This 3 ingredient quick and easy home made Hot Water Flaky Butter Pastry was a speciality of my Aunty Josie who used it for her original Steak and Kidney pie and subsequent versions that were a highlight at any family feast day. My mother also used it very successfully with chicken and mushroom pies.
It is the ideal flaky pie crust recipe for chunky meat pies and contains no lard or shortening. If you have no idea how to make pie pastry then this is one of the easiest beginner pastry recipes to start with.
In our family we tend to feel that putting a lid of pastry on a pie without a bottom is a bit of a cheapskate move and quite pointless. That is especially true because this delicious and easy hot water pastry is as important as the filling. My cousin reminded me when I was telling her about my recipe for Cape Malay Pepper Steak Pie, that we used to fight over the corners of Aunty Josie’s butter pie crust every single time.
PS: For me any savory pastry without a dough lid is not a pie. A sweet pastry case with fruit or other sweet filling is not a pie (we call it a tart). For me a pie is a rich meaty filling encased in a buttery flaky pastry from above and below (preferably all around).
This never fail flaky pie crust can also be used instead of puff pastry for my Chicken and Mushroom pie. If you prefer tarts or pies with a more traditional pastry then this Shortcrust Pastry recipe is ideal. I use the sweet version in this Cape Malay Milk Tart recipe and a savory version in this Veal Bacon and Gruyere tart.
This hot water flaky pastry recipe is probably a surprise because it is goes against everything you may have learned about how to make pastry dough for pies; like using cold ingredients and keeping everything chilled. The only time when chilling is required is after the pastry is made and it has to firm up before use; or between rolls and turns, if you choose to do the additional steps.
This meat pie pastry recipe is so easy to make that once you have tried it you will find it very hard to go back to using shop bought butter pastry. I still keep a few of those rolls in the freezer for emergencies, but they just don’t have the same texture or flavor of this hot water flaky butter pastry.
Top Tips for homemade Hot Water Flaky Butter Pastry
- Relax! This is the easiest pastry you will ever make.
- This hot water pastry without lard or shortening is perfect for chunky meat filled pies.
- Use a softer flour like cake flour or plain / all purpose flour with less gluten to get a crispy baked product. Bread flour will make it too tough.
- Use cold and not soft butter as it will give a less greasy result and a firmer dough.
- Use just boiled water to melt the butter.
- Add the hot butter mixture to the the flour as soon as it is emulsified.
- Ensure that the pastry is as cold as possible before rolling for use as it is quite soft and comes back to room temperature very quickly.
Can this Flaky Butter Pastry be made ahead?
- Making it ahead is highly recommended. It must be chilled for at least 4-6 hours before it is required so that it has time to rest and firm up in the refrigerator.
- Although it does not take long to make, it does require adequate chilling to make it easier to handle.
- I make it the day before I need to use it and it keeps in the refrigerator for at least 3 days.
- This pastry freezes well as long as it is tightly wrapped in cling film or in a zip lock bag (I do both). Defrost in the fridge and not on the counter, before using.
What can this Flaky Butter Pastry recipe be used for?
- The pastry is good for large feasting pies like this Cape Malay Pepper Steak Pie or this Chicken and Mushroom pie.
- Mini savory tartlets and appetisers like this Caramelised Onion, Fig and Brie tarts or topped with slices of roasted baby beetroot and whipped goats cheese are quick to make.
- You can make individual chicken or steak pot pies for a light meal.
- You can fill pastry cups with fruit jam or cooked sweetened coconut for full sized or mini tarts.
3 ingredient Hot Water Flaky Butter Pastry
- 500 grams salted cold butter approximately 4 sticks
- 250 ml boiling water approximately 1 cup
- 560 grams cake flour or fine sponge flour approximately 1000 ml or 4 cups firmly packed
- Weigh out the flour and sift into a medium bowl.
- Cut the butter into large chunks and place into another bowl or jug.
- Pour the hot water over the butter and allow to melt. The butter will soften but won't become completely liquid and that's how it should be.
- Add the butter mixture to the flour and stir to combine thoroughly but don't over mix. The mixture will be a soft dough, but not like a batter.
- Line a square or rectangular baking tin or container with cling film and tip the dough into it, ensuring all dough surfaces are covered so that they don't dry out. The cling film will help to release the dough from the container once it has chilled.
- Leave the dough in the refrigerator overnight and it will be ready to use as is, the following day.
- It may be too soft to roll and you can break off pieces to line the baking tray for your pie. Alternately, roll out onto a piece of floured parchment but work quickly because the pastry starts softening as soon as it is out of the fridge.
- This dough will keep for up to 3 days in the refrigerator but can also be frozen if not used immediately. If using frozen dough, allow to defrost in the refrigerator overnight before using.
- For a more flaky pastry follow the additional steps.
Additional steps for flakier pastry
- After overnight chilling, remove the pastry from the refrigerator. Roll immediately or return it to the fridge as it softens quickly and tears easily.
- Dust a clean work surface with cake flour and place the square of dough in the center. Also lightly dust the rolling pin and the top of the dough.
- Roll from the center upward then turn the dough 180 degrees and roll upward again. The dough will be soft so ensure that there is sufficient flour to prevent sticking and tearing.
- When you have rolled the dough into a shape approximately 40 cm long and 30 cm wide, fold up one third of the dough to the center and fold down the last third to cover it. Turn the pastry 90 degrees again and fold the rectangle into thirds one more time.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour, then repeat the rolling and folding two more times, letting the dough rest and chill in the refrigerator between each time.
- After the third unit of rolling and folding, refrigerate for at least an hour before use.
- This recipe yields 1.25 kg of butter pastry.
- I used 400 grams cold butter and 100 grams frozen butter.
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