerate, then bring back to room temperature 10 minutes before trimming, filling, or shaping the dough.

How to Make Foolproof Shortcrust Pastry (Food Processor Method) // FoodNouveau.com

This recipe was previously published in my cookbook French Appetizers, in which you’ll find many delicious ways to make the most of this shortcrust pastry. Learn more about French Appetizers, or buy your copy now!

French Appetizers: Modern Bites for a French-Inspired Happy Hour, by Marie Asselin

How to Make Foolproof Shortcrust Pastry (Food Processor Method) // FoodNouveau.com

 
How to Make Foolproof Shortcrust Pastry (Food Processor Method) // FoodNouveau.com

Foolproof Shortcrust Pastry (Food Processor Method)

This foolproof recipe allows you to make flaky shortcrust pastry in seconds by using a food processor. Sweet, savory, and whole-wheat variations included!
Prep Time:10 mins
Total Time:1 hr 10 mins
Servings 1 crust (enough for 1 large tart or pie, 1 galette, or 18 mini tarts)
Author Marie Asselin, FoodNouveau.com

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Cut the butter into small cubes and arrange on a small plate. Freeze for 20 minutes.
  • Add the flour and salt to a food processor, then pulse to combine. Add the butter and process for 10 continuous seconds, until the mixture looks like coarse breadcrumbs.
  • Add the egg and process for 5 seconds. Add the ice water and process for 20 seconds. The dough should now start clumping together. Turn the mixture out onto a work surface. The mixture will easily hold together when pressed. Using your hands, gather the dough into a ball then flatten into a disk, kneading it as lightly as possible.
  • If you’re making shortcrust pastry right before you need to use it, gather it into a disk, set it on a lightly floured surface, and roll it out to the required size. Ease into a pie or tart pan, lay flat on a baking sheet, or cut out and fit into muffin pans if making tartlets. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour. Use as instructed by the recipe.
  • You can alternatively wrap the ball of shortcrust pastry in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for 3 days, or freeze for 1 month.
  • Bring refrigerated shortcrust pastry back to room temperature at least 30 minutes before rolling. Thaw frozen shortcrust pastry overnight in the refrigerator, then bring back to room temperature at least 30 minutes before rolling.

VARIATIONS

  • Whole-wheat shortcrust pastry: Instead of the full amount of all-purpose flour specified in the recipe above, use 1 cup (125 g) all-purpose flour and ½ (65 g) whole wheat flour.
  • Sweet shortcrust pastry for desserts: Add 1 tablespoon (12 g / 15 ml) granulated sugar to the flour mixture.

Did you make this?

Tell me how you liked it! Leave a comment or take a picture and tag it with @foodnouveau on Instagram.

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Author: Marie Asselin

Prep Time: 10 mins
Total Time: 1 hr 10 mins

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  1. So good! Recipe made 400 g pastry for moi, I have frozen half. I rolled out very thinly four oblong shapes sized to fit the four pockets of my ancient jaffle maker, 50 g each, filled with leftover lamb casserole, took 20 mins to cook. Edges browned nicely, but even the central areas were properly cooked although pale. Texture to die for, melt in mouth. Thank you for the research and testing, this is a total winner and I learned a lot about pastry making!)

    • I’m so excited you used the pastry in a jaffle maker! How fun! The pastries filled with lamb casserole must have been so tasty. Thanks for the inspiration! 😍

  2. Want to try this recipe soon, just have a question… when you say process for ? Number of seconds… what number ( level) do you use? My Braun has levels 1 – 15.
    TIA

    • Hey Marlene! My food processor has just an “on/off” feature, no power levels, so I’d assume it uses maximum power at all times. You want everything to mix together very quickly so using maximum power makes sense. Try it at level 15 on your Braun, I’m pretty sure it’ll be perfect! (Let me know how it goes!)

  3. 5 stars
    This is now my go to recipe for making pastry dough. I have always shied away from pastry as it would be too sticky or to dry and rolling it out after refrigerating was always a disaster, having to try and fix cracks and get it to sit in the dish without splitting aargh, always used ready made until I spotted this recipe. It is absolutely perfect EVERY time – thanks so much for sharing :)

    • It’s such a joy to read this message Debbie! I was in the same situation as you were, soooo frustrated with my shortcrust-making skills. This is exactly why I developed this recipe! How cool is it to be able to take for granted that your pie crusts will always come up perfectly?? 🤩

  4. 5 stars
    Thank you for sharing, like Denise Rosey, I too have forever laboured making handmade pastry with inconsistent results.
    I made the whole wheat version using the food processor method for a savory pie and it turned out just excellent.
    Thank you again.

    • Thanks so much for taking the time to write this comment Rita. It made me so happy to read it! I have a feeling you’ll be baking many more sweet and savory pies over this holiday season 😉

  5. 5 stars
    Thank you so very much for explaining how to make pastry. I had been unsuccessful for 50 years ha. I just made the most delicious mince pies . I can’t wait to teach my grandchildren.

  6. 5 stars
    Perfect shortcrust pastry at last! For years, decades actually, I’ve laboured diligently making homemade shortcrust pastry but too often it was too flaky & impossible to keep intact or it was hard as flint. Fed up with unpredictable results, I settled on buying the best ready rolled sc available. Nice but very expensive. Your recipe is simple, easy to follow & produces a truly wonderful pastry. Thank you.

    • Denise, comments like yours are why I keep doing what I do! Thank you for taking the time to write! 🤗 This shortcrust was life-changing for me and I’m happy and excited to learn it was for you, too. I’d be curious to know what pies and tarts you make with it, feel free to report back!

  7. Question. On the whole-wheat variation, is it 2/3 all-time purpose flour and 1/3 whole-wheat, or vice versa? This is not clear. Please reply. Thank you.

  8. 5 stars
    This foolproof recipe was awesome! It made it so easy and turned out perfect. This recipe is a keeper! Have a great day.

    • Before I came up with this foolproof version of shortcrust pastry, making pastry from scratch had always been a project for me! This means I *never* made it from scratch. This pastry changed everything! Happy it’s being useful and helpful to you too.