Preparing the Perfect Pastry

The present day word ‘pastry’ derives from the Medieval English term ‘paest’, literally ‘paste’ and describes the way that pastry was typically used up to Medieval times. Literally, it was simply a paste of flour and water (sometimes with salt) that utilized to coating meat and fish to protect the meat from the fire. Within the paste coating the various meats steamed to perfection in its own juices, copy it very tender. Commonly the hard pastry casing was broken open and thrown away and the meat inside was consumed. cach lam banh

Throughout the Medieval period someone may have uncovered that the pastry on the bottom of the various meats was fluffy and delicious and this may have resulted in the experimentation of mixing fats with the flour and water mixture. From this, modern pastries were born. 

Indeed, pastries as we know them today only work due to fats worked into the dough. These fats distinguish the layers of flour as the pastry chefs and dries making the pastry both tastier and crumblier.

In case you then take this basic pastry and add an egg or an ovum yolk then the pastry both becomes more resilient and also becomes richer in flavor. Then you can add spices, herbs and other flavourings to alter how the basic pastry preferences.

You can also adjust the characteristics of the pastry by using different fats. Butter tends to give the best taste and lard gives the best crumbly texture (that’s why many cooks use a half butter, 50 percent lard mix). Margarine provides a smoother less flaky texture and a paler overall colour, that can be good for fruit pies. You can also make pastry with liquid oils, but these are hard to handle and must be used immediately.

However, the real key of making a good pastry is to use everything chilled (utensils as well as ingredients) so that the fats do not melt before they are really baked (this way you get little bits of whole fats in the pastry and this boosts both the flavour and the ‘crumbliness’. Then deal with the dough as low as possible, to ensure the materials obtaining too warm.

Intended for making sheet pastries such as filo pastry, flaky pastry or croissant pastry then you will make a basic pastry combine, roll it out then place butter (or other fat) on top and roll it before adding more butter on excess fat. This process is repeated several times, so that you find the levels of pastry separated by layers of fat. When ever the pastry cooks the fats help separates the layers so you get a puffed and frail effect.

The recipe below is comes from an old family recipe and gives perfect, light and slightly crumbly flaky pastry every time.

Traditional Flaky Pastry Recipe

240g self-raising flour
60g cooled butter, cubed
60g cooled lard, cubed
30ml cool water (about)
pinch of sodium

Sift the salt and flour into a sizable bowl then add the butter and lard. Using cool fingertips (dip in cold water or hold within cold tap) rub the fats into the flour (rub your thumb against your fingertips) so that the combination concerns resemble fine breadcrumbs.

Add the water a teaspoon each time (you will probably need about 4) and by using a knife (or your hands) incorporate until the mixture comes along into a dough. What ever you need to do, don’t add to much water, or the dough will become gross and heavy. You want to reach the point where the dough just binds together with the water for a light pastry.

Press the money together then (if you have been careful) you can turn onto a lightly-floured work surface and roll out immediately. The more difficult the pastry is to roll (ie it is a little crumbly) the better the feel will be when you bake it.

This kind of recipe can be used for both sweet and savoury dishes. However, if you would like to put it to use as a bottom for flans and certain other sweet cakes add 25g brown caster sugars to the standard mix above.

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