Making pastry is one of the things that that has been known to make a good cook shiver in their shoes. For some, making a souffle can seem easier by comparison. However, it is easier than it might first seem. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you master it.
There are two main things that are key in making melt-in-the-mouth pastry.
The first is to use enough shortening (butter, fat, margarine); the fat used is called shortening because it shortens the protein strands in the flour (gluten) and makes the finished product melt in your mouth.
The second is to use a very light hand when mixing in the liquid and rolling it out.
I only roll pastry twice and then discard it. Oonce it becomes tough and stretchy when rolling, (springs back to smaller than what you rolled) the texture of the pastry is tough to eat when cooked.
With the 2 rules in place, here is my recipe for no sodium pastry.
Rub the butter through the flour until you get a consistency that will form a ball when squeezed lightly.
Make a well or hollow in the centre of the flour/butter mix
Add 2 eggs to give the pastry a rich golden colour – this also helps keep it together.
Then add 2 tablespoons of water (you may need to add more water – dependent on the humidity of the day)
REMEMBER I SAID TO HANDLE IT LIGHTLY
This starts with mixing the dough. Use a knife to stop from over-stretching the protein.
Keep mixing until the pastry forms a ball, this is where you add more water if need be. Too much water will make pastry tough, so be sparing with the water.
The pastry is ready when it has formed a ball. Test the water content by taking a small piece the size of a walnut, flatten in your hand and pull gently – it should break before being stretched more than ¼ inch or 1cm. If it does not stretch at all – add a bit more water.
Saving the pastry
Wrap in the finished pastry in a plastic bag and let the this sit for 30 mins before using. This rest allows the protein/gluten to relax for a short crust finish.
Basics that use short crust pastry
Now you are ready to make anything you wish that requires a good short crust pastry, including pie crust, pasties, quiche, cheese straws, samosas etcetera.
There is another method to use when making sweet short crust pastry. I will explore that in another post.
To roll pastry out when it is very short – use 2 pieces of plastic one on bottom and one on top. Roll to desired thickness then remove the top layer of plastic to roll onto rolling pin and then flip over onto dish or pie you are trying to use the pastry on. Then peel the bottom plastic off (which is now on top) Voila – no more broken pastry!
Recipe and photos copyright by Colleen Loader 2013