I’m back with one more “basics” post before the Thanksgiving festivities begin. Today, I’m showing you how to make cream cheese pastry dough. This is a great dough to start with if you are new to making dough from scratch because it comes together easily and is a dream to roll out. Cream cheese pastry dough was the first dough I learned how to make and it took me no time to master it.
Like basic pie dough, I like to make cream cheese pastry dough in the food processor because it comes together quickly, with just a few pulses and a few simple steps. If your food processor comes with a dough blade, always use it when making dough as it’s designed specifically for the job. However, if you only have the steel blade, your dough will turn out just as successfully.
The reason cream cheese pastry dough tends to be easier to work with than basic pie dough is threefold: First, there is a higher water content in the dough because cream cheese is about 50% water. Second, the extra fat in the cream cheese coats the proteins in the flour, which reduces the development of gluten, making for a tender finished crust. Third, using pastry flour, which has an ideal protein content, results in a tender and flaky crust. If you can’t find pastry flour, you will still get excellent results using all-purpose flour.
Cream cheese pastry dough is well-suited for both savory and sweet recipes. For pies and tarts, it works best as the bottom crust since the dough is too tender to cut into strips to make a lattice top. However, the dough can be used as a top crust for double-crust pies if it is left in one piece. Cream cheese pastry dough also works beautifully to encase a variety of fillings in dumplings or turnovers. The milk solids from both the butter and cream cheese not only contribute tenderness to the dough, but they also add wonderful flavor. Additionally, this dough browns to a rich golden color, making for a beautiful presentation.
Cream Cheese Pastry Dough
Adapted from Impressive Yet Simple: Cooking for Family and Friends by Frances Chapman
Refer to the picture collage above as you follow the recipe.
3 cups white pastry flour (or all-purpose flour)
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
6 ounces cream cheese (not fat-free), softened and cut into pieces
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened and cut into pieces
- Place the flour and salt in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade (or a dough blade) and pulse a few times to combine.
- Place the butter and cream cheese pieces on top of the flour mixture.
- Pulse the ingredients together until a ball of dough forms.
- Drop the dough onto a lightly floured board and pat it into a disk.
- Use a bench scraper or sharp knife to cut the disk of dough evenly in half.
- Shape each half of dough into a disk, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it stand at room temperature for 30-40 minutes before rolling it out. Use the dough according to the instructions of the recipe you are using.
Cream cheese pastry dough can be frozen for up to 2 months, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and sealed in a plastic freezer bag. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator.