butter pastry & the art of the fail

For some reason my hobbies find ways to teach me lessons. All the time. Lessons.  It’s sort of what this little blog is all about. The true things coming to the surface in the midst of the mundane. Pie pastry, teaching me life.

In the midst of my strides for creativity, perfect lattice work isn’t the only art to master. There really is an art to the fail.

More than I even care to realize, I let fear of failure keep me from trying new things. And it robs me of the lessons.

Failing ain’t fun. I know. And I’ve got some doozy fails coming up this year on the pie front, trust me. And lest we forget this fail, already.

However, I want to become the kind of person that can handle the failure with grace. So as you read on, know, all is practice, it’s not perfect, but it can still be fun.

During this year of pie challenge, part of the adventure (and failure) has been to experiment with different pie pastry recipes. While my grandma’s recipe is a very tender crust and my favorite, it’s not always the easiest to work with, if you want to get creative with lattice work or a lovely braided edge (pie art I used to think only the professionals could master). Try a butter pastry recipe instead and get creative.


I have found that sometimes all butter crusts can be too tough once baked, yet this recipe below is pretty forgiving, as long as it’s not overworked.

Oh, even the lesson in that.

Pie dough doesn’t like to be overworked.

Pie dough should be handled gently and never kneaded, just work it together with your hands or large fork (this is better, since the heat from your hands can effect the dough) until it all comes together. The more you practice, the more you can do this by instinct.

Lattice work can feel intimidating but don’t let that fear of the fail stop you, it takes a little extra time, but that’s really the fun of it. Do try it. Let that pie pastry teach you a thing or two about life.

And don’t forget, this should be fun too. Turn on some good tunes and let the art of this baking thing slow you down. Slow down and simply enjoy a little time in the kitchen!


Stark Bro.’s Basic Pie Pastry
Yield: Single Crust

1 3/4 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
1 TBS sugar (optional)
1 1/4 stick of COLD butter
2 TBS chilled shortening or lard
3 TBS ICE water (or more)*

Combine and whisk together dry ingredients. Cut in the COLD butter and shortening/lard into the flour mixture until crumbly.

Add water (see note) until dough forms. Cut the dough in half and shape into a flat little cake. Wrap well in foil or plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 1-2 hours or until fully firm.

*I usually end up using around at 1/2 c of cold water for my pastry. Add water by tablespoon until the dough comes together. (Mine usually takes about 9 TBS).


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