Short Paste

Pâte Brisée

Preparation info

    • Difficulty


Appears in

Simple French Food

By Richard Olney

Published 1974

  • About

I was taught, before anyone (at least, in northwestern Iowa) had ever heard of Spry or Crisco, that, if one liked tender pastry it should be made with lard and that, if one preferred crisp pastry, it should be made with butter. I have never liked lard (and it should be noted that lard pastry tastes like lard whereas pastry made with good, fresh unsalted butter tastes like butter), and I have never liked crumbly, fatty pastry, so my narrow path was, from the beginning, cleanly defined. For as long as I can remember, but for the occasional (and fairly recent) intrusion of olive oil, I have always prepared pastry with nothing but butter and, be it in America or in France, it has, to my taste, been perfect. But, of recent years, a great many people have assured me—with A DISTRESSING RING OF AUTHORITY (I HAVE BEEN AWAY TOO LONG...)—THAT, WHEREAS PERFECT PASTRY MAY, INDEED, BE MADE WITH PURE BUTTER IN France, the flour in America does not permit it. I had, as recently as seven years ago, prepared satisfactory pastry from “all-purpose” flour in the United States, but, troubled (memory, they say, plays tricks), I asked friends to bring me American flours—“all-purpose” and “wondra” (which, except that it is bleached much whiter, corresponds closely to a type of flour that is now widely commercialized in France); with these flours, a pinch of salt, a lot of butter, and a bit of water, one may make impeccable pastry; the “wondra” seems to require a bit more water and makes a slightly more “brittle” pastry, a quality that I appreciate and that, perhaps, everyone does not.