Top 5 Tips for Making Great Pastry
Are you a little frightened of making your own pastry? Do you feel is just too hard, tricky or time consuming – especially when it is so easy to buy?
Here are my Top 5 Tips for making great pastry to help you get over your pastry ’fear’. In no time you will be making beautiful homemade pastry that will really make the difference between a good pie or tart and an outstanding one!
- Keep your cool. Always keep everything – ingredients, utensils and hands – as cool as possible. If you have warm hands it’s a good idea to put them under cold running water for a minute before rubbing in the butter. On warm days you can chill your bench top by placing a freezer bag filled with ice cubes on it for a couple of minutes before wiping dry, dusting lightly with flour and then rolling out your pastry.
- Hands off. It is important to handle the pastry as little as possible when mixing and rolling. Overworking it will ‘develop’ the gluten in the flour, which can make the pastry hard to roll. Overworked pastry is also more likely shrink during cooking and to be tough in texture once cooked.
- Take a break. Always rest you pastry in the fridge both before rolling and before baking to help the pastry ‘relax’, and to set the butter. This, in turn, will make the pastry easier to handle when rolling, less likely to shrink during baking, and lighter in texture (less tough). Sadly though, no amount of resting can fix dough that has been overworked and handled too much.
- One direction. When rolling out your pastry roll it in one direction only at a time, starting near the centre, to stop it from being overstretched (which will cause it to shrink considerably when baked). Also, to help roll it evenly and stop it sticking to the bench top, use a medium pressure and turn the pastry a quarter turn after every roll.
- Go naked. There is no need to grease your tart or pie tin before lining it with pastry – the high butter content in the pastry will naturally stop it from sticking. I have also found that non-stick tins with a dark coating aren’t great for baking tart shells as the pastry has nothing to ’grab’ hold of when baking and will tend to slip down the sides of the tin, casing it to shrink dramatically. It is best to just stick to the traditional uncoated metal tins.
CLICK HERE for a wonderful Shortcrust Pastry that will show you that the homemade variety is a world away from the bought stuff.
Until next time.......Happy Baking!