How to make pastry

19 August 2009
Hello everyone! I'll answer the questions from yesterday's post tomorrow, when I'm not so busy. I'm working Tuesdays and Wednesdays at the moment and today will be a big day for me.

I always feel very satisfied and pleased when I produce a good meal by combining our garden produce with the pantry stock. Monday night's meal was a quiche, made with eggs from our hens, and a pastry made with ingredients I always have on hand in the pantry. We had it for dinner again last night and I'm taking the last slice to work for my lunch today. It's delicious.

Many people are put off quiches and pies because they're not sure how to make pastry. But pastry making is another one of those things that if you master it - and it IS easy - you'll have a skill that can be used for a number of things. You'll be able to make sweet fruit pies, as well as savoury ones like this quiche, or even meat pies, an Australian staple. So here is my tutorial on pastry making.

When you make pastry you need to keep the ingredients cold. In the old days, cooks always had a marble slab or bench on which to roll out their pastry, some also had marble rolling pins. Make sure your butter and water are very cold. It's easier to make pastry on a cold day, naturally, when I made this on Monday, it was the first hot day of the season.

Short Crust Pastry
1½ cups plain flour (all purpose)
120g (4½ oz) cold butter straight from the fridge
1 tablespoon cold water from the fridge - you may need to add 2 or 3 tablespoons of water - it will depend on the weather (if it's humid you'll use less water) and the flour you use. Start off with one tablespoon, and add the others in small portions if needed.
1 egg yolk

Spray a quiche form or baking tray with cooking oil and leave to one side.

Put the flour and butter in a food processor and process for about 30 seconds - until you have what looks like breadcrumbs.

Click on the photos to enlarge.

Mix the egg yolk with the water and add to the mix. Process again. If you need more water, add it now and process again. The pastry will start to form a clump, and then collect around the blade. When it does that, it's ready.

The pastry will look dry but if you take some and squeeze it between your finger tips, it will stick together and not fall apart.

Take the pastry out of the processor and place it onto a lightly flour bench. Work fast now, you don't want the cold butter to melt in the pastry.

To roll out the pastry, roll up and down a couple of times, applying light pressure. Turn the pastry a quarter of a turn and roll again - up and down a few times. Turn a quarter of a turn again. Repeat this until you have a round disc large enough for the cooking pan you're using.

You might need a palette knife to lift it, I did, the warmer the temperature in your kitchen, the more it's likely to stick. Place your rolling pin at the edge of the pastry and roll the pastry around the pin, lift it up and place it on top of the baking tin. Gentry ease it over the tray and press it in place.

Make sure the pastry comes up to the top of the tray and then, with a sharp knife, cut the top of the pastry off to make a neat edge. If you have any holes in the pastry, and you often do, patch them with bit of the cut off pastry. Just place the patch over the hole and press it to connect with the pastry surrounding it.

When everything looks right, take a knife or fork and make holes in the bottom of the pastry. That stops it from rising when it's in the oven.

Now put the uncooked pastry in the fridge for 30 minutes. This allows the gluten in the flour to relax and it hardens the butter again. If you don't do this, your pastry will be a bit tough and it will shrink.

After 30 minutes, blind bake the pastry until it's a light golden brown. Blind baking is when you bake the pie crust without the filling. Take a piece of baking paper and place it on top of the pastry, then cover the paper with some rice, chic peas or dry beans. Then place in the oven and bake on 180C (350F). I keep chic peas for the purpose in a small jar in the cupboard - they can be used over and over again.

When the pastry is cooked, you can add whatever filling you like. We had eggs, sour cream, cheese, onions, garlic, mushrooms and bacon. Make the filling earlier so it has a chance to cool down before adding it to the pastry shell. When the filling is in, return to the oven and bake until the top if a golden yellow and a knife inserted in the filling, comes out fairly dry.

Other fillings to use include:
* spinach, onions, cheese and eggs
* zucchini, onions, garlic, eggs, cream and cheese

With the addition of a little sugar to the pastry recipe, you could make a delicious fruit pie. Nothing in this whole world is better than a peach pie or (maybe) a cherry pie. When the next meeting of world leaders takes place, I propose one of us make a peach pie and take it along to the meeting. We should serve the pie up to the leaders and before leaving, remind them that the people whose lives are in their hands are real people who eat things like peach pie. We'll make sure everyone has a cup of good coffee or tea before we leave. I bet that meeting would produce a better outcome than most of those we hear about. Sometimes good food reminds us of things that are otherwise forgotten.


  1. Thank you for the recipe Rhonda. Our chooks have been laying double time so it will be quiche for dinner tonight. Hope you have a great day, Melissa

  2. I love the idea of taking peach pie to world leaders. I think a bunch of sensible housewives could teach them so much in so many more ways too :-)
    I made my first pastry this week to use up some wrinkly apples (delicious little tarts) but this has shown me how to improve what I did.
    Thanks again for such a fab, useful blog.
    Karen (Scotland)

  3. Thanks Rhonda, any recipes I read for shortcrust pastry make it sound so tricky and something that you need a technical skill or background to achieve a good result. You have put a human voice to this and made it seem not only achievable but almost easy.

  4. Love your blog Rhonda, I am a regular follower now!
    Just a tip with pastry sticking to the bench;
    When I make apple and Gramma pies I roll the pastry between 2 sheets of baking paper. Then I can take the top layer off, and flip the pastry into the dish in one piece (carefully of course!!) I've never managed to get the pastry off the bench in one piece any other way!
    As for the rest of your blog, you are a real inspiration, especially because you're sharing your life, not forcing your ways down our throats! I'm a 29 yo mother of 2 boys who's trying to slow down our living. We recently moved to a 40 acre property in the Hunter Valley NSW and this was just what we needed. I teach part time, and enjoy time with my boys the rest of the time. I love cooking from scratch (I do cook sweets far too much), I've discovered that I actually hate the shops (I never went too often, but more than necessary), and I've discovered how much fun it is to ride a bike up and down the driveway (albeit almost half a kilometre!) My husband and I just finished building our tin vegie gardens and herb boxes, and have a friend with bobcat coming next week to distribute our 12 cubic metres of soil! I even discovered that I can use a drill!
    My husband has just started a business, so with me working part-time our income is tiny indeed, and yet we are not only getting by, the whole family is thriving! This living simpler is wonderful, even in these early setting up/working hard stages. What frustrates me is when I hear people say (my brother's a prime example) that they'd love to move out here, or have a little bit of land, a few acres, but that they can't. These are generally people who earn 3 times our regular income, let alone our current one! And a great friend of mine has recently shown how it can all be done in her fairly small suburban backyard!
    Sorry for the long winded message, but I wanted you to know that you are inspiring many of us, and that anyone can and should slow down their lives.

  5. Hi Rhonda, I'm a lazy quiche maker, just adding a little flour to my egg/cheese/milk mix so it sets firmer and doesn't need pastry. But you make pastry making look easy so I'm going to give it a go!

    I notice you use spray oil. In NZ we can get little pump spray bottles that you can pour your oil into, pump and then spray. Have you ever seen them in Australia?

    A warm hug as well as the peach pie and cup of tea might help ;)

  6. I've never been inspired to try making pastry Rhonda, but you've made it seem very achievable. I'll have a go. Thanks so much. Anita. xx

  7. Rhonda, the recipe sounds great! I always have a terrible time with pastry and I'm 60 years old!!! I don't have a food processor so use a pastry cutter, but think I work it too much as it's tough. I've been using purchased pie crusts. Would you please share the recipe for the quiche filling? We love quiche but have never had one from scratch, so I have no idea how much of what to use. Thanks so much!!
    Vivian (Michigan, USA)

  8. Love Quiche! Your Quiche looks fantastic!!!!

    I'm going to put your recipe into my YummySoup recipe program with reference to your blog post... so that I can give it a try!

    So appreciate you sharing your wisdom!!!

  9. I think that even my meat-and-potatoes husband would like to eat quiche! That looks delicious! Thanks for sharing the instructions!!

  10. Thank you Rhonda, I'll try pastry making again. Mine seems to be rubbery so I usually go for store bought. Quiche, salad and chutney - yum!

    Cheers - Joolz

  11. Thank you for those wonderful tips Rhonda. I no longer buy frozen pastry, most of the products contain preservatives or are made from margarine or canola oil.I do not use white flour in my baking and never had good pastry results with store bought wholemeal flour. I now have a mill and grind wheat (organic, bio-dynamic costs a lot less than flour!)- my mill is able to produce a finer flour which makes great pastry. I have to make large quiches for my family and have a wonderful big, deep, ceramic French style quiche dish I bought at Freedom. How I wished I bought two. They sold out and I have searched all the stores including all the kitchen shops for another dish. They only seem to have non-stick bake ware which I do not use or shallow, small quiche dishes. Does anybody know where in Australia, I can find a reasonably priced, big, deep, round ceramic quiche dish? I want to cook in double quantities and we do enjoy a substantial quiche!

  12. Oh my...your quiche looks delicious. I happen to love it...but my family does not share my feelings! But since my chickens are laying more and more, they may just have to change their minds! And I have to makes me so happy when I make a meal that extends to 2 or 3 meals. I feel like I'm being a good steward of what I've been given.

    I hope your busy days go smooth as silk! xo

  13. Good morning Rhonda, Like Viv I have a terrible time with pastry even ay 54. I'm embarrassed to admit that I usually resort to frozen. However, you'd led me to sewing, vegie gardening, bread baking, soap making..why not this? :)

  14. My aunt used to use bacon grease. What do you know about adding different animal fats?

  15. Love your quiche recipes, they sound so yummy! I don't have any trouble making the pastry--it's rolling it out without tearing it that was my problem. I use an Amish pat-in-pan crust that works wonderfully. Everything is mixed in the dish and pressed into it--no rolling! It's a wonderful crust and I have never had it fail.

  16. The crust is chilling and I'm off to saute the zucchinis, onions, and chard from the garden. Thanks for this! It's an easier recipe than the one I've use for years.

  17. Do you have the saying "easy as pie" in Australia? When I was in my 20s and struggling with pastry dough I'd think of that silly little phrase and shake my head with frustration.

  18. Thank you so much for the recipe Rhonda! I want to try this so bad as I just bought a quiche dish the other day at a thrift store! So perfect timing.

    I love the idea of taking peach pie to the world leaders. Some of them probably have forgotten how wonderful such a dish can be!

    Have a great day! :)

  19. Hi Rhonda! Thanks for the pastry tutorial especially the 'tips'. I think my pastry is going to be more successful in the future.
    By the way how much sour cream do you put in with the six eggs, as I might try your recipe.
    Thanks for a great blog! You're a real inspiration to us all!

  20. Thanks for the recipes and the hints on how to get a good pastry crust! You've inspired me to make a quiche AND a peach pie! Yummm

  21. Rhonda,

    I am usually a silent observer to your wonderful blog. But I thought I would add a quick comment to your pastry recipe. I find it helpful to use ice water for the crusts. It helps to make your final product flaky.
    Thanks for creating such a informative place for me to visit on the web. I have learned so much.
    I have been using your laundry detergent recipe for several months now (and have shared with some friends at work - Spring Arbor University). I hope to make your soap recipe as soon as I compleate the canning season here.
    Darcy (Horton, Mi. USA)

  22. Thank you Rhonda Jean for your blog and the time and energy you put into it. I look forward to reading all you have to say. It's better than watching a movie. It feels like home. Cathy

  23. Thanks for the pastry recipe. I will try it the next time I make a pie crust. I have not used a food processor to blend the flour and butter, but will try it.
    I was wondering about the cranberry and walnut biscuits in your Sept 11, 2008 post. They look divine. Have you give the recipe for them in one of your post? If so, would you please tell me where I can find it? They also look delicious.
    I am really enjoying reading your daily post. I have learned a lot and you keep me inspired to work each day to find another way to keep simplifying my life.
    Thanks, Pat

  24. Like many of the commenters, pastry making is sometimes tricky for me. I SHOULD be able to do it - my mum's an absolute wiz at it ... but perhaps this is one of those skills that (unfortunately) isn't genetically passed down. I might follow your steps next time - it has never occurred to me before to use a food processor. Maybe it's worth a try?

  25. Hi Rhonda,
    Thanks for this. I am going to give it a try.
    I think that the next meeting of world leaders should be held at your place. I think that with your home cooking and a chat over a good cup of coffee, you could make them see sense on a lot of thins!!! LOL

    Please can you tell me how long whey will keep in the fridge. I always have plenty left over and don't want to throw it away, but don't know what to do with it.

    Birmingham UK

  26. Hi Kim, I'm not sure too many world leaders are ready to hear what I have to say.

    Whey will keep in the fridge for about a month. Of course that will depend on how cold your fridge is set and how often the door is opened. Generally after a month, it will start forming mold on the surface. Don't ask me how I know that. ;- )

  27. Tammy James, try it, I'm sure you'll get the hang of it.

    Viv, my quiche fillings are never by the book, I use what we have on hand. For this one I used 6 eggs, 1 cup sour cream, one chopped onion, 1 cup sliced mushrooms, 200 grams bacon(about ¼ lg), about 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese and ¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Don't but special cheese for this, use whatever you have in the fridge.

    Kristy, I smiled reading your story. Good luck love.

    Thanks for all the tips.

    Ann, I'm interested in your mill, have you written about it on your blog?

    ms lottie, I believe they are here but I'm never in the shops to pick one up. I'll keep it on my list.

    Thanks Cathy.

    Pat, the biscuit recipe is here:

  28. kurrabikid, it is worth a try. Yet another skill under your expanding belt. Good luck love and take care.

  29. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Rhonda for such a wonderful blog. I visit you daily to find inspiration and information. Your posts are concise and photos amazing! I am going to try your quiche recipe along with your recipe for soap-making. I've been wanting to try my hand at soap-making for awhile now. I'll let you know how it goes...

    Much appreciation,

  30. I would also recommend that you try a few different pastry recipes before giving up. I could never make pastry well until I found this particular recipe that I now use all the time. Not all pastry recipes are exactly the same - similar but not identical.

    My other suggestion is to roll out the pastry as little as possible. The more you work it, the tougher the resulting pastry seems to be.

    I like that idea of rolling it out on wax paper? parchment paper? We don't have baking paper here. To get it to the pie plate in one piece, I always rolled it around my rolling pin and unrolled it over the plate. That is the only way I know of to get the pastry centered onto the pie plate properly.

  31. Ooooh peach pie is my favorite! Can you believe it- DH hadn't even TASTED peach pie...when I heard that, I had to make him one- it's best with the filling uncooked before pouring into the pie shell and baking. He loved it! :D Sadly, he's not too big on quiche :(, another one of my favorites. Crustless quiche with broccoli and cheese is delicious, and such a wonderful breakfast dish. :D Will definitely have to try the zucchini kind! Yum! :D

  32. Oh, delish! Looks marvelous, and our chooks JUST started laying their first eggs (we got them as day-old chicks in April), so this looks like a great way to celebrate them learning their role in life! :)

    I generally think all world leaders would make much better decisions if their stomachs were full of good home cooking instead of elaborate, unfamiliar, gourmet meals and/or fast food! Not to mention how much more cheerful and less aggressive they would be!


  33. Oooooo, Thank you! Now I know what to fix for supper. Quiche with a salad from garden. Sounds delicious!

  34. I never get tired of coming back to your blog and seeing all that you have done! My oh my. The pastry recipe is one that I have to try since I put some peaches in the freezer along with blackberries. I am also going to try it with eggs and a few other items. Now that hubby has found the black snake in our chicken coop we should be having more eggs again! My son-in-law took it down the road a fair piece and dropped it off. Well, you have to take the squeamish stuff with the good!!!
    I'll be back later to check on more, but for now I need to take care of the green beans, squash and tomatoes from the garden. Summertime is flying by!!!
    Take Care!!

  35. this looks delicious (though mine would likely be vegan) !! pastry dough, who knew? okay, i'll give this a whirl sometime. great post! made me hungry!

  36. Thank you for this tutorial. I'm good at fillings, but not pastry. I think I'm letting my dough get too warm.




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