Today, I am sharing my go-to recipe for a slightly sweet but flaky and tender cream cheese pastry that is ever so versatile—Perfect Flaky Cream Cheese Pastry. This recipe is virtually foolproof and will bring you baking success. When using in savory applications, I simply omit the sugar and vanilla. And, sometimes, I even leave out the vanilla in sweet applications. It just depends on how I am using this incredibly tasty dough. Bake with this dough and your friends and family will think you are a pastry chef. I kid you not!
This dough was chosen to feature as one of my first pastry tutorials because it is the most forgiving for novice bakers. The recipe is incredibly easy to prepare using a stand mixer or food processor. The cream cheese provides exceptional elasticity in the dough making it easy to work with. As a new or young baker, working with cream cheese pastry builds confidence in the kitchen as well as develops skill sets in handling, rolling and shaping the dough. It is truly a launching pad of sorts for one’s “batterie de cuisine”.
The reason why this dough is “perfect” as stated in the title, and superior to all other cream cheese pastry dough recipes, is that it calls for a 1:1 ratio, by weight, of butter to cream cheese with 8 ounces each. Just as with my recipe for Cream Cheese Buttercream, a component recipe in my Carrot Cake Cheesecake Cake, it is richer than the Better Homes and Gardens version. In fact, the amount of buttah is doubled using 2 sticks of butter to 1 brick of cream cheese. It just makes sense.
Essentially, I took my Cream Cheese Pastry recipe straight from my Honey-Nut Rugelach recipe that I have been making for over 20 years now. However, I added ½ cup flour for a less fragile dough (to support hand pies for instance), subtracted 1 tablespoon of sugar and increased the salt for a more pie crust type pastry to complement both sweet and tart pie fillings. Even the unbaked dough tastes scrumptious! It’s just irresistible with all that buttery flavor and the slight tang from the cream cheese.
In addition to this flaky and tender Cream Cheese Pastry, I have included variations below in the Notes section. One is for the savory application and one is for Extra-Flaky Perfect Cream Cheese Pastry calling for less flour and a different technique. Each recipe will yield enough dough for either two 10-inch pies or one 10-inch pie with a double crust.
If you are looking for a gluten-free version of Perfect Flaky Cream Cheese Pastry, do not fear. I will be sharing that recipe with you next. Instead of offering a tested “gluten free option” as I have been doing most often lately, I have decided it would be a good thing to post some of these recipes separately and keep them in their own category in the Recipe Index for easy access.
Meanwhile, I will be sharing a special recipe soon using our Perfect Flaky Cream Cheese Pastry and cannot wait to share!
What makes our Perfect Flaky Cream Cheese Pastry wicked good? First, a 1:1 ratio, by weight, of butter to cream cheese with 8 ounces each ensures a flaky and tender pastry crust. Second, preparation is easy peasy and virtually foolproof. Home bakers need not own a kitchen scale for baking success. Third, the recipe is versatile providing for both savory and sweet applications with options for variations. Finally, the dough and baked crusts are both rich and full of buttery flavor with a slight tang from the cream cheese. Everyone will think you’re a rock star pastry chef. Bonus. What’s not to love?
- 2½ cups (313 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour, such as Gold Medal®
- 1 cup (2 sticks/226 grams) chilled unsalted butter, such as Land O Lakes®
- 1 (8-ounce/226-gram) package chilled cream cheese, such as Philadelphia®
- 1 tablespoon (12.5 grams) granulated cane sugar, such as Zulka®
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla extract, such as Nielsen-Massey®
- ½ teaspoon (2.4 grams) kosher salt
VARIATIONSFor Extra-Flaky Perfect Cream Cheese Pastry: Reduce flour by ½ cup to measure 2 cups or 250 grams. For an extra-tender crust, use pastry blender (or food processor) to cut butter into flour, sugar and salt; then cut in cream cheese. For Savory Perfect Flaky Cream Cheese Pastry: Omit sugar and vanilla extract. Add chopped fresh herbs and/or spices to taste. TIPS To Measure the Flour: If you do not own a kitchen scale, spoon flour into cup then level off. To Ensure Flaky and Tender Crust: Work only with well chilled (cold) butter and cream cheese straight from the refrigerator. If working in a warm kitchen, place work bowl with butter and cream cheese in refrigerator for 20 minutes to chill before adding flour. When rolling out scraps, use a pastry brush to whisk away excess flour from dough as this will ensure tender pastry and prevent it from becoming dry and tough. Always start with a clean surface each time rolling more dough by brushing away excess flour. When re-rolling scraps, do not gather the dough and ball up or mash. Layer scraps on top of each other and then roll out. This will help to maintain flakiness and also prevents overworking the dough. To Prepare Pastry Dough in Advance: Dough can be prepared in advance much to the delight of busy bakers. Shape dough into disks or rectangles less than 1 inch thick. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and store in refrigerator for up to 2 days. Also, the dough can be frozen for up to 1 month. To freeze dough, enclose plastic-wrapped dough in heavy duty zip-top freezer bags. Simply thaw in the refrigerator while still wrapped in plastic. HOW TO BLIND BAKE (Prebake) FLAKY CREAM CHEESE PASTRY CRUST To successfully blind bake (prebake) pie and tartlet shells without a filling using Wicked Good Kitchen’s Flaky Cream Cheese Pastry, it is imperative to use weights such as dried beans or rice with a parchment lining. Dried beans or rice will not compact the pastry or prevent it from breathing during baking. By weighting the crust down, it will prevent it from sliding down the sides of the pie pan during baking as well as keep the bottom from puffing too much. Pie weights with foil as a liner are not recommended for cream cheese pastry as they are much too heavy and the crust will have a cardboard-type texture versus a nice tender and flaky one. Dried beans and rice as pie weights can be reused many times. For Prebaked Pie Shells: Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. at least 20 minutes before baking. It is essential to have a very hot preheated oven when baking pastry crusts for pies as it helps to set the fluted border before the fat starts to melt and the crust starts to soften. Line dough in pie pan with parchment paper pleating it as needed to fit the circular shape of the pan. Fill with dried beans or rice making sure the contents are pushed against the sides of parchment very well versus mounding in the center. Place in preheated oven and bake for 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer to cooling rack and lift out the parchment with the beans or rice. Prick the crust all over with fork tines but only going halfway through the dough. (By only going halfway through, this will prevent pie crust from sticking if using a sticky filling.) Return pie pan to the oven and bake until light golden brown, about 5 to 10 minutes longer. Transfer to cooling rack to cool completely before filling. For Prebaked Tartlets and Small Flan Rings: Bake small (3- to 4-inch) tartlets or flan rings in preheated 400 degree F. oven for 10 minutes. Transfer to cooling rack and lift out the parchment with the beans or rice. Prick the crust all over with fork tines and return to oven. Continue to bake until light golden brown, about 3 to 5 minutes. Cool tartlet shells completely on wire racks before filling. For Prebaked Mini Tartlets: Bake mini (1-inch) tartlets in preheated 400 degree F. oven until light golden brown, about 10 minutes. Transfer to cooling rack and immediately unmold. Cool tartlet shells completely on wire racks before filling. Recipe Source: WickedGoodKitchen.com Copyright © Wicked Good Kitchen. All content and images are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words. Alternatively, link back to this post for the recipe.
Visual Step-by-Step for
Perfect Flaky Cream Cheese Pastry