Flaky Pastry Dough

Images by Deb Garlick

Making your own pastry is one of the most satisfying baking projects imaginable, yet it draws the most reluctance.  While most agree that homemade is tastier than the commercial frozen options, there’s still trepidation. For those who insist their pastry never turns out or they have the time, this recipe is for you!

Follow the step-by-step images below and you, too, will enjoy the simple satisfaction of whipping up a pie.

For the flakiest crust, you’ll want to use lard. You can, of course, use vegetable shortening or refined coconut oil. Or half butter and half lard (or vegetable shortening). Each produces a slightly different result; I’ve used all these variations at one time or another with good results.

Whatever fat you use, the key to flaky pastry is a light touch and the minimal use of flour.  If you roll the dough between a sheet of parchment (or waxed) paper and a sheet of plastic wrap, the dough won’t stick to your work surface or rolling pin, thereby eliminating the need for excessive flour.   

I use a pastry blender to cut the lard (or shortening) into the flour but you can use two knives to achieve the same results.  I don’t recommend using your hands to work the lard into the dough because hands are warm and can melt the lard.  

You can easily double the recipe but if you’re not accustomed to making pastry, it’s best to start with smaller, more manageable-sized ingredients. 

Makes 1 double-crust pie

2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

½ pound lard, vegetable shortening, refined coconut oil, a combination of half butter, half lard or shortening

1 tablespoon white vinegar

1 egg

1 cup of ice-cold water

parchment or waxed paper

plastic wrap

Place the flour and salt in a large bowl and mix well with a fork or a whisk. Cut the lard into 1 – 2” pieces and add it to the flour mixture. Cut the lard into the flour with a pastry blender or two knives until the mixture is crumbly with some larger pieces of flour-coated lard along with the finer particles.

In a measuring jug with a spout, combine the egg, vinegar and enough ice water to equal 1 cup; mix with a fork.  Gradually pour about half the liquid into the flour and mix with a fork, adding only enough additional water to make the dough cling together in an untidy mass. You won’t use all the water; you’ll likely have some leftover. 

When the dough becomes too difficult to mix with a fork, transfer it to a flour-dusted sheet of parchment and shape it into a rough squat disk using your hands, being mindful not to overwork the dough. Cover the disk with a generous sheet of plastic wrap and roll the dough into a circle about 3/4” thick. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes. 

Proceed with your recipe according to the instructions. Keep in mind, pastry must be cool before going into a hot (425 F) oven.


Incorporating the lard into the flour.

You should have some larger pieces of lard (or alternative fat), mixed in with smaller pies. The key is not to overmix!

Add only enough to hold the mixture together. The dough will look rough at this stage.

Roll the dough between a layer of flour-dusted parchment paper and plastic wrap.

Transfer to a pie plate, trim the edges and viola! you have pastry! Cover with plastic and firm in the fridge before baking.


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