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A Pastry Trick

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Inspired by conversations on the FOOD52 Hotline, we're sharing tips and tricks that make navigating all of our kitchens easier and more fun. Today, Amanda shows us a neat pastry trick with butter.

Never make pastry the same way again. Many recipes call for cubed butter -- but today, Amanda reveals a nifty hack of freezing a stick of butter overnight so you can turn it into little curls, avoiding the awkward act of pinching butter cubes.

Watch Amanda revolutionize the way you work butter into your dry ingredients, and then make the perfect puff pastry with confidence.

This video was shot by Kyle Orosz. Photos by James Ransom.

Tags: Kitchen Confidence, pastry, dough, baking, butter, how-to & diy

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Comments (20)


over 1 year ago jo

in my quest for perfect biscuits I read this tip: slice chilled butter, vertically, as thin as possible. it was shown using a paring knife, & resembles flecks of butter. I then freeze the butter for 10 minutes or more, after slicing to firm it up then proceed with recipe. my search continues for biscuits i'd call my favorite.


almost 2 years ago mcs3000

Ok, that's genius, Amanda.


about 2 years ago PFossil

I'm sure the more skilled and graceful among us will succeed with this wonderful trick but alas, not I. I tried this and ended up grating my thumb because the whole mess was so slippery. I had to toss the dough... too bloody. And, it all got a little melty and hard to scrape off the grater. I'll stick with the little cubes.


over 2 years ago Komal

I also use this tip, thanks to delia. Will try the alcohol tip mentioned by abbyarnold!


almost 3 years ago paseo

?hanks to Eleanor Klivans been doing this for years


almost 3 years ago tinyapartmentchef

Just used this tip this morning for my thanksgiving apple pie - I will never cube butter again! The dough came together much quicker and with less aggravation on my part than pie doughs I've made in the past. Thanks Amanda!


almost 3 years ago lpeteob

Great tip, but Amanda, please take your rings off when you work with food by hand. A jeweler friend of mine says it's disgusting to see the amount of bacteria that builds up on the inside of rings! I keep a ring holder on my kitchen windowsill just for that...


almost 3 years ago wizarddrummer

great tip. I've had decent luck with a few quick pulses on the Food Processor with very cold butter, but this, I think is more elegant.


almost 3 years ago AMGenco

Can someone offer advice on how to use this technique if I am making a piecrust that involves both butter and lard? Should I freeze the lard and try this technique with it as well? Just use this for the butter and then mix in the lard some other way? This year I'm going to try using some percentage of lard in my crusts, maybe up to 25%, but I like the idea of this butter technique.


almost 3 years ago wizarddrummer

I've used lard a lot and I think that it depends on the type of crust you want. Crumbly or flaky. Flaky crust has wider, broader layers of fat that separate the flour whereas a tender crumbly crust has smaller pockets. You might want to consider doing this. I'm just guessing here but it might work.
1) decide on the percentage of butter to lard that you want.
2) do the butter operation the same as described in the video.
3) cut the remaining (chilled) lard into pea sized or 1/4 inch cubes and toss that into the butter/flour mixture.
4) chill for about 15 minutes, add cold water, incorporate and let rest for the desired amount of time
5) roll out. You should get a combination of crumbly / flaky (again it's a guess because when I use lard, I use cubes that are a little larger than 1/4 inch and I just roll them after blending gently.)


almost 3 years ago wizarddrummer

or vodka / other water substitute instead of water :)


almost 3 years ago petrini.elisa

GREAT tips!


almost 3 years ago abbyarnold

I've been grating butter for years out of laziness! Two other tricks:
One that makes crustmaking SO easy is a round, zippered crust envelope I bought at Bed Bath & Beyond. It is the size a piecrust should be, and you flour your dough lightly, put your dough in there, zip it up and roll it out. Voila!
The other is to use vodka or a flavored spirit (bourbon is good for a pumpkin pie) as all or part of the cold liquid you use to bring the dough together. It evaporates when baked, making a flakier, not soggy crust. Wow, I think I'll go bake a pie!


almost 3 years ago ChrisBird

I got $35 from fine cooking in 2004 for submitting this as a tip. I probably learned it from Delia Smith too, since I am a Brit. But sadly I didn't remember where I got it, so didn't acknowledge her.


almost 3 years ago CarlaCooks

This is a nifty trick. I first learned about it through Cooks Illustrated about 5 years ago, via their recipe for scones. It really works well.


almost 3 years ago Margaret McArthur

I can bump fists with Amanda here; it will change your ever-lovin' pastry life. I know this because of Delia Smith's "Christmas" (BBC 1990) and her recipe for Sausage Rolls, page 72. The grated frozen butter gives you instant demi-puff. I've made it for well. 22 years and it never fails.


almost 3 years ago mcs3000



almost 3 years ago lovemesaysfood



almost 3 years ago chickadee

Great idea!