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Tips to ease the making of pastry dough

Making pastry crusts for tarts (or pies) has always been tricky for me. Recently I learned a couple things which made the process much easier. First, rather than storing the pastry dough in a ball or thick slab, rolling it out in a large zip bag saves time and effort. Second, storing the dough in the freezer could actually improve the quality of the pastry! This latter idea has worked so far, with tart crusts that are more tender, flaky and crisp.

I want to document the first point because it has made a great impact on my relation with things edible and crusty. Many grateful thank-yous to the brilliantly creative and innovative Morrisa S. for showing me this tip. 😀


  1. I start out with my vodka pastry dough recipe. Note that it’s enough for 2 very generous tart or pie crusts, about 13 to 14 ounces each, so to get ready I have two 1-gallon freezer-safe plastic zip bags handy.
  2. Also note in the picture below that I tend to make my doughs on the wet side. So, I also have some extra pastry flour (whole wheat or white) on hand. This is basically the recipe in step 4, right before splitting it into two portions.
  3. Pastry dough in bowl

  4. But before splitting it half, I stick the bowl of dough in the refrigerator to relax and firm up, about 30 to 60 minutes. This helps to counter my tendency towards wet doughs by reducing stickiness and the chance of gluten formation.
  5. Put half the dough in each zip bag — having a scale will be handy for this. Then put a couple tablespoons of flour in each bag, and roll the dough lump about so that it’s more or less coated. If the dough seems too hard to roll out, thwack it a few times with the rolling pin as you would to soften butter — but just enough to make it rollable, not too much to make it too soft or warm.
  6. Pastry dough ball with flour in zip bag

  7. Close up the zip most of the way. With a rolling pin, flatten out the dough so that it ends up about 1/8 inch thick. It’s okay whether the shape becomes rectangular or circular, as long as the thickness ends up more or less uniform. If the dough becomes too warm or squishy, you can add a little bit more flour — but putting it back in the fridge for 30 to 60 minutes to firm up again would be best.
  8. Pastry dough rolled out inside zip bag

  9. When you’ve finished rolling out the dough evenly, completely close the zip bag. Rolling out to each edge of the bag will also help reduce trapped air gaps. Let rest and firm up in the fridge for another 30 to 60 minutes before using or storing in the freezer. If using from a frozen state, let the pastry dough soften a bit for about an hour or so — still mostly rigid but not so brittle as to easily break apart when molded inside or on top of your dish.
  10. When ready to use with your favorite tart or pie recipe, first open up the zip bag and cut along its side edges. Trim to desired shape with scissors or a knife, then apply to tart or pie pan.

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