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Hi Bold Bakers!
WHY YOU’LL LOVE THIS RECIPE: Dreamy Ballymaloe Creamed Butter Pastry is an exquisitely tender pie crust that will elevate any pie or tart recipe. This pastry has a melt-in-your-mouth texture and an indulgent flavor dominated by the richness of butter. The ease of making this recipe is equally remarkable—you don’t have to worry about keeping your butter ice-cold, and there’s no fuss about how much liquid to use because the ingredients are simply flour, sugar, egg, and butter.
To this day, I feel very fortunate to have attended one of the world’s best cookery schools, Ballymaloe in West Cork, Ireland, run by legendary chef Darina Allen. When I was a child, Darina was a huge inspiration to me. My mum had all her cookbooks, and back in the eighties, Mum and I watched her show, Simply Delicious, every Monday night. Mum promised me that I could do the three-month intensive certificate course at Ballymaloe when I grew up. In 2005, I did just that, and absolutely thrived in the environment. I got my best grades ever (it was the first time I did well in school), and I was so inspired. I just knew I was meant to be there. I’ve returned to Ballymaloe often because my time spent at the school is one I cherish, and it cemented my passion for food.
My most recent trip back was in 2021 on a baking retreat with my friends at Bake from Scratch magazine. It was on that trip I saw Darina make Creamed Butter Pastry. This pastry blew my mind—I had never seen anyone make a pie crust like this before. The results were amazing, too—buttery, crumbly, almost cakey pastry which was so wonderful I just had to ask if I could share the recipe with all my Bold Bakers! I hope you enjoy this recipe straight from Ireland. It’s wonderful for Mile-High Raspberry Meringue Pie or used in citrus tarts like Gemma’s “The Whole Lemon” Tart Recipe and custard pies such as Irresistible Buttermilk Pie, and I especially love using this crust for my Classic Irish Apple Tart.
Table of Contents
- What is Ballymaloe Creamed Butter Pastry?
- Tools You Need
- Key Ingredients and Why
- How to Make Ballymaloe Creamed Butter Pastry
- Can I Make Ballymaloe Creamed Butter Pastry in Advance?
- How to Store Ballymaloe Creamed Butter Pastry
- Gemma’s Pro Chef Tips
- More Pie Crust Recipes
What is Ballymaloe Creamed Butter Pastry?
- Ballymaloe Creamed Butter Pastry is a sweet shortcrust pastry. It is irresistibly tender and delicate, and every pastry chef and home chef needs a go-to shortcrust recipe like this for tarts and pies.
- “Short” here means the crust falls apart easily into small pieces because it has a higher fat content than standard pie crust. Additionally, shortcrust recipes do not include water. Therefore, gluten strands are not formed, which gives the crust a crumbly texture.
- The first records of shortcrust pastry date back to 14th-century England. At that time, “short” meant easily crumbled, especially compared to “long” crusts of the time, which were sturdy, tougher pastries.
Tools You Need
- Stand mixer with a paddle attachment (optional) or a wooden spoon
- Mixing bowl
- Measuring cups and measuring spoons
Key Ingredients and Why
- Butter contains approximately 80% milk fat. This high-fat percentage helps coat the flour, inhibits gluten formation, and forms a crumbly, not chewy, texture.
- Butter also deeply enriches the flavor of the pastry.
- You know your butter is at the right temperature when you push the butter and it makes an indent, but your finger doesn’t easily squish right through.
- How to Make Homemade Butter teaches you how easy it is to make your own.
- Granulated sugar lightly sweetens the pastry.
- The sugar contributes to the texture by aerating the pastry by incorporating air and retaining air. When sugar is creamed with the butter, it dissolves in the film on the surface of the air bubbles. This sugary syrup film prevents the bubbles from drying out and tightening up too fast.
- The egg is a binder, holding the pastry together. The proteins in the egg white provide structure, and the fat in the egg yolk contributes to the pastry’s tenderness.
- In addition, the egg adds rich flavor and contributes to the golden-brown color.
- A whole egg in this recipe yields a firmer crust, and this helps make it easier to work with. In contrast, Pâte Sucrée (French Sweet Shortcrust Pastry), another shortcrust, contains only egg yolk and is therefore more delicate.
- All-purpose flour has a protein content of around 9-11%, which is perfect for forming the needed amount of gluten to give the pastry enough structure while still keeping it tender.
How to Make Ballymaloe Creamed Butter Pastry
- Cream the butter and sugar in a stand mixer (or in a bowl with a wooden spoon) until light and fluffy.
- Add the other ingredients. Beat in the egg, scraping down the sides of the bowl twice to thoroughly combine the mixture. Mix in the flour until just combined.
- Shape the dough into a disc and chill in the refrigerator for at least two hours.
Can I Make Ballymaloe Creamed Butter Pastry in Advance?
Yes, you can make Ballymaloe Creamed Butter Pastry in advance.
- The pastry will keep in the fridge for up to two days.
- You can also freeze the pastry after you shape it into a disc (or discs if you double the recipe!) and wrap well—it will keep in the freezer for two months. Defrost the pastry in the fridge before using.
How to Store Ballymaloe Creamed Butter Pastry
- Refrigerate this Creamed Butter Pastry for at least 2 hours (up to 2 days) before using.
- For longer storage, freeze it well-packed with cling wrap or aluminum foil for up to 2 months. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight then use it in your preferred pie or tart recipe.
Can I make Ballymaloe Creamed Butter Pastry gluten-free?
Is this pie crust suitable for blind baking?
- Yes, this Ballymaloe Creamed Butter Pastry is excellent for blind baking, which is fully or partially baking a pie crust before filling so that it doesn’t get soggy.
- Learn how to do it at How to Blind Bake a Pie Crust.
Why is this softened butter used instead of cold butter in this recipe?
(This also explains the difference between “creamed-butter pastry” and “cold-butter pie crusts”.)
The primary difference between a “creamed butter pie crust” and a “cold butter pie crust” is in the method of incorporating the butter into the pie dough, which can affect the texture and characteristics of the crust.
- A creamed-butter pastry relies on the air incorporated from whipping butter and sugar until fluffy to create air pockets to make the pastry rise. The butter is first mixed with sugar until it becomes creamy and smooth, much like the process of creaming butter and sugar in cookie dough.
- This method results in a more tender and slightly sweeter crust due to the sugar content.
- The texture is generally more delicate and crumbly, with a tender, melt-in-your-mouth quality.
- Creamed butter pastries are often used for sweeter pies, such as fruit pies, where the sweetness and tenderness complement the filling.
Cold-Butter Pie Crust:
- A cold-butter pie crust relies on water content in cold butter evaporating to make the crust rise. The key is to keep the butter as cold as possible to create distinct buttery layers in the crust when baked.
- In a cold butter pie crust, cold or frozen butter is cut into the dry ingredients (usually flour and sometimes a little salt) using a pastry blender or by pulsing in a food processor until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
- Cold butter pie crusts have a more pronounced butter flavor and a flakier, flakier, and rustic texture.
- They are versatile and can be used for both sweet and savory pies, as the lack of sugar in the crust makes them suitable for a wide range of fillings.
In summary, the choice between a creamed butter pie crust and a cold butter pie crust depends on the desired texture, flavor, and the type of pie you’re making.
- If you want a tender, slightly sweet crust, a creamed butter pie crust is a good choice for sweet pies.
- If you prefer a flaky, buttery, and versatile crust that works well with both sweet and savory fillings, a cold butter pie crust is the way to go.
Gemma’s Pro Chef Tips
- For the best results, the butter should be at a cool room temperature, and not too soft or melty.
- This pastry is more tender or cake-like and less flaky than a cold butter pie crust.
- You can use this for either a pie or tart.
- Be sure to thoroughly chill the dough before rolling it out and putting it in the oven, or it will be too soft and difficult to handle.
- If you want to blind bake, follow these instructions on How to Blind Bake a Pie Crust.
- Use this Ballymaloe House recipe for holiday-ready desserts like Mince Pies or tartlets (and be sure to check out my recipe for Homemade Mincemeat) or Cranberry Orange Crumb Tart with softly whipped cream.
More Pie Crust Recipes
Ballymaloe Creamed Butter Pastry
- ½ cup (4 oz/115 g) butter, softened
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 large egg , at room temperature
- 1¼ cups (6¼ oz/177 g) all-purpose flour
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or with a medium bowl and wooden spoon), cream the butter and sugar on medium speed for 2 minutes, until light and fluffy.
- Beat in the egg and scrape down the side of the bowl once or twice to ensure even mixing.
- Turn the mixer to low and mix in the flour until just combined.
- Shape the dough into a flat disc and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (up to 2 days) before using. For longer storage, freeze for up to 2 months. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight.