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The Science of Pastry Crusts


To make a great pastry crust, it is important to understand a little of the science. There are very few ingredients, so there is less room for error, which is why measuring accurately is so necessary. And because there are so few ingredients, each ingredient has a key roll, and using the best of each ingredient will make a big difference.


USE THE BEST INGREDIENTS – The brands we have listed will let you make a great pastry crust every time. They not only taste better but production of each is controlled so the product is consistent. The size of the sugar crystal, the amount of protein in the flour, the shape of the salt – all these things will affect the way the crust bakes. Little differences in the ingredients can lead to a big difference in the crust.


Gold Medal Unbleached All Purpose Flourhas a lower protein amount than some all purpose flours – 10.5 percent protein. This is a good flour for baking a pastry crust that you want to be more tender. In addition, the company ensures that the protein content is carefully calibrated, so you get consistent results. Also, it is important to use the unbleached flour.

King Arthur Flour– King Arthur is an employee-owned company that responsibly sources the wheat for their flours, and it pays off in the taste and quality. They have a “never bleached” guarantee, which means their flours don’t have an off taste or unpredictable results that can be caused by bleaching. They also carefully calibrate the protein content, which means the flour gives you the same results, every time you bake. King Arthur unbleached all purpose flour– 11.7 percent protein – is good for baking crusts that are a little more hearty and need some substance, which the higher protein provides.


We useWholesome organic sugar, because it is produced from sugar cane fields that are green cut and are not burned or treated with herbicides or synthetic fertilizers. Burning sugar cane fields contributes to air pollution andclimate change, and is a major cause of the destruction of the rain forest. Buying sugar from fields that are green cut helps prevent this destruction. The sugar also has a better taste because of how it is produced, but mostly we use it because it is a sustainable choice. It is more expensive than buying the standard brands, but the difference is only a few cents per recipe, so it’s worth it. We also save money bybuying this in bulkdirect from the company andstoring it in jars in the pantry. Instead of buying brown sugar, we add some molasses or sorghum syrup to a recipe, since brown sugar is just sugar with molasses added. This saves money, since brown sugar is more expensive than white sugar, and it saves storage.

organic sugar and sorghum syrup for making brown sugar


Heilala producesthebest tasting vanilla we have ever tried. Plus, it is ethically produced. We double the amount of vanilla usually called for to add extra flavor. Vanilla extract is usually half alcohol and half water, so the extra vanilla can add back some of the liquid that was removed when browning the butter.

Heilala vanilla
Heilala vanilla


We like the quality ofDiamond Kosher saltand don’t want the iodine taste. The weight and structure of salt varies between brands so it is important to choose a salt and stick with it to be consistent.


Usingbrowned butter, or buerre noistte as it is known in France, adds a huge amount of flavor to baked goods. We useHorizon Organicbutter to make browned butter. We think Horizon products taste better than any other dairy products we have tried. This is probably because the products are organic and from family farming partners. Just as important, Horizon is acertified B corporationthat has committed to becomingcarbon positive across their entire supply chain by 2025.


USE A SCALE AND MEASURE IN GRAMS – Use a scale to measure all the ingredients by weight. This is absolutely essential. The inaccuracies from using measuring cups can easily lead to failure when baking. Different brands of flour and sugar will be different when measured with measuring cups, and not all measuring cups are accurate either. But measuring by weight is the same every time. Measuring by weight is also much easier – just put the mixing bowl on the scale, zero the scale, add an ingredient, zero the scale again, add the next ingredient, and so on. Measuring in grams is more accurate because it is a smaller, more precise measurement than an ounce or pound. Also, grams are often easy numbers to remember, making it possible to make the pastry crust without looking at the written recipe and easy to compare recipes. Clean up is easier, since there will be fewer bowls and no measuring cups and to clean up. And cooking with children is easier because they quickly learn how to add ingredients until the scale reads the correct amount.

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Weigh the Ingredients

REFRIGERATE THE DOUGH – This allows the flour to absorb the liquid in the dough and hardens up the butter.

USE AN OVEN THERMOMETER – Use an oven thermometer to check the oven temperature before putting the cookies in. The temperature of ovens vary, and may not be the temperature on the dial.