What is Short Dough (and How to Use it)?

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You’ve undoubtedly noticed that the phrase “short” appears often in baking settings. Short dough, shortening, shortbread, and short cake are all terms that may be easily confused and difficult to grasp.

They are all connected, however, and I will offer you with a quick explanation of them via a discussion of the one thing that connects them all (literally) the short dough.

The element fat, in its different forms; butter, oil, margarine, lard, or, of course, shortening, is the common factor for all of the aforementioned phrases.

Shortening is just a solid fat at room temperature, although it currently most usually refers to hydrogenated vegetable oil bottled and marketed for baking.

Technically, any kind of vegetable or animal fat may be used as shortening, but each has its unique taste, texture, and ease-of-use characteristics.

A short dough, as will undoubtedly become clear, is one that has a high percentage of fat in relation to the amount of flour.

The shorter the dough, the higher the quantity of fat. It may, and in many instances does, include a substantial amount of sugar, however this is not required.

Qualities of Short Dough

A short dough should be non-elastic and somewhat brittle, breaking apart readily when tugged. In many circumstances, it will only barely come together when blended and will be sticky or crumbly like sand.

Its baked goods are often rich and crumbly, with a characteristic softness desirable in sweet tarts, biscuits, or cookies.

The attributes of a short dough are best appreciated when compared to items created from a non-short, or hard dough.

Bread is prepared from a dough that has no extra fat since the essential components are wheat, water, salt, and leaven.

Bread’s stiff, chewy texture might therefore be seen as the polar opposite of a sweet, delicate short dough.

The Long and the Short of It

So, how does the inclusion of this one element affect the final result? What happens in the dough to give it such a nice soft texture? It’s all about the degree of gluten growth.

Flour includes two proteins called gliadin and glutenin, which combine to produce a third protein called gluten when wet.

Gluten develops long chains or threads that are visible when a dough is combined or kneaded, eventually forming enormous matrices that hold the dough together. These gluten matrices are responsible for catching the carbon dioxide released in fermenting bread dough and causing it to rise in the oven.

Each of the two original proteins contributes unique features to the dough: gliadin provides elasticity and glutenin provides strength.

In addition to assisting a bread dough’s rise, the properties created by these long strands of gluten give bread its typical chewy feel.

To make a more soft baked product, we must shorten these gluten strands, or prevent their formation in the dough.

Of course, here is where the fat comes in. In a short dough recipe, the individual flour particles are coated or greased with fat, preventing them from sticking together when the liquid is eventually added.

While some gluten is generated, the strands are considerably shorter than in a lower fat dough, and they never have the opportunity to form the huge gluten matrices found in bread dough.

Because of the short strands, low extensibility, and inadequate strength, the baked product is more prone to break under pressure, crumbling, breaking, or snapping into pieces.

Different Types of Short Dough

While the main idea of a short dough is that it should have a high fat-to-flour ratio, short doughs may be created in a wide range of variants and for a wide range of uses.

These are often classified as either short pastry doughs or shortcrust pastry, or biscuit or cookie doughs (read more about the many forms of pastry here). Both want suppleness rather than hardness in their crusts or cookie bodies.

It should be emphasized that short dough often refers to un-yeasted doughs (do you know how to produce yeast-free bread?). While brioche and bun doughs include butter and many of the same components as pastries and cookies, they are not considered short doughs.

Short doughs should not be confused with laminated doughs, which consist of layers of butter encased in layers of a strong, non-short dough.

The goal here is for evaporating steam to get caught between the layers, causing them to rise or puff up. The chemistry of short dough prevents it from rising or puffing up in the oven.

Uses for Short Dough

There are several versions of basic shortcrust pastry that employ additional ingredients to adapt it to sweet or savory recipes.

A typical pie crust is made using basic shortcrust pastry, whereas pt foncer is a variant supplemented with eggs and a tiny bit of sugar.

Sweeter variants of shortcrust pastry are known by a variety of names, including pt sucre, pt sabl, sweetcrust pastry, and sweet shortcrust pastry. These include more sugar, which contributes to the suppleness of the crust and makes them great containers for sweet tarts.

Short dough is also often used in cookies and biscuits, with shortbread being the prototypical short dough biscuit.

This traditional Scottish delight is produced by blending flour, butter, and sugar in a 3:2:1 ratio, and it embodies the traditional short dough attributes with its crumbly, melt-in-your-mouth feel.

Shortcake, not to be confused with shortbread, is another sort of sweet cake that gets its name from the type of dough used to create it.

With their high butter content, the great majority of cookies are also made from short doughs.

Working with Short Dough

The qualities of a short dough may be modified by making minor adjustments to the method of preparation. When making a moisture-resistant crust for quiches or fruit pies, fully working the fat into the flour is the way to go.

By leaving bigger fat particles in the dough, you may create a flakier crust that will blister when cooked.

Rub the fat into the flour before adding any liquid to guarantee optimal lubrication of the flour and to prevent the production of gluten.

Before adding the flour to sweet short doughs, the sugar may be creamed with the oil. To restrict gluten formation, you should also reduce the quantity of dough that is combined and touch it as little as possible.

The high fat content might make the dough quite sticky if it gets too warm, therefore chilling the dough after combining it can be very beneficial.

When dealing with short doughs, it is best to keep them as cold as possible.

To summarize, the key to making a short dough is to keep the wheat from hydrating and generating long gluten strands. What a blessing that we have such a delectable product to accomplish this for us!


What is a short dough in baking?

In the context of baking, “short” refers to a high fat-to-flour ratio. By the way, this is normally only used to non-yeast doughs; you won’t see allusions to a “short” challah dough or brioche, for example. These short doughs are often extremely rich, crumbly, and soft with butter.

What is shortcrust pastry called in the US?

Shortcrust pastry is used in both sweet and savory pies across the globe. In the United States, however, it is often referred to as “pie dough” or something like.

What are the characteristics of short dough?

Characteristics of Short Dough

A short dough should be non-elastic and somewhat brittle, breaking apart readily when tugged. In many circumstances, it will only barely come together when blended and will be sticky or crumbly like sand.

What is short dough cookies?

Shortbread is a simple cookie comprised of flour, butter, and sugar. The cookie’s name derives from its “short” texture. The high butter content and lack of liquids in the dough inhibit gluten formation, resulting in soft, crumbly butter cookies.

What is shortbread good for?

Pros: A high-calorie mixture of butter, flour, and sugar. Butter contains vitamin A (which is necessary for healthy eyes, skin, and respiratory system) and vitamin D. Sugar is a quick source of energy.

Is short dough and shortbread the same?

Shortbread is a cookie, whereas shortcrust is a form of pastry. Shortcrust is a simple mixture of butter, flour, and water (typically) that may be used to make savory or sweet tarts, pies, and other baked goods. You probably wouldn’t eat shortcrust pastry without a filling.

Is shortcrust pastry same as pie crust?

A form of pie crust is shortcrust pastry dough. It is known as pâte brisée in French and contains no leavening agents and (typically) no sugar. When cooked, it becomes flaky and crispy rather than puffy. It’s the most common sort of pastry and works well in both sweet and savory dishes.

What is shortcrust pastry most used for?

Shortcrust pastry is a form of pastry that is often used as the basis for a tart, quiche, pie, or (in British English) flan. Pies made using shortcrust pastry may be sweet or savory, such as apple pie, quiche, lemon meringue, or chicken pie.

Can you buy ready made shortcrust pastry?

Jus-Rol Shortcrust Pastry Sheets are ready to use and may be topped, wrapped, or filled with your favorite toppings. There’s no need for a rolling pin since this sheet is ready to use and even comes with baking paper so you can bake it right away.

Why is it called shortbread?

Shortbread gets its name from the usual ratio of one part sugar to two parts butter, which gives the dough a high fat content. Similar to short crust pastry, this results in a delicate, buttery crumb that melts in your mouth. This proportion is also what makes shortbread so delicious. 2.

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