To be able to make perfect homemade pastry is every woman's and buttery but at the same time light but with a crumbly or flaky texture. I have enjoyed myself experimenting with pastry to try and create different textures and tastes. I realised that adding a little more fat and less cold water while making a shortcrust pastry as also taking very little time as possible while crumbling the fat into the flour gives wonderful results. Once you realise how easy it is to produce a light and crumbly shortcrust you can have many more options while baking.
Good ingredients are a prerequisite to a good pastry, used in the exact proportions. Although as you become more experienced you may be able to make a few changes. I always try to use less fat, but fat being the essence of a pastry, I have to settle for a slightly drier and definitely not-a-melt-in-the-mouth finish. Also only whole meal flour cannot give you a good pastry. Plain flour (maida) with a little bit of wholemeal flour or powdered nuts added for texture and fibre work well.
Dessert pastry needs to have a little sugar - either caster or icing - added to give it sweetness and colour. Vanilla, lemon or orange rind, spices and herbs are also used to flavour pastry.
'HANDLE THE DOUGH AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE' is the most important tip to remember when making a pastry. Use chilled ingredients and work as quickly as you can. If the dough is handled more it will shrink while baking and have a tough finish. Chilling the dough before baking allows it to relax and firms the fat to prevent it shrinking. Dough at this stage can be easily stored for two or three days.
As pastry dough is heavy.....another trick to lessen fat simply roll it thin. In doing so (1) a little dough goes a long way (2) you decrease actual fat consumed (3) you can enjoy it more often !!!!!
The 3 main types of pastry are SHORTCRUST / PUFF OR FLAKY / CHOUX.
I have covered shortcrust in another part of this blog and will cover puff and choux too very soon.

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