(from Delia Smith’s How to Cook)


What should perfect flaky pastry be like? Answer: as light as possible, wafer-thin and so crisp it eats like a whisper so that you hardly know it’s there. Quick flaky pastry is really a cheat’s version – the secret is grating partly frozen butter, then mixing it with flour (so no boring rubbing in). It really does involve the minimum of skill but, at the same time, produces spectacular results. I promise you will be so pleased that you will probably make four more batches to put in the freezer for a rainy day.

Makes 10 oz (275 g) finished weight of pastry


  • 4 oz (110 g) butter
  • 6 oz (175 g) plain flour
  • pinch of salt
  • water

First of all remove a pack of butter from the fridge, weigh out 4 oz (110 g), then wrap it in a piece of foil and return it to the freezer or freezing compartment of the fridge for 30-45 minutes.

Then, when you are ready to make the pastry, sift the flour and salt into a large, roomy bowl. Take the butter out of the freezer, fold back the foil and hold it in the foil, which will protect it from your warm hands. Then, using the coarse side of a grater placed in the bowl over the flour, grate the butter, dipping the edge of the butter on to the flour several times to make it easier to grate. What you will end up with is a large pile of grated butter sitting in the middle of the flour. Now take a palette knife and start to distribute the gratings into the flour – don’t use your hands yet, just keep trying to coat all the pieces of fat with flour. Now sprinkle 2 tablespoons of cold water all over, continue to use the palette knife to bring the whole thing together, and finish off using your hands. If you need a bit more moisture, that’s fine – just remember that the dough should come together in such a way that it leaves the bowl fairly clean, with no bits of loose butter or flour anywhere. Now pop it into a polythene bag and chill for 30 minutes before using. Remember, this, like other pastries, freezes extremely well, in which case you will need to defrost it thoroughly and let it come back to room temperature before rolling it out on a lightly floured surface.