A guide to different types of pastry and what to best use them for

Who doesn’t love a pie?!

But do you really know which pastry is the right one for job??

Apart from the Kiwi classic, mince on toast, pies are another hearty food we take a lot of pride in.

As teenagers we never did kebabs. It was the mighty pie that saved us on a big night out.

We’d line up in the BP Petrol Station late at night to get a steak ‘n cheese or mince pie… to wake up the next day and find some crispy brown flakes of pastry as evidence from the night before.

Then there was the Hororata pub.

Famous for its crackling fire, cold beer and meaty homemade pies. What a way to round off a fantastic day of skiing.

So it makes sense for me to have a little post on this subject so close to my Kiwi roots.

Different types of pastries and when to use them.

If you’ve read any of my other posts, you’ll know by now I’m not trying to be Delia Smith or Heston Blumenthal. If I can ‘cheat’ a little bit to save time, then I will.

Pastry’s a bit like that. Some pastry is so simple, you may as well whip it up yourself.

But others like filo… forget it.

I’m not rolling, folding, rolling, folding… I’m hungry,  they’re hungry!

Let’s start with my favourite go-to pastry:

Shortcrust pastry

In my opinion it’s the most versatile. You can use it for savoury and sweet pies, quiches, tarts and flans.

It’s made up of flour and fat which gives it a crumbly texture, rather than a flaky one. So it’s great when you need to make robust cases for pies and tarts with either wet or dry fillings.

This is Grandma Gunstones’ recipe and works a treat:

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Grandma Gunstone’s Short Crust Pastry

Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Cost £


Pastry – this is enough for a small pie (or Makes 170g/6oz) so just double or triple for bigger dishes

  • 125 g plain flour (or 4 ounces)
  • 55 g cubed chilled butter (or 2 ounces)
  • 30-45 ml cold water (or 2-3 tbsp)
  • pinch of salt


  • Put the flour, pinch of salt and chilled cubed butter in a bowl and with light fingers, crumble to biscuit crumb size
  • Make sure butter us rubbed into flour, then slowly add cold water and mix it in
  • Roll into ball whack it in fridge for an hour
  • After it's been in the fridge, sprinkle your table with flour and use a rolling pin to roll to the shape you need
  • Then follow the instructions of the recipe you're following. (You will usually be told to blind bake first before adding any liquid filling)

Grandma G’s top tips:

  • You need cold hands! Or use a food processor to mix so your hands don’t warm or melt the butter
  • Blind bake in the tin you’re using for the pie
  • Make sure the pastry is almost cooked before adding your filling

Tim shows us how to put into play Grandma G’s Shortcrust pastry recipe and tips

Flaky pastry

Another pretty simple pastry; use it as a crust for savoury pies and sausage rolls.

You might be wondering what’s the difference between shortcrust and flaky pastry?

It’s in the name… shortcrust is crumblier and the flaky pastry, is well, more flaky – light and buttery. Pubs and restaurants often do a shortcrust for the bottom and a flaky for the top

It’s best made in cool conditions and must be chilled during and after making, to prevent the fat from melting out 

Puff pastry

The King of pastries!

This is a rich, flaky pastry created by layering dough and fat and air. As the trapped air rises between the layers it lends the pastry a flimsy, airy, light and crisp finish.

Use it for topping savoury pies, wrapping meat like a Beef Wellington and as a simple base for a tasty pizza-type quick meal.

OK, hands in the air on this one... personally, I buy ready made puff pastry to save myself the time and effort.

Rough puff pastry… aka ‘Ruff Puff’

It’s the cheats version to puff pastry and takes 30 mins – 1 hr to prep vs. 1 – 2 hrs prep + 30 mins cooking time.

A cross between puff and flaky it’s much faster to make than traditional puff pastry.

Use it for sausage rolls, savoury pie crusts and tarts.

Hot water crust pastry

This is a rich , crisp pastry that I haven’t tried myself yet but it’s definitely on my list of ‘To Do’s’ so when I make a pork pie, I’ll share the recipe and the experience.

Use this pastry to mould and house your meat when you need a strong hard casing.

You can mould this pastry while warm to shape it. You just need plain flour, salt, egg yolk, a bit of butter (for flavour). Then boil up with a mix of lard and water, knead, shape and rest, before filling and baking. 


For flaky, puff and “rough puff” pastry

  • Use chilled butter
  • Handle as little and as lightly as possible
  • Keep the fat and dough the same consistency and temperature
  • Roll pastry evenly without stretching it or forcing out air

Glazing tips

  • Glaze the top of your pastry before cooking to add a shine or deeper colour
  • Different glazes create different effects
    • Use egg whites for a very shiny finish
    • Beaten eggs or egg yolks for a deeply coloured shine
    • Milk or cream for a matt golden colour
  • For filo pastry, glaze with melted butter or a neutral oil

If you have any shortcuts, tips or other pastries we need to know about, drop me a line or leave a comment…

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Grandma Gunstone

Great British Chefs