Q: Why was my pastry tough when I baked it?
I made pastry last week – flour, butter, iced water in the food processor. I didn't over mix it, I rested it in the fridge and then again briefly once I took it out. On cooking it turned out a little hard and chewy. It all came together nicely out of the food processor but still had lots of flecks of butter through it but in the processor before I added the water it looked like the butter and flour had blended.
A: This is a really great question and is a common problem when making pastry in the food processor – basically all that has happened is the mixture has been over worked in the food processor and too much gluten has been developed which will make your pastry tough.
To start with, when processing the flour and chilled butter (always make sure it is chilled!) use the pulse button to process just until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. You will be able to see small pieces of butter through the flour – it is these butter pieces that will melt, create steam and form the flakiness in your pastry. You don’t want to process it until the butter and flour are blended together as you will lose this potential tender flakiness.
The next step is to sprinkle the water over the flour and butter mixture. When making pastry in the food processor you’ll generally find that you need a little less than if making the pastry by hand so be cautious at this stage as you can always add more, but too much water can also be the cause of tough pastry.
Then use the pulse button to process briefly until the mixture just starts to cling together but is still crumbly. It should be soft but not sticky and hold together when you pinch a little of the mixture between your fingers. Don’t let it get to the stage that it forms a ball as you may overwork the pastry and make it ‘tough’ when baked.
Turn the pastry mixture out onto a lightly floured, cool bench top and bring it together with your hands. Lightly knead the pastry with your fingertips until comes together but isn’t completely smooth.
Shape the pastry into a disc, wrap well in plastic wrap and place in the fridge to rest for 30 minutes or as directed in the recipe.