Danielle Marie-Alvarez's Flaky Pastry
For easy to prepare, buttery pastry, we favour Danielle Marie-Alvarez’s flaky pastry. Her first cookbook, Always Add Lemon, is a stalwart on our shelves and we’re eagerly awaiting the publication of her her newest cookbook, Recipes for a Lifetime of Beautiful Cooking. With plenty of essential tips, her pastry is simple to execute and can be nailed by even the most novice of bakers.
We use this recipe to top Troy's black pepper and beef cheek pot pie. This recipe makes a 345g quantity of dough, enough for 6 generous slices or to top a 40cm pie tin.
65-80 ml cold water
100g cold butter
170g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
1 teaspoon caster (superfine) sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 egg yolks, beaten
Making the dough
The key to making good dough is to keep everything super, super cold. I usually measure out my water first and put it in the freezer. I will also cut my butter and just toss it with the dry ingredients and put that bowl in the freezer too for about 5 minutes. You’ll also find what brand of butter works for you. A butter with a higher fat-to-liquid ratio is best, because it stays super hard even in warmer temperatures.
Once everything is very cold, begin to crumble the butter into the flour using your fingertips. Work the butter into the flour until you have bean-sized lumps. Begin to rub the dough between the palms of your hands as if trying to wipe your hands off. This is what creates those thin sheets of butter that form flaky layers. Add half the cold water and mix with your hands. Try not to stretch or knead the dough; you just want it to come together. At this stage, I like to dump it onto a bench so I can press the dough together. If it comes together easily without any dry, floury spots, then it has enough water. If there are some powdery, dry clumps, add a bit more water until everything comes together. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and press it into a disc. Rub the outside of the plastic wrap to create a smooth edge (this will help get a more even circle when rolling it out). Refrigerate to cool and rest for at least 30 minutes.
If you have a marble benchtop, that is ideal for rolling out the pastry as it stays cold. A wooden bench has the advantage of not being sticky. Whatever you have, try to find a space in your kitchen with enough flat surface to give you room to move. When the dough is still cold, but has warmed enough to be slightly pliable, dust it with flour. Roll the dough out from the centre in all directions, trying to keep the round shape as much as possible. I purposely wrote this recipe to give you enough extra dough so that you can roll it out wider than you need to then cut a neat round of dough. So, don't worry about the edges being cracked or uneven. Continue rolling and rotating the dough to ensure it doesn't stick, until it reaches a diameter of 33 cm (13 in) and a thickness of 2 mm (Ya in). Use a little extra flour when rolling to prevent it from sticking, but don't throw handfuls of flour at it. Trim the edges so you are left with a neat circle (but not too perfect).