Pastry is flour mixed with shortening and flavoring ingredients to produce a coherent mass, used for pies and other dishes in North American, European, and Middle Eastern cuisines

Basic additions are fat, a little salt, and water. Pastry-making, pâtisserie in French, has developed as a special branch of cookery. Specialized products of the pastry cook or pâtissier include delicate flour and sugar confections (cakes, cookies, waffles, meringues, frostings, glazes, and fillings) combined in small pastries for snacks, taken with tea or coffee or after meals. By extension, the word pastry is sometimes used collectively to indicate sweet, flour-based items for dessert.

 Defining pastry types is difficult, as there are numerous variations. Three basic ones are short-crust or pie pastry, puff pastry, and flaky or rough puff. Short-crust pastry is one part fat (butter, lard, or commercial pastry fat) to two of flour by weight. The fat is cut or rubbed into the flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs, a little ice water is added, and the mass is pressed together with minimal working to make a dough. French pâte brisée is similar, but uses a little more fat and is mixed with egg. Variations include sweetened pâte sucrée and pâte sablée (very rich, similar to cookie dough). Short pastries are crumbly when cooked and used for many pies and tarts.

 Puff pastry or pâte feuilletée fine, is an elaborate, layered pastry with a tender melting texture and excellent flavor. Equal proportions of butter to flour by weight are used. About a fifth of the butter is cut into the flour, and water is added to make a dough. This is allowed to rest in a cool place, and then rolled out; the remaining butter is then placed as a block in the center of the sheet of dough, which is folded over it. It is rerolled and folded in three, a process known as a "turn." Four turns are made with rests between, giving a dough with thin, even layers of fat between leaves of dough; air pockets also get trapped in the layers. Well-made puff pastry has up to 240 layers, and expands up to eight times its original thickness during baking. It is used for napoleons, cornets (cone-shaped pastries often filled with whipped cream or ice cream), and other fine pastries, sweet or savory, in the French tradition.