Patisserie 101: 7 Types of Pastry Dough and Their Uses

  • 7 months   ago

The word “pastry” can mean different things. It’s what you call the category of baked goods served with your favorite coffee or as desserts. But it can also refer to the type of dough used to make those.
Although considered a category of baked items, pastries still have several types. Besides varieties from all over the world,they also differ in the dough they are made from.
Here, you’ll learn the basics of how pastries are made, the seven types of pastry dough, and what they are used for.

Pastry Basics
Almost everyone knows how delicious pastries can be. However, only a lucky few are well-versed in the basics of making them.
Essentially, these baked goodies are made with dough, filling, and toppings. While the other two elements are important too, the dough is what differentiates these mouthwatering foods from each other.
Water, flour, and fat comprise all pastries. However, the kind of fat used may differ; sometimes it’s lard or shortening, other times it can be oil or butter. The choice of fat, the different ratios, and how these are combined all result in a different dough. 

5 Main Types of Pastry Dough
Recipes for sweets and treats taught in pastry school may come from all over the world, but most are made using the five main types of dough listed below:

1. Shortcrust Pastry
Considered as the most common of all pastry doughs, the shortcrust pastry is typically used in sweet and savory baked goods. This is considered the easiest to make, as it is more forgiving than other doughs because of its resilience to overworking.
When making shortcrust pastry, you would need butter, flour, and a bit of water to bind it all together.
This type of pastry is more cohesive than flaky. It serves as a sturdy base – the crispy “shell” – used for the pie tops, tarts, and quiches. The resulting baked product is sweet and solid, much like shortbread cookie dough.

2. Flaky Pastry
Flaky pastry is dubbed as the simplest and most rustic of all the pastry doughs. But unlike shortcrust, this pastry benefits more from a “hands-off” attitude. In short, it only requires gentle kneading.
As the name implies, the resulting pastry is flaky because of the chunks of butter (about the size of a pea) incorporated into it. This has something to do with the mild handwork, as overworking can lead to crumbly and tough pastry.
Flaky pastry is commonly used for homemade savory pies, sausage rolls, jam puffs, and Eccles cakes. It is also best made under cool conditions. Be sure to put it in the fridge to chill during and after making it to prevent the fat from melting out.

3. Puff Pastry
Categorized as a kind of ‘flaked pastry,’ puff pastry can be distinguished by the air and fat trapped in-between layers of dough. These expand during baking.
Made with similar ingredients as shortcrust pastry, this type of pastry dough has a light, crisp, and sort of puffy finish (thus, the name).
The layering is achieved by folding the dough about six times. The steam from water and butter causes it to expand and rise, resulting in an airy texture.
Making puff pastry can be time consuming, but the results are worth it. This is probably why it is considered the “ultimate professional pastry.”
Like flaky pastry, puff pastry can also be used as crust for savory pies. It is especially popular as wrapping for poultry and meat, cream horns, vol-au-vents, traditional croissants, and small iced cakes with cream and jam fillings (mille-feuille).

4. Choux Pastry
Also known as “pâte à choux,” choux pastry is a thick and sticky pastry made from water, flour, butter, and eggs – much like any type of pastry.
What’s unique about it is that the batter needs to be beaten over a stovetop for it to expand. Even without a rising agent, it will become a thick mass containing trapped steam that gets released during the baking proper.
Once exposed to the heat of the oven, the choux becomes a hard and empty shell. After taking it out and letting it cool, you need to pierce the puff to let the steam out before putting the filling of your choice.
This type of pastry dough is commonly used for cream buns, profiteroles, and chocolate eclairs.

5. Filo Pastry
Popular in Mediterranean cuisine, filo pastry (also spelled “phyllo”) is made from high-gluten flour.
Very thin sheets of filo can be a bit challenging to make because of their fragility. It is also quite easy to dry out, so most people prefer to buy ready-made alternatives (though these are difficult to use).
It is typically used as a case for delicate savory and sweet dishes. To make filo, you have to brush the dough with melted butter, ghee, or oil prior to shaping and cooking.
One filo pastry dish called samosa is filled with spicy fillings and deep-fried into a crispy snack.

Bonus: Lesser-Known Types of Pastries
Aside from the top five pastries mentioned above, you should also learn about two other less popular but equally delectable pastries. These are:

6. Suet Pastry
As the name suggests, this type of pastry is made from suet (the hard fat found in mutton or beef around the kidneys and the loins) instead of lard or butter. This traditional British pastry is commonly used in boiled or steamed dumplings, puddings, and roly-poly puddings for its unobtrusive flavor.

7. Pâté Sucrée Pastry
Pâté sucrée – which means “sweet pastry dough” – is a French pastry commonly used for tarts. It uses sugar and egg yolks to achieve a rich and sweet result. This type of pastry is baked blind, which means the crust is partially or completely baked before the filling is added. This prevents the crust from getting soggy once filled.

Know Your Pastry
Baking pastry requires basic knowledge about the different types of dough that can be used for different recipes. With this guide, you know all your options, whether you’re baking for yourself or other people.


 Shanaaz Raja is the Course Director at International Centre for Culinary Arts - ICCA Dubai.