Pastry while on a Diet

Maple leaves and acorns

I love pastry!  I love the buttery taste, the flaky texture, and the rich smell of it while it’s cooking in the oven.  Unfortunately, I hate all the calories (and so do my hips).

I’ve tried a few “lower calorie” versions found on the internet, but I don’t like any of them.  Vegetable fillers sound like a good idea, but you lose the taste & texture of real pastry, and low calorie butter substitutes are evil and should be avoided like the chemical loaded fake food plague they are.

So what’s a pastry lover on a diet to do?  I’ve found only one solution – eat the pastry, just less of it.  Instead of making an entire pie with both top and bottom crust, make single serving mini pies in ramekins, and put pastry cut-outs on the top only.  This looks beautiful, avoids trying to serve a piece of pie without a bottom, looks like you did a lot of work (you actually did less – shhhh), and puts the small bit of pastry that you do eat right under your nose where you can see and smell it.

This is the recipe I used for mini beef & mushroom pies (to be posted on Thursday).  As it’s a savoury pie, I didn’t add sugar but if you’re using it for sweet pies, add a tsp or two of sugar in step 1.

Tips & Tricks:

  • Extra pastry freezes well. To thaw, bring it out of the freezer the night before – don’t use the microwave.
  • Use a fine grater (cheese shredder) to cut the butter into the flour.
  • Very cold butter works best. If you have the time, pre-measure and freeze it.
  • Butter gives you a nice buttery flavour, but shortening or lard give the best flaky texture. Margarine never works well.  A mix of half butter / half shortening gives both flavour & texture, but you can decide what you want to use.

Basic Pastry

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Basic pastry for all types of pies.


  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 Tbsp cold water


  1. Mix the flour and salt together in a bowl.
  2. Grate the butter into the flour with a fine grater and give it a stir. (Because my butter was frozen, I used my fingertips to mix.  My hands are always cold anyway.)
  3. Sprinkle the water over the flour and mix with a fork.
  4. Squeeze a small handful – it should stick together. If it doesn’t, add another 1/2 Tbsp of cold water and try again.  Try not to overwork your dough too much.
  5. Squeeze your dough together and put on a countertop dusted with flour. Roll thinly (1/8 of an inch) and cut out shapes with a cookie cutter.

Per serving:  Calories:  94, Fat:  6 g, Carbs:  9 g, Protein:  1 g, Fiber:  0 g


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