Tip & How-To about Baking

The Secret to Making Good Pastry

If you're not a massive baker, you probably get frightened at the thought of making your own pastry.
The ingredients of pastry are very basic. Flour, fat and water to bind it as a paste. But depending on the proportions of fat you use and how you incorporate it, will alter the kind of pastry you make.
If you are making short crust or puff pastry, you need to keep the pastry cool or it will be hard to work with. Handling pastry if it's very hot around or your hands are sweaty will not produce good results.
Pastry should be mixed quickly as it minimizes the gluten development. The more you work the pastry, the more the gluten gets activated and then pastry can become elastic and hard to roll.
The same applies to making pastry in the food processor - don't overwork it.
If you're making shortcrust pastry, put the dough in the fridge for 30 mins.

Here's a recipe for shortcrust pastry;

  • 7 oz plain flour or all purpose flour (see tip below)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 oz butter, cubed or an equal mix of butter and lard
  • 2-3 tbsp very cold water
Put the flour and butter in a clean bowl
Rub the butter into the flour using your fingertips until it resembles fine crumbs
Add the cold water to the mixture until it binds.
Wrap in cling film and put in the fridge for approx 30 mins.

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