Pastry

Pastry

By
From
Encyclopedia of Food and Cookery

From crumbly shortcrust and the airy layers of puff and flaky pastry to feathery choux, delicate pâte sucrée, tender sour cream or cream cheese pastry, yeast pastry, hot water pastry, strudel and filo, pastry means a world of enjoyment: delicious sweets, puffs, pies and tarts filled with jam, custard, fruit and cream, as well as savoury fillings that make tempting hors d’oeuvre, appetisers, snacks and meals.

Most pastries are a mixture of flour and fat bound with liquid, but variations in ingredients and in ways of mixing and cooking produce different end results. A good pastry should be light, tender, crisp and somewhat flaky.

As with most cooking, success in pastry-making is really a matter of practice. Certainly there are those whose delicate touch contributes to the lightness and tenderness of the pastry. But experience has shown that by following a few simple rules, anyone can make good pastry. Start with the simple types such as shortcrust, rich shortcrust, sweet flan or sour cream pastry. Master those and you will then be able to make superb quiches and fruit tarts, and will be inspired to go on to other delights.

Commercial pastries: Nowadays, manufacturers make it easy and foolproof to produce home-baked pastries. Supermarkets carry pastry mixes, packaged filo, frozen shortcrust or puff pastry, ready to roll out, even ready-rolled sheets of pastry and stamped-out vol-au-vent cases, ready to bake.

Short pastries Most short pastries are made by mixing fat with flour and lightly stirring in just enough liquid to make the mixture hold together. Important points for success:

Have ingredients and equipment cool before starting, so that the fat will remain in tiny pieces without melting into the flour.

Handle the pastry quickly and lightly once the liquid is added to avoid overdevelopment of gluten (elastic strands formed by the flour protein and moisture), which makes pastry tough and causes it to shrink when baked.

Chill pastry for at least 30 minutes after mixing and before rolling out, and again when it has been shaped, before baking. This relaxes the gluten so that the pastry will be tender and won’t shrink when baked. The longer it is chilled after mixing, the better – overnight is ideal – but be sure to remove it from refrigerator at least 1 hour before shaping or you will be obliged to overhandle it.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
see method for ingredients

Method

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