Pastry

Pastry

By
Justin North
Contains
15 recipes
Published by
Hardie Grant Books
ISBN
9781740665377
Photographer
Steve Brown

Pastries

Although it’s often considered an art, in my view pastry making is actually more of a science, and a simple science at that.

The very thought of making pastry is enough to make some people break out in a sweat.

There’s so much hoo-hah about the right and wrong ways: whether your hands are the correct temperature, using the appropriate flour, whether you can make pastry in a food processor or do you absolutely have to get your hands dirty. And then there are all the different types of pastry: short, sweet, puff (to name but a few). It’s no wonder people get nervous. However, it’s really just about observing a few simple principles and, most critically, weighing your ingredients precisely.

Most of the pastries in this lesson can indeed be made in a food processor, although I personally find there is something very satisfying and relaxing about getting into the mix with your hands, rubbing in the butter, perhaps working in an egg yolk and gently bringing it all together to form a smooth ball in the palm of your hands.

All of these dough recipes can be made in large quantities, divided into batches and frozen. And to be honest, some can also be purchased if you really don’t feel up to the challenge of making it yourself. This is especially true of puff pastry, which can be tricky to get right at home. My tip is to source a good baker or pastry shop which sells fresh, good-quality puff pastry.

General tips

The quicker the better is the overriding rule when making pastry. Unlike bread doughs, pastry needs minimal gluten development, so there’s no kneading, stretching or working required. This is one reason why pastries are successfully made in a food processor – it speeds up the amalgamation process.

Rest and chill the pastry each time it’s handled and it won’t shrink in the tart tin. I recommend an hour in the refrigerator once the dough’s made, and then another 30 minutes once it’s been rolled out and lines the tin.

When rolling out the pastry, use a heavy, lightly floured rolling pin and make sure your work surface is clean. Roll out only as much dough as you need using downward pressure and rolling it away from you. Lift and rotate the dough a quarter turn every so often until you achieve the desired shape at a thickness of between 3–5 mm. Don’t worry if it’s uneven; you can patch it together in the tin using extra scraps if need be.

Butter the tart tin with melted butter and place it on a large heavy-based baking tray. Use your rolling pin to lift the pastry up and over the tin. Use your fingers to gently push the pastry into the bottom and up the sides of the tin. Trim the excess pastry, leaving an overhang of about 1–2 cm. Prick the base all over with a fork.

To avoid soggy pastry, most tarts are baked ‘blind’ before the filling is added. This means that they are partly or completely cooked, depending on whether the filling itself also needs to be cooked. To blind bake, you need to line the tart with a circle of baking paper and fill it with dried beans (you can buy special ceramic or metal beans for just this purpose, but any old dried pulses will do just as well). The tart is then baked in a preheated oven. After about 20 minutes, the tart will be partially baked. If it is to be filled with a wet filling, such as a custard, the paper and beans are removed and the filling poured in. Once the filling is poured into the tart shell, it should be cooked immediately.

Featured Recipes in this Chapter

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