Go Back
3-2-1 perfect shortcrust pastry

3-2-1 Perfect Pastry

Bec Lloyd
Shortcrust pastry that’s manageable on a weeknight and without a food processor? I know, it sounds like a ridiculous expectation for family cooks, but I promise it’s not as crazy as it seems. Here's the 3-2-1 perfect shortcrust pastry guide.


  • 300 g plain flour
  • 200 g cold butter chopped roughly
  • 1 glass of cold tap water
  • Optional - a teaspoon of salt for a savoury dish a tablespoon of icing sugar for sweet.


  • Read this method to the end - this is your first instruction!
  • With the flour in the bowl, toss in the chunks of butter and gently mix them to cover.
  • Using both hands, dip into the mix, scoop up some of the floury butter and loose flour and gently rub your thumbs over your fingertips while letting the ingredients drop back into the bowl.
  • You will be making a gesture that looks like the universal symbol of rubbing cash between thumb and fingers, only holding your hands flatter and using them both at the same time.
  • You scoop, you rub, it drops, you scoop again. You’ll get into a rhythm and within a few minutes you won’t be looking at lumpy white flour, you’ll be looking at flat smears of flour coated butter that get more yellow as you go on.
  • Do not, as most recipes say, keep going until it resembles breadcrumbs. You aren’t making crumbly pastry. You are making flaky pastry. While most of it does indeed turn into soft crumb sized pieces, you stop when the larger bits still look flat and flaky, and while you can still see some streaks of bright butter threaded through.
  • Clean your hands, add one teaspoon of cold water to the bowl and use the knife to ‘cut’ the water through the flakes. You’re slicing it gently through the mix, not stirring.
  • Remember, you may not need the full amount of water in the ratio, or you might need a touch more. Add water one tablespoon or so at a time and stop when the crumbs and flakes start forming up together as big blobs as the knife moves through. 
  • Once larger pieces start to form, test the consistency by pressing them together with your fingers. If the big blobs stick together and smaller crumbs stick as well, stop the water immediately.
  • PRESS the pastry into one big ball or disc. Never knead pastry as you’ll make it tough by creating too much gluten.
  • Wrap the dough up nice and tight in plastic wrap and pop it into the fridge until you need it. If that’s more than a day away, put it in the freezer instead.
  • If you can still see slight butter streaks when you’ve wrapped it up, congratulations! Those streaks create the divine flakiness that you simply cannot get from commercial or home-processed pastry.
  • Follow your recipe for how to shape, blind-bake, and bake the pastry.


Note: if you don’t have baking beads (see pic) use uncooked rice or split peas instead. They won’t burn and will do the same job as baking beads (and you can try cooking with them later, although I can’t guarantee the results!)
Before blind baking
Pastry before blind baking

Pastry before blind baking

After blind baking
After blind baking the 3-2-1 perfect shortcrust pastry

You can see the way the handmade pastry has lighter edges and a flaky, buttery look.

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!