Home > Baking > A Guide to Making Pastry

A Guide to Making Pastry

By: Margaret Paxton - Updated: 24 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
A Guide To Making Pastry

From such humble beginnings as unrefined flour and water mixed together, pastry has really come a long way. Made by the Romans as a basic food wrap, it was not intended to be eaten; but to keep in the meat juices during cooking. Since Roman time pastry has been developed considerably, with sweet, savoury and a plentiful choice in between, there is a pastry for every taste and occasion. Pastry chefs have become incredibly specialised too with their recipes.

Getting it Right

Proportions are key factors in pastry-making; a general rule is half as much fat to flour to get a pastry that is light but still able to provide a case for the food. It should complement the flavours of the fillings in texture as well as taste.

There is no amazing secret for instant success in pastry making. Patience and care with every stage is what matters. Even top chefs make mistakes sometimes; persevere and practise.

This list gives a few pointers to making pastry. While cooking is an adventure, some general guidelines are advisedly followed for successful pastry-making!

  • Handle pastry as little as possible and don’t spend hours making it.
  • Keep the pastry cool-it helps to refrigerate the mixture before rolling it. The cold air will then expand during baking and help to keep the pastry light.
  • If possible, make your pastry during the coolest part of the day. Hot hands don’t make good pastry!
  • Add the cold water slowly. More can be added if needed, but it can’t be taken out.
  • Try to keep the amount of flour used on the rolling pin and surface to a minimum; otherwise the fat/flour proportions will change.
  • One egg yolk added to the water makes a richer shortcrust pastry.
  • For a crisper texture in pastry that is to be served cold, use milk instead of water.
  • Preheat the oven to the right temperature before baking. This is very important.

Easy Shortcrust Pastry

This idea is great if you’re in a hurry! It’s even easier if you whizz it in a food processor with the paddle attachment...

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 225g plain flour
  • 150g soft margarine

Put all the margarine, 2 tablespoons of the weighed flour and the water in a bowl. Mix the ingredients together-with a fork-until they are creamy. Slowly add the rest of the weighed flour and continue to cream it all together. The mixture should form a dough that can be moved around more easily.

Without over-handling it, turn the dough onto a lightly floured board and knead it gently so that it forms a smooth and easy to handle ball shape. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Use as required.

For the ‘proper’ version of this, use the same quantity of flour but with 50g butter and 50g lard, cut into small pieces. Rub the fats into the flour gently with your fingertips until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. Add the water and proceed as before. This can also be made using a food processor, but use short bursts, not prolonged of machining. Don’t overload the machine!

It is worth mastering pastry-making techniques. The choice of dishes to cook are phenomenal and the satisfaction of taking your first perfect pie from the oven never forgotten...

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Wow I was looking to find a shortcrust pastry to be made in a food processor, and which uses soft margarine which we always have in the fridge. I was amazed at how well this turned out, and fast! Used it to top a chicken pie and it was really great.
marabsky - 23-Mar-12 @ 6:03 AM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
  • Hollie Shager
    Re: Types of Pastry
    Very helpful, it has a very simple and conveniently brief summary of a wide range of pastries in the world. It would have been even more helpful if…
    5 July 2017
  • Simon57
    Re: Types of Pastry
    worth reading i can adapt these to suit a vegetarian diet
    5 July 2017
  • Annie
    Re: Types of Pastry
    This website was very helpful <3
    8 June 2017
  • Mirza
    Re: Types of Pastry
    Provide interview questions in this topic for preparing job interview for best impression..
    1 May 2017
  • Horrible Speller
    Re: Types of Pastry
    Wow, this had been so helpful with my cooking assindgmenys for school. :-) Thankyou so much for posting that, Inhave also learnt alot more about…
    1 May 2017
  • Davinci
    Re: Utensils and Their Uses
    Thanks for ur lessons. You've saved the day
    3 January 2017
  • LearnCooking
    Re: Home Made Cakes
    Ang - Your Question:Why does my pastry taste bitter?Our Response:While you may not notice it whe
    18 October 2016
  • Ang
    Re: Home Made Cakes
    Why does my pastry taste bitter?
    18 October 2016
  • bradders
    Re: Roux-Based Sauces: What, How and When
    really useful website for any food tech detention
    5 May 2016
  • LearnCooking
    Re: Types of Pastry
    Learn How to spell - Your Question:People on this page really need to learn to spell, I'm looking at the comments and most of them have more than…
    22 April 2016
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the LearnCooking website. Please read our Disclaimer.