The perfect pastry is a fine art! Whether it’s a pie or your morning Danish with your coffee, when the pastry is done right, it can be a little slice of heaven. There is such a wide variety of pastry types out there such as shortcrust, puff, choux, filo and so on. Pastry can be very intimidating but I am here to show you the different varieties that are out there and some top tips on making the perfect pastry.
The criteria for the perfect pastry is:
- Light golden brown colour
- Not too heavy or doughy
Shortcrust is the most common and universal of the pastry world. It is used for sweet or savoury tarts and contains little to no sugar. In France it is known as pâte brisée and consists of 50% flour, 50% butter and eggs. Shortcrust has a crumbly texture and almost biscuit like. A shortcrust can also be sweetened and is known as a Pate Sable. It is similar to normal shortcrust but with the addition of 15% sugar and sometimes with ground almonds. This makes quite a crumbly/fragile pastry. It is just like a biscuit, works perfectly for sweet tarts or even on its own with a cup of tea.
Puff the magic pastry
Puff pastry or Pâte Feuilletée as known in France, is a light and flacky pastry. It is made from a mixture of flour, salt, water and butter. Oh! I forgot to mention it’s made from slabs and slabs of butter! When it comes to puff pastry as Julia Child says ‘you can never have too much butter’. A puff pastry should consist of layers of dough and fat which form distinct layers once baked. Puff pastry is commonly used for pies, pasties, pies, vol au vents and so on. Puff pastry requires a lot of rolling, resting and turning. It is a very time consuming pastry to make and can be difficult to get right. If you are up for the challenge it is definitely a triumph to get right; personally I swear by shop bought puff pastry. A roll of puff pastry in the freezer is excellent to have on hand for a pie emergency. A little tip, use the scraps of puff pastry from your pie to make a little jam tart. A tablespoon of jam on the pastry, fold over the other half, brush with egg wash and bake……my favourite!
Not so tough rough puff
Puff pastry can be challenging to make, however rough puff pastry may not be authentic enough to win a baking competition in France but it is the perfect alternative to create buttery pastries from scratch at home. Rough puff pastry is made from flour, salt, water but unlike puff pastry it uses small pieces of butter instead of slabs. Rough puff can be used the same as puff pastry but you will not get those distinct layers. If you’d prefer to make your own pastry instead of buying it but don’t want the hassle of puff pastry, roughpuff is the way to go!
Choux pastry (pronounced ‘shoe’ pastry) is an unusual pastry to make. It is made by heating milk, butter and water in a pot until boiling, flour is mixed in with sugar or salt and is beaten vigorously with a wooden spoon until it forms a dough. Eggs are added to give it a dropping consistency. The mix is piped into differnt shapes and baked. Choux pastry is used to make choux buns and eclaires. The pastry has a high water content which turns into steam during baking, causing the pastry shell to expand and become hollow. Choux pastry should be light, airey and crisp. There is a wide variety of fillings for choux pastry but once filled with cream and topped with chocolate, I am a happy camper!
Feeling yo filo pastry
Filo or phyllo pastry, meaning ‘leaf’ in Greek, is waffer thin sheets of dough that have very little fat. It is commonly used for Eastern Europen and Middle Eastern bakes, for example baklava from Greece. Filo pastry is made of a basic mix of flour, salt, water and oil which is rolled and stretched until tissue thin. Filo pastry is one of the wonders of the freezer world as it is one of the most difficult pastry’s to make. I buy pre made filo pastry and I am okay to admit it! If you wish to attempt to make this pastry, it may take a few trial runs as it’s all about getting the consistency right and stretching it without ripping or tearing the dough. Someday, I will get the courage to make it from scratch and to all who try… I solute you!
There are so many different types of pastry and I would always encourage people to try make their own sometime as it is a great achievement when it turns out right. It is important to remember that even the best chefs use shop-bought pastry, so there is no shame in that game. My name is Shannon and I use shop-bought pastry!
Here are some of our pastry heres https://easyfood.ie/?s=pastry