I am not a very precise or pretty baker (as evidenced by the botched edges of my chicken pot pies pictured above!)
However, it does taste good – I promise that. You can certainly purchase pie shells and/or prepared dough for the chicken pot pies or other tasty baked items, but if you want to make your own, you may find it worth the effort, so here’s the recipe and method. (These have no added sugar, but if you want to make pastry for your favorite pie or sweet treat, add a couple of tablespoons of sugar to the mix).
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 8 ounces (2 sticks) butter, chilled
- 1 teaspoon salt (for sweet pastry add 2 tablespoons sugar and reduce salt to 1/2 teaspoon)
- 1/4 cup very cold water
- Measure flour into a bowl, cut cold butter into slices and add, toss a little bit.
- Place into bowl of a food processor.
- “Pulse” the flour and butter until it is coarse (you do not want to “blend” the butter into the flour. Instead you are actually cutting the butter into small pieces – this is why you use chilled, hard butter.)
- With the machine running, slowly add chilled water until the dough starts to form a ball. You may have to stop the machine a couple of times and use a rubber spatula to pull the flour away from the sides so that all of the flour/butter mixture are “pulled” into the dough ball. Do not over process – this creates gluten and will result in a tough pastry.
- Remove the dough from the processor and form a ball with it. Place the ball between two sheets of parchment paper and then use your rolling pin to flatten it, whacking it in different directions so that it is even all around.
- Using your rolling pin, begin to shape the dough into a circle by rolling away from the center of the ball to the edges and moving around in a circle. If the parchment paper begins to fold and dig into the dough, simply pull it away, and place it back down again.
- You want to work quickly with pastry dough and avoid handling it. Why? because that causes the butter to start to melt and soften, resulting in a gooey mess that’s hard to deal with. If that happens, place it back in the refrigerator again until it’s chilled again.
The dough is now ready to use, it freezes well.
Many recipes using a pastry dough will benefit from blind-baking or pre-baking without the filling. This prevents a soggy bottom dough in the finished product.