A Guide to Making.....Pastry

This page is dedicated to dealing with the technical aspects of making pastry.  Please don't be put off by the word 'technical', pastry really isn't difficult.  Just follow a few simple rules, and you'll be laughing!  


Hot Water Crust Pastry
 
Hot water crust pastry is different to other pastries in that boiling water and melted lard (or TREX if you're making a vegetarian version) are added to the flour.  The pie is shaped whilst the pastry is still warm, so you do need to work quite quickly.  The shaped pastry is then chilled before any filling is added.  The pastry is quite robust.
1.  Place the plain flour, bread flour, salt and chilled butter into a large bowl.
2.  Cut the butter into small cubes.  Rub the butter between your thumb and fingers into the flours until it resembles breadcrumbs.
3. Meanwhile place the boiled water and lard / TREX into a pan over a low heat to melt the fat.  Once melted take off the heat.
4.  Make a well in the flour mixture and pour most of the water and melted fat into the well. 
5.  Use a knife to cut through the flour and liquid.  It will gradually start to come together.  Add more of the liquid as required to create a dough.
6. Tip the dough onto a floured work surface and knead it lightly for 1 - 2 minutes to create a smooth dough.
7.  Use the pastry promptly as the recipe indicates.


Short Crust Pastry
 
 
1.  Pop the flour, salt and cold cubed butter into a bowl.  Rub the fat between your thumb and fingers into the flour until it resemble breadcrumbs.   
2.  Add a little cold water to the breadcrumbs.  The amount will depend upon the volume of pastry and the flour you are using, so it's wise to add a little then add more should you need it. Using a knife, cut through the breadcrumbs and water to start forming a dough. Bring the dough together with your hands, trying to handle it as little as possible.
3. Place on a lightly floured work surface.  Shape the dough into a  ball and flatten it lightly with your hand. 
4. Wrap the pastry in cling film and pop in the fridge to relax for at least 15 minutes.  This stage can be omitted if your short of time, but it does make a difference in preventing the pastry from shrinking whilst it is cooking.
5. Using a rolling pin dusted with flour, roll the pastry out on a lightly floured work surface.  Rotate the pastry after every couple of rolls to prevent it from sticking to the surface.  Dust the work surface with more flour if required.
6. Once the pastry is rolled out, wrap the pastry around the rolling pin in order to transfer it to the tart case / tray etc.
7. If lining a flan case try to ensure the pastry sits in the 'corners' well.  An easy way to guide pastry into the edges is to wrap a small piece of excess pastry in cling film and use that to coax it. This will help prevent the pastry from tearing with long finger nails.
8.  Place the pastry case in the fridge again for a further 15 minutes to chill.
9. Trim the pastry edges as necessary with a sharp knife.
10. The pastry may need 'blind baking' (see below) before the filling is added.


Sweet Pastry
 
Sweet pastry is very similar to Short Crust Pastry in the way that it's made.  It's very straight forward and a delight to eat.
1.  Place the flour, salt and cold cubed butter into a bowl.  Rub the fat between your thumb and fingers into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs.
2.  Sift the icing sugar (or caster sugar) into the breadcrumbs and gently mix together.
3.  Break the egg into a cup and lightly beat.  Add the egg to the flour mixture and, using a knife, cut through the flour and egg to make a dough.  You may need to add a dash of milk if there are remaining crumbs.
4.  Bring the dough together with your cool hands.  On a work surface dusted with flour, work the pastry until it is nice and smooth for about 10 seconds. 
5.  Form the dough into a ball and lightly flatten it with your hand to make a disc.  Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for at least 15 minutes to relax.  This helps reduce shrinkage when the pastry is baked.
6.  Using a rolling pin dusted with flour, roll the pastry out on a lightly floured work surface.  Rotate the pastry after every couple of rolls to prevent it from sticking to the surface.  Dust the work surface with more flour if required.
7  Once the pastry is rolled out, wrap the pastry around the rolling pin in order to transfer it to the tart case / tray etc.
8. If lining a flan case try to ensure the pastry sits in the corners well.  An easy way to guide pastry into the edges is to wrap a small piece of excess pastry in cling film and use that to coax it. This will help prevent the pastry from tearing with long finger nails.
9.  Place the pastry case in the fridge again for a further 15 minutes to chill.
10. Trim the pastry edges as necessary with a sharp knife.
11. The pastry may need 'blind baking' (see below) before the filling is added.


Blind Baking Pastry
 
If making a flan, it's often wise to blind bake the pastry before placing the filling in.  This will help prevent a 'soggy bottom', as Mary Berry would say.

Blind Baking Pastry

 

1. With a fork gently prick the pastry base.  Try not to go all the way through the pastry - you don't want big holes in it!
2. Cut a piece of grease proof paper big enough to sit in and come up the sides of the flan case you're baking.
3. Scrunch it up into a ball, then open it out and gently ease it into the pastry lined flan tin.  Top the greaseproof paper with either baking beans / uncooked rice / dried beans.  (I have a bag of uncooked rice I keep aside for this specific purpose).   This stops the pastry from puffing up whilst baking it blind.
4. Try to ensure the greaseproof paper & 'baking beans' sit in the 'corners' well.
5. Bake the pastry at the temperature the recipe identifies.  You will then need to remove the 'baking beans' and greaseproof paper, and continue cooking for a short while longer before adding the filling.




Choux Pastry

Choux pastry is made in a pan on the hob with water, butter, sugar, flour and eggs, and is used for making profiteroles and ├ęclairs.  The mixture has to be beaten really well at different stages.
When reading about choux pastry, I realised there are a couple of key points to remember when making this pastry.
i) The profiterols / ├ęclairs require steam to rise when baking in the oven.  To achieve this place a sided tray on the bottom shelf of your oven whilst it is pre-heating.  When the pastry is ready to bake, quickly pour a glass of water into the heated tray and close the oven door.  Steam will be quickly generated.
ii) Too much steam will cause the choux pastry to collapse, so after 5 or 6 minutes open the oven door by 1 or 2 cm to allow it to disperse.  Leave the oven door at this position whilst they finish baking.
iii)  When the flour is added to the water and butter mixture beat it well until smooth.  When the pan is replaced back on the heat keep mixing and you will notice a little liquid escape from the paste and evaporate.  Don't allow it to become too dry else it will crack during cooking.
iv) Again, when the flour has been added and the choux paste is 'poaching' listen very carefully to the mixture.  After one or two minutes you will hear it 'popping'.  At this point take the pan off the heat.
v) Refrain from adding the eggs too soon, else the heat in the pan will scramble them!

1. To make the choux pastry.  Place the water, milk, cubed butter, salt and sugar into a small - medium sized pan.  Place over a medium heat to melt the butter.  Boil the mixture for 1 minute stirring all of the time. 
2. Remove from the heat and quickly add the flour, mixing well until shiny and smooth. 
3. Place the pan back on the heat and continue stirring for 1-2 minutes.   Don't allow the mixture to become too dry. Listen for that 'popping' sound.
4. Take off the heat and tip the mixture into another pan or good sized bowl to help it cool. Keep mixing, again to help reduce the temperature.
5. Once lukewarm, add the eggs in two or three stages, beating well after each addition.  The mixture should be shiny and thick, a droppable consistency when the spoon is sharply tapped.
6. Use as the recipe identifies.

Only Crumbs Remain


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