Looking for something?

Farm Fresh Ingredients
Pastry

How to make perfect pastry

Ready-made is easily available in the supermarkets but you can’t beat the taste of homemade pastry. It’s crisp, light and melts in your mouth and it’s easier than you think to knock up a great tasting pastry that’s perfect for your pies and quiches.

 

Here’s some key tips:-

 

Measuring

Be sure to follow the recipe; pastry only works based on exact ratios of fat to flour to liquids, so get out the scales.

 

Ingredients 

The fat and the water needs to be cool, so best to use chilled or iced water. 

The fat used needs to be a high fat spread (at least 70%), margarine or butter. If using butter it needs to soften a touch in order to mix well with the flour.

The flour can be sifted before using. Unless stated otherwise in the recipe, always use plain white flour. Flour containing baking powder or self-raising flour will make the pastry spongy and cake like.

When the recipe calls for salt, always use fine grained sea salt or table salt for best results.

 

Water

It’s super important to use the exact amount of liquid. If you use too much, the pastry will be sticky and you’ll probably end up adding more flour to it and the finished result will be heavy. If you don’t use enough water the pastry will be too crumbly. So be sure to follow the recipe precisely.

 

Handling

When making pastry, keep everything cool, hands, ingredients and equipment.

When mixing by hand, remember not to over mix or over knead the pastry dough as this will make the pastry too greasy and taste too heavy. A gentle touch is required, heavy kneading is for bread, whilst pastry needs a light touch.

Wash your hands in cold water and pat them dry before mixing or lightly kneading.

 

Resting

Resting is key, try and rest the pastry for at least an hour in a fridge after first wrapping in cling film. Rested pastry is less likely to shrink when baked.

 

Rolling out

Remember to take the pastry out of the fridge for 15 mins before rolling out. 

The pastry should not be too chilled otherwise it will crack when being rolled. 

When rolling out your pastry sprinkle the work surface with flour to avoid sticking.

 

Avoiding Soggy Pastry

This is the most common problem with pastry and it’s easy to avoid. There are two key techniques:- 

Chill the pastry and the filling before baking, adding hot filling to the pastry almost always guarantees a soggy bottom. 

The pastry can be ‘baked blind’ before adding the filling and to do this, roll out the pastry and place in the base of your baking tin. Prick well with a fork to stop the pastry rising, place some baking paper over the pastry, add some baking beans then bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 C fan for 15mins. Remove the beans and baking paper and place the pastry back in the oven for 5 mins. Remove from oven, leave to rest for 10-15mins then add your filling.

 

Lining the pie dish

After rolling out the pastry on a lightly floured surface in short sharp movements, lift it up by wrapping around your rolling pin then hold it over the pie dish and unroll it onto the dish.  Press the pastry lightly into the corners with your fingertips or with a ball of excess pastry, making sure you don't break the pastry when pushing into the corners. Trim off the excess with a knife or just run the rolling pin lightly over the top to cut off the excess. If using a very deep dish, cut out a small triangle from the outer edges of the rolled out pastry before placing into the dish. This will help avoid folds in the sides of the pastry as it goes into the dish. 

 

Decorating

It’s great fun to decorate the top of the pastry by using some of the left over pastry bits. You can buy some cool cutters that will help make some nice shapes such as leaves, making your pie look great and reducing waste.

 

Crimping

Crimping or pinching the edges of the pastry can help ensure the pastry edges stay firmly sealed during baking. This is great for making pies. The crimping will help stick the lid of the pastry to the sides of the pastry and is done by tightly pinching together the pastry with your thumb and index finger. 

 

Egg Wash

Egg wash adds a really good looking shine and golden brown colour to your pastry.

Mix a egg with a little water or milk and lightly brush over the top of the pastry just before baking. 

 

Avoid burning the pastry

If the pastry starts to brown too much before the filling is cooked then simply cover with some aluminium foil.

 

Rough Puff Pastry

Sift 500g of plain white flour into a mound on your clean work surface and make a hollow in the middle.

Add a teaspoon of fine sea salt into the hollow in the flour together with 350g of chilled butter or chilled Stork block, cut into small cubes. 

Toss the fat in the flour so it is well coated. At this point add 250ml of iced water with 1 tablespoon lemon juice and mix lightly so that it’s fully incorporated in the dough. Make sure not to over work the dough, so once the water is incorporated roll it into one large ball. Wrap it in cling film and place in the fridge for at least 30 mins.

After 30 mins in the fridge, sprinkle some flour onto the work surface and roll out the pastry to form a rectangle approx. 40cm x 20cm in size. Now fold the rectangle into 3 to form a square. Turn the square 90 degrees and roll out the pastry again to form another rectangle 40cm x 20cm. Again fold into 3 to form a square, wrap in cling film and place back in the fridge for at least 30 mins.

Roll out to form a rectangle as before, fold into 3 to form a square, then turn 90 degrees and repeat the process for the last time, again wrapping in cling film and placing back in the fridge for at least 30 mins and ideally overnight.

Now the pastry is ready to use and roll it out to about 75mm or the required thickness as stated in the recipe.

 

Puff Pastry

Sift 250g of plain white flour into a mixing bowl and add a pinch of fine sea salt. Take 30g of butter or lard and rub into the flour until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.

Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice to 120ml cold water and add to flour mix. Stir with a palette knife to form a fairly soft dough. On a lightly floured surface, knead thoroughly to form a smooth silky dough. Sprinkle with flour and place in a polythene bag . Leave in fridge for 30 minutes. Shape 220g butter into a rectangle approximately 10 x 12cm. It should be firm but not too cold.

Shape the dough into a small rectangle and start to roll out with a lightly floured rolling pin using short, forward strokes to form an even rectangle 16 x 30cm and allowing the centre third to be slightly wider than the top and bottom thirds. Take the block of butter and place in the middle of the pastry dough and fold the bottom third up to cover the butter and fold the top third down over the folded dough. Seal edges with rolling pin by gently pressing down.

Now turn the dough round so that the right hand edge faces you and carefully roll the dough out again into one long rectangle, approx. 16cm x 30cm. Fold the bottom third up as before and the top third down to form a square. Sprinkle with flour and cover with the polythene bag. Leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes. Turn the dough a half turn as before and repeat the rolling and folding process for 6 rollings in total. You can leave out the third and fifth resting in the fridge unless the dough becomes too sticky.

Now the pastry is ready to use and roll it out to about 75mm or the required thickness as stated in the recipe.

 

Shortcrust Pastry for Pies

Sieve 250g of plain white flour and mix it with a pinch of fine sea salt.

Place the flour into a mixing bowl and add 125g of butter or Stork Block cut into cubes, Rub in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine even breadcrumbs. Add 2 brimming tablespoons of cold water into the bowl and mix with a palette or round bladed knife to a firm dough.  Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and lightly knead until smooth.

Shape the pastry dough into a ball, wrap in cling-film and refrigerate until you’re ready to use it.

For a richer sweet pastry, add an extra 25g butter or Stork, 1 tablespoon caster sugar and substitute 1 tablespoon water with an egg yolk.

 

Savoury Choux Pastry Buns

Preheat oven to 200°C fan.

.Line a baking tray with some baking paper.

Place100g of Flora Buttery in a large saucepan, add 300ml of water and a pinch of salt. Gently heat until the Flora has melted, then bring to the boil and remove from the heat immediately.

Add 130g plain white flour and 1 tablespoon of freshly chopped thyme and stir really well with a wooden spoon to form a soft dough. Gradually beat in 4 beaten eggs and mix well until the dough starts to become smooth, thick and glossy.

Use tablespoons to spoon the dough onto the baking tray, leaving a good space to allow for expansion.

Sprinkle with around 25g of grated Parmesan and bake for 15-20mins until the pastry is well risen. Use a sharp knife to make a hole in each bun and return to oven at 180 C fan for a further 10-15 mins until cooked and golden brown. 

Remove from the oven cut one side of each bun to release the steam and leave to cool on a wire rack. 


Your choux buns are now ready to be filled with great savoury fillings such as pulled pork or creamed mushrooms or some creamed cheese with fresh herbs such as chervil and chives. Delicious.