“Cutting in” is a method for making pastry. It ensures that the mixture is not overworked. Pastry should be treated gently if you want it to have a good texture when baked. Overworked pastry is also susceptible to shrink when baking, again something we want to avoid.
The first step to making a pastry is mixing the dry ingredients with the fats. This is called rubbing in. For more details on this step please click here.
The second step is to cut in the liquids, often just water, into the dry ingredients. Although there are specialised tools available, I just use the back of a knife.
I do this by making a cutting movement through the mixture with the knife. I normally turn the bowl just slightly and cut again. In this way cut in some cold water, a drop at a time until it forms a dough.
Do not add too much water, the dough needs to be soft and pliable but not wet. It is important to use cold or even chilled water as we do not want the fats in the mixture to start to melt.
You may want to knead the dough lightly at the end to make sure the dough is well mixed. Again do not overwork the dough.
Many recipes will then have you enclose the dough in plastic wrap and chill it in the fridge. This gives the dough time to relax. It also helps to ensure that the fats in the dough do not become too warm.
2016 Lincoln W. Betteridge