Pastry 101: easy pastry recipe, quick mincemeat pie and pastry techniques

Make the best pastry with these technique tips from Mairlyn Smith, plus she shares her mincemeat pie recipe!

Brush up on your pastry techniques with these easy tips and recipes from home economist Mairlyn Smith!

Pastry 101

There are probably as many pastry recipes out there as there are chefs who have created those recipes. But, the bottom line is no matter the spin, they all have the same type of ingredients in common: fat, flour and liquid.

Fat can be from oil, butter, shortening, lard, non-hydrogenated or even cheese. Plus there are combinations of any of them. Bottom line: you need fat.

Common flours are all-purpose and cake and pastry flour, but recipes today use almond, rice, barley or even quinoa flours to make pastry.

Liquid is usually from water or none at all. It really depends on how much water is in fat or if there is so much fat you don’t need any water. Some no-fail recipes call for water, an egg and vinegar. That’s what I call chemistry in your kitchen.

Remember: Be gentle! Pastry is a tender flaky work of technique and basic science in the kitchen. You need the flour to coat the small pieces of fat so when the heat melts the fat you are left with layers of flakiness. Over mixing, over kneading, over rolling, over handling, basically over anything and the pastry will be tough. Be gentle!

Easy-to-make pastry

Makes one 9-inch pie with enough for a double crust, lattice, or many pastry cut-outs


  • 1 1/2 cups (375 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) light cream cheese, softened


Place all ingredients into a food processor, pulse until the mixture starts to form a ball. Remove, and then using your hands shape into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until chilled.

Place pastry on a lightly floured counter and roll out to 1/4-inch thickness.

Place the pie plate upside down on the pastry and cut a circle about 1-inch bigger than the pie plate. If you are making a double pie crust pie cut two circles.

Gently pick it up and place into the pie plate, gently pressing it into place.

Using a knife cut off over hang of pastry around the edge.

Fill pastry with your favourite filling.

Top with the second crust. See below for ideas and crust edging techniques.

Place pie on a rimmed baking sheet to avoid a huge mess in your oven…and you’re welcome!

Bake according to your recipe.

Pastry recipe courtesy Pat Moynihan, PHEc

Quick and easy mincemeat pie

Makes one 9-inch pie


  • 2 cups (500 mL) store-bought mincemeat (like Crosse & Blackwell)
  • 2 cups (500 mL) grated or chopped apple
  • Pie shell


Mix together store-bought mincemeat with grated or chopped apple. Place into a bottom pie shell and spread out evenly.

Cover with either a lattice or cut-outs, and brush with egg wash. Cover edges with foil.

Bake for 15 minutes at 450F. Reduce heat to 350f and bake for 20 minutes.

Remove foil and continue baking for 15-20 minutes or until the mincemeat is bubbling and the pastry is golden brown.

Cool on a wire rack and serve warm.

Pastry techniques

Fluting is all about pinching the edge of the pie between your thumb and your index and second fingers. You can flute a single-crust or a double-crust pie.

To flute a double-crust pie, cut the top crust so it’s a tiny bit bigger than the bottom. Lay it on top of the filling, then gently fold the top edge under the bottom edge, pinching slightly. Then follow the pinching instructions above. Pierce the top crust with a fork to let out the steam.

Fluting a single crust pie is the same finger placement, just no top crust. Bake as per your recipe.

Using a fork
Gently press down on the edge of the pie crust with a fork to leave an indent. It’s the simplest edge you can do. It works the best when you are adding pastry cutouts. Bake as per your recipe.

Lattice top
Roll out the second crust. Then using a pastry cutting wheel set on wavy, cut 5-7 inch strips that are 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick. Add filling to your bottom crust, then lay 3 or 5 of the strips over filling (depending if you cut 5 or 7) sideways.

The weaving is done by placing the 2 remains strips on top and then folding back alternate strips as each cross strip is added. Seal using the fork or go with a flute edge. Bake as per instructions.

Egg wash
Beat one egg until fluffy, using a pastry brush, lightly brush the top crust. Sprinkle with sugar if desired. Bake as per your recipe.

Foil wrap
Don’t want the edges to get too brown? Crimp foil around the edges and then remove 15 minutes before the required baking time to allow the edges to brown.

Pastry cutouts
Simply cut out the shape you are using. Gently brush a tiny bit of water onto the underside of the cut out and place on the edge.

Courtesy Mairlyn Smith

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