This has been my go-to pastry for years. It’s perfect for lots of my favourite bakes, such as galettes, quiche or tops for pot pies. It is very easy to make and use, and it gives you a wonderfully light, flaky crust.

Makes
700 g

Preparation

20min

Skill level

Easy
By
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To increase the versatility, I have included variations for wholemeal and whole rye. Try any grains you can get your hands on and celebrate the difference in flavours.

If you want to add even more flavour, substitute the water with crème fraîche, sour cream or milk kefir. When using wholemeal or rye, the absorbency of the flour will differ, so check the dough as you mix and add more liquid if needed.

I recommend making the plain dough first so you get to know how the dough should feel. Once you’re comfortable with that, you can change the flours and liquids used, knowing what you’re aiming for.

Ingredients

  • 225 g (8 oz) unsalted butter, chilled
  • 350 g (12½ oz) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 6 g (¹∕₅ oz/1 tsp) fine salt
  • 120 g (4½ oz) chilled water

 

Wholemeal variation

  • 225 g (8 oz) unsalted butter, chilled
  • 250 g (9 oz) wholemeal (wholewheat) or spelt flour
  • 100 g (4 oz) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 6 g (¹∕₅ oz/1 tsp) fine salt
  • 140 g (5 oz) chilled water (see Note)

 

Whole rye variation

  • 225 g (8 oz) unsalted butter, chilled
  • 180 g (6½ oz) rye flour or wholegrain rye flour
  • 170 g (6 oz) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 6 g (¹∕₅ oz/1 tsp) fine salt
  • 140 g (5 oz) chilled water (see Note)

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.

Instructions

Chilling time: 1 hour or overnight.

Cut the butter into 1 cm (½ in) cubes and chill it in the freezer while you weigh up the rest of your ingredients.

Put the flour and salt in a mound on your kitchen bench and scatter the chilled butter cubes over the top. Use a rolling pin to roll the butter into the flour, gathering the flour back into the middle as you go with a dough scraper or spatula. Keep rolling until the mixture is crumbly with shards of butter the size of rolled oats still visible.

Make a well in the middle and add the chilled water. Use a dough scraper or knife to gently cut the flour into the water, gathering up any leaks as you do, until you have an even crumbly texture. Use your fingertips to gently push it all together into a rough dough with a slightly sticky texture. If it feels dry, add more water, 1 tbsp at a time, until there are no floury bits left.

Roll out or press the dough into a rectangle 2–3 cm (¾ –1¼ in) thick (exact dimensions are not important here). Fold one-third of the dough into the middle, then the other third over the top of that, as if folding a letter. Rotate the dough 90 degrees and roll it out again into a rectangle 2–3 cm (¾ –1¼ in) thick, then repeat the letter fold. Don’t worry about making these folds perfectly neat – this is just to finish bringing the dough together and layering the butter, which results in a lovely flakiness.

Rotate and roll out the dough once more into a rectangle 2–3 cm (¾ –1¼ in) thick and do one last fold. Wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or overnight. The pastry will keep for 4–5 days in the fridge, or up to 3 months in the freezer.

 

Notes

Wholegrain flours absorb more liquid than plain. If you find the dough too dry, add extra water, 1 tbsp at a time, until you have the correct consistency.

 The pictured dough was made using whole spelt flour.

 

This is an edited extract from All Day Baking by Michael and Pippa James (Hardie Grant Books, $45, available where all good books are sold). Photography: © Lisa Cohen