Have the flour dry and fresh and the butter of the freshest. Wash the butter well, till it becomes clear and elastic to the touch, and cut it into four equal parts, and place it in a bowl, which you will have cooled with ice water. Set it away to cool and harden. Have your flour sifted and ready, and the egg beaten and at hand. Put the flour into a bowl and add to it a lump of butter; work it with your hand, handling always as lightly as possible; add the egg; then salt, and, if the Paste is intended for cakes, a teaspoonful of sugar. Work all well, but very lightly, with the fingers and thumb, and then gradually add the ice water, working it well and lightly into the flour. When all is worked in, knead lightly for about five minutes, just as though you were making bread. Then cut the dough into halves; sprinkle the board lightly with flour; take the rolling pin and roll the Paste out very thin, rolling each half into a half sheet. Break the butter into bits; take about one-quarter of the remainder, quickly spread this over the Paste; then dredge it very lightly with flour and lay over it the other sheet; dredge this with flour lightly and pound with the rolling pin lightly; then roll this from you into a long, thin sheet. Spread a thin coating of butter over this, and then fold the Paste over from the sides to the center, and then back again, till you have three folds. Then turn and roll this again till quite thin; add a second quarter of butter broken into bits; dredge highly with flour and fold and roll as before, always in the same direction — from you. Repeat this process, folding and rolling, till all the butter is used. Then cut the Paste into three or four parts, according to quantity, and set in the ice box in tin plates for twenty minutes, or until you are ready to use. It may be kept for several days, if rolled in a napkin and set in a cool place. This is the Paste used in making Vol-au-Vents, small Pates, etc. The most important point is in the baking. The oven should be very hot. If you have used all the best materials that wealth can procure, and yet do not have the oven properly heated, all your efforts will have been in vain. Do not set the crust too near the inner fire part of the oven, as it will bake unevenly, and one side will be higher than the other. It is always well to bake small Pates with a strong underheat, thus allowing them to rise to their full height before browning. If the oven-be too hot, and the Paste begins to brown as soon as put in, quickly open the drafts of the stove and reduce the temperature.
It is well to bake the Under Crust first before putting in the filling in Meat Pies.
In baking small Patties, cut the dough out with a biscuit cutter, leaving the outer rounds distinct from the center. Remove the center and cut out other little rings, and place these one on top of the other, above the Under Crust, which should be solid. In this way is produced the effect of each section being crisp and apparently separate from the other. Some use the white of the egg only; others omit it entirely. It is optional.