Flaky Pastry That Won’t Let You Down

flaky pastryCompared to shop-bought flaky pastry, the homemade variety is a gazillion times more scrumptious.  The secret to pastry not requiring such a ton of elbow grease is to make a large batch of the stuff and freeze them in tiny batches, so when you need to, you can just grab some. This way, you will only have to make flaky pastry dough every few months. In the kitchen, and in life, an approach like this makes life easier in almost every way. As a matter of fact, a good motto to live by could be ‘make a truckload and freeze most of it.’ If you love baking and want to learn from an expert, take this course called Online Pastry School- 1 Week Mastery Course that shows you all the basics. Later, you may even want to expand your baking repertoire and attempt making some gluten free bread as well, which this course shows you how to do.

Think Gluten

Basically, the thing that breaks or makes flaky pastry is gluten. No matter what type of pastry you happen to be making, if you ‘think gluten,’ you will forever ace it. Pastry that is ‘too short’ and contains too much fat does not have enough gluten activated. Generally, pastry shrinks when there is too much gluten activated.  The key is finding the right balance. Keep in mind that when it comes to gluten, movement and moisture strengthen the strands, which is something you don’t want to happen. To lessen this, use ‘pastry’ or ‘cake’ flour you can find in the grocery. Use chopped up tiny pieces of very cold butter. Before using the butter, stick this in the freezer. The warm moisture that could come from the butter causes gluten to get going, which is something you don’t want. Use a food processor to get the job done in seconds rather than ten minutes of elbow grease. When adding eggs, move the dough as little as you can by mixing very gently or pulsing twice with the food processor so as not to get the gluten ‘too excited. ’ Here is an article about Chef Ropke and his bestselling courses that have been helping people learn how to bake.

Puff Your Own

Here is a basic puff pastry recipe using basic ingredients. This makes a perfect topping for pies and is also great for sausage rolls, pasties and homemade pasties.

Ingredients:

  • 230g ice water
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 500g chilled and diced unsalted butter
  • 500g plain flour
  • 1 tsp. salt

Procedure:

Mix together the flour and the salt and rub in a portion of the butter, about 60g. Use your fingertips or pulse this in a food processor, stopping the moment it resembles bread crumbs. Next, to the flour, add the rest of the butter coating and turning this into the flour so that the cubes of butter remain separate. The cubes of butter and the flour should be worked together lightly.

Next, mix the water and the lemon juice together before sprinkling this over the flour mix. Get the liquid evenly distributed by turning over gently. Don’t even try to bring the pastry together or knead at this stage because this will cause it to become overworked.

Over a dry, clean surface for working, sprinkle a lot of flour. Squish the dough into a rectangle roughly fifteen by thirty centimeters. The pastry top should be floured and as much as you can, evenly rolled out.  Throw a little bit more flour underneath if the pastry ends up sticking. Straighten the edges by using the rolling pin’s sides, when needed.

So they meet in the center, fold the 2 short edges over before turning the entire thing around. Imagine it being a book with the spin on the left side. Sprinkle the work surface and the ‘book’ with flour and roll this out to a biggish rectangle.  Fold it again in the center, as if it were a book and repeat the entire process again. Leave this in the refrigerator for a couple of hours after wrapping in cling film.

After a couple of hours in the fridge, you can then roll this out to use. Remember, make a few batches to use for the next few months as these keep pretty well anyway. Some folks advice twenty-four hours in the fridge and twelve hours of resting before you start using it to bake, for best results.

Hope this helps! Do you love baking? Here is a course called Learn the Pastry Arts—The World of Cookies from the comfort of your own home as 4th generation pastry chef Marco Ropke shows you the ropes.  Once you know baking, you may even want to explore other styles of cooking by taking a course on effortless gourmet food cooking.