This foolproof recipe allows you to make flaky shortcrust pastry in seconds by using a food processor. Sweet, savory, and whole-wheat variations included!
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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?
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.
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.
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!
See how incredibly easy it is to make shortcrust pastry using a food processor!
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.
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.
This shortcrust recipe works, but only if you’re counting accurately. You’re literally seconds away from under- or overmixing the dough, so don’t take your eyes off the food processor while you make the shortcrust pastry. If needed, look at your watch or use the stopwatch function of your phone to time things accurately.
If you’ve long been frustrated by cracking pie pastry, 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 (about 30 to 45 minutes) before you roll it out.
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 actually fun!
After you take the shortcrust pastry out of the food processor, gather it into a ball, then flatten it a bit. 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 for 30 minutes, then bring back to room temperature 10 minutes before trimming, filling, or shaping the dough.
There are so many sweet and savory pies, galettes, and tarts you can make with this foolproof shortcrust pastry! Sky is the limit, really. If you need inspiration to get started, I’ve got some ideas for you right here, and you’ll find even more through this link.
Hazelnut and Strawberry Galette
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
So pleased I found this technique as I have tried many times without success, and the ready rolled pate brisée here in France is nothing like UK stuff.
I too am in Normandie and can confirm as Liane says pies are really a thing here. I love mince pies and for the last 9 yrs have had to make do with ready rolled pate feuilletée (flaky pastry). Not anymore! Another one will be Lincolnshire sausage rolls! Only downside to it will be the effect on my waistline! Many thanks. 🙄
Your comment makes me so happy! Thank you for taking the time to write. I’d love to learn more about those Lincolnshire sausage rolls, if you care to share your recipe! Are they like pigs in a blanket? Sounds delicious 😍
So yes, finally, I can turn out a great tasting all butter crust that holds it shape and doesn’t crumble. I’ve always thought I was a great baker who just couldn’t turn out a decent pie crust. Not anymore. Plus, it’s so easy.
I was in the same boat as you for so long! Totally thought pies were out of my league for years 🙄 Not anymore! So happy I got you out of that baking funk! 🙌🏼
I made an English minced beef and onion pie and an apple pie with this recipe. Pies in Normandy are really a thing, so my husband loves it when I make them for him, today it’s going to be chicken and mushroom pie, and I’m using up last year’s mincemeat (we made a new batch a week ago) and making him traditional English mince pies!
Your pies all sound absolutely delicious! It’s so lovely to read my recipe is inspiring you to create such delicious meals 😍
I had compliments with my spinach and bacon quiche using this pastry. I’ve always been using store-bought pastry but now that I bought my very own food processor, I’ll be making this recipe and not buy the pre-made one. It’s so easy to make. Thank you!
A spinach and bacon quiche sounds so delicious! And even better with a homemade, buttery crust. So happy you enjoyed this recipe Mae!
This recipe rocks! No more ready roll for me! I didn’t have any unsalted butter, so used salted instead and skipped the salt in the flour stage, but the result was amazing anyway. Thank you for such a straight forward and simple recipe and explanation on how to make shortcrust pastry. My French husband will now be regaled with pies and tarts galore!!!
I’m so happy to read about your experience Liane! To be honest, salted butter is most often what I have on hand and thus, what I use in my own shortcrust pastry. I do exactly as you did and forgo the salt and it turns out delicious! I’d love what type of pie you made with the pastry, please write back if you feel like it!
I made the bst apple pie I’ve ever made using this recipe 👍🏻
How exciting, Gillian! So happy my shortcrust pastry allowed you to treat yourself to a delicious apple pie.
I’ve been wanting to try more bakery recipes lately and I like this one because of how versatile the crust is.
This pastry turned out beautifully! It was so nice and flaky. I used it to make a peach galette, and it was just fabulous.
This crust recipe is such a great one to keep on hand. We use it all the time for sweet and savory recipes!
This recipe is definitely foolproof! The instructions and images were so helpful and made the process simple and easy.