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Making pastry

edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Old Style MoneySaving
326 replies 40K views
catkinscatkins Forumite
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edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Old Style MoneySaving
Just don't seem able to get it right - either to dry or too wet - usually too dry. I add as much water as the recipes state, but it never seems to be enough, but if I add more it then seems to be too much even though I have only added a few drops. Where am I going wrong? Is there a foolproof method. It is annoying because apart from pastry I am not a bad cook.

I made some today and when I went to roll it out it kept crumbling. I assumed it was too dry so tried to add more water but it was such a disaster I had to throw it away. I had already made a mixture for fillings (was going to make spicy chickpea pasties and cheese and onion pasties) so don't know whether to try again tomorrow or resort to buying frozen pastry

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  • squeakysqueaky Forumite
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    It's all down to judgement I'm afraid.

    I've always found that the amount of water suggested in a recipe never seems to be enough and so I add more...

    My recipe for short pastry says two tablespoons but I always use four.

    I add all of this water at once and work the dough well. The dough should finish up soft and pliable but not sticky.

    Even if it is a little sticky - dust your board with plenty of flour and knead your dough on it until it picks up all the flour. If it's still a little sticky dust with flour again and repeat.

    As soon as it's not sticky any more it's perfect :)
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  • QueenieQueenie Forumite
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    ((hugs))

    It's ok, don't feel frustrated, it really is just a knack of frequency and familiarity.

    Ok, I can't remember (too many years ago :o ) but there was a guage of EITHER 1 tsp of water per ounce of flour or it may have been 1 Tablesp. of water per ounce :confused: Try working it with 1 tsp per ounce. ( because 1 Tbsp = 3 tsp , which would be a complete disaster if my memory has done me wrong! ) If it's too crumbly, try adding 2 tsp per ounce of flour, and if that is still too crumbly and won't hold together, then you'll know it should be 1Tbsp per ounce of flour).

    Shortcrust pastry shouldn't be "sticky" nor crumbly, it should be just damp enough to form a dough when the mixture is squeezed together. You need to work the water in with your fingers for a minute or two.

    If you rub the fat into the flour by hand, again, do it with your fingertips, not the palm of your hand (the heat from the palm of your hand will affect the fat).

    In an ideal world, you should then put your pastry into the fridge for at least half an hour to "rest" (pastry is a lazy little oink and likes to have a rest before a roll)

    Think: Chilled!! Use "chilled" water; chill your pastry before rolling .. then ...
    ... a hot oven :D

    Pastry adores a light hand ... a gentle, gradual roll rather than a good fast, heavy pressing. (On the chilled theme, it used to be possible to buy rolling pins which were hollow, then you could add ice/iced water to the inside to still maintain the cool! Also, in the good old days, pastry would be rolled out on a marble slab - again, to maintain a cooler surface)

    Any flour added to your work surface/rolling pin should be minimal (think face powder ;) ) because too much alters the flour/fat ratio and can result in either a heavy, cracked or rubbery pastry!
    The desired result is a light, crumbly, melt in the mouth effort.

    Don't give up - do persevere ... a good hm pastry is a rare treat and well worth the trial and error!!

    ((hugs))
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  • raebleraeble Forumite
    911 posts
    Do you have a food processor? Try making it in there, then leave it to cool for a while in the fridge. I am terrible at making pastry - it is always very chewy and tough but it comes up fine when I make it in the processor.
  • rchddap1rchddap1 Forumite
    5.9K posts
    I never look at a shortcrust pastry recipe as far as liquids go. I usually add a bit, mix...mix some more to be sure...and then repeat the process until it starts to come together. Once I'm left with a few bits I get my hands in and work the last few bits together. I always treat it gently of course, but over time you'll work out what is best for you.
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  • ChippsChipps Forumite
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    Hi. I have a great recipe for the sort of pastry that is for pasties & flans, you can roll it out quite thin & it doesn't tend to fall to bits when you pick it up. The only downside about the recipe is that its quite an old fashioned one that doesn't tell you how much water to add. (wisely, I suspect, as that probably depends on things like the temperature & so on)

    3 oz margarine (or butter or beef dripping)
    8 oz plain flour
    Rub fat into flour. Add water to make soft dough.

    Like I said, not much information there. But it works! (Not that I have tried it with beef dripping)

    The same book has a recipe for short pastry suitable for pies, tarts & baked puddings. This is a much lighter, crumblier pastry (although you wouldn't think it, looking at the ingredients)

    2 oz margarine or butter
    2 oz lard (or vegetable cooking fat or beef dripping
    8 oz plain flour

    Chop all fat into flour with a knife until lumps are no more than pea size. Add water to make firm dough.

    Again, not a lot of help with quantities of water, but it is a lovely light pastry.
  • QueenieQueenie Forumite
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    Chipps wrote:
    .............. The only downside about the recipe is that its quite an old fashioned one that doesn't tell you how much water to add. (wisely, I suspect, as that probably depends on things like the temperature & so on) .

    One of the reasons why that is, is because different makes of flour have a different "absorbsion" rate when it comes to the water aspect - it's the same with bread machine's ... if you use a brand of flour which is different from the given recipe, then there's always the potential for a smidgen more or less water.

    The flour/fat ratio for shortcrust pastry remains consistent: half fat to flour. Once they are rubbed in together, they should resemble fine breadcrumbs before adding any liquid.

    I do agree though, with your recipes, that dripping makes the very *best* savoury shortcrust, but failing that, then half lard half marg/butter gives a much, much better shortcrust then simply marg or butter! Save the butter for when you make a sweet shortcrust and need a bit of "richness" to the flavour LOL :D
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  • RebobRebob Forumite
    1K posts
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    The best advise is to keep practicing! A food processor can really help so if you do not have one borrow one to try it out. I always had problems with buns but having cold hands helped my pastry!!!
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  • KTFrugalKTFrugal Forumite
    74 posts
    This one always works like a treat and because of the egg, doesn't crack, so is easy to roll out:

    9oz plain white flour
    1 tsp salt
    2 1/2 oz cold butter, cut into small pieces
    1 egg yolk (you can whisk the white into your flan recipe without disaster)
    2 1/2 floz COLD water
    1 tsp sugar

    Whisk together the yolk, water and sugar.
    Whisk together the flour and salt.
    Put the flour mix into a processor, add the butter and pulse to mix till it looks like breadcrumbs.
    Dribble over the liquid mixture and pulse again till it comes together. Don't overmix, but it should clean the bowl.

    Put the pastry on a sheet of cling film, flip over the film and flatten it into a disc (keeps your hot little hands off it and keeps 'em clean).

    Chill the pastry in the fridge for at least 30 mins.
  • Smiley_MumSmiley_Mum Forumite
    3.8K posts
    I've been Money Tipped!
    In Home Economics in school (many moons ago ;) ) we were told to run our wrists under some cold running water before making pastry. That way your hands are sufficiently cool when you handle the dough etc.

    When I make pastry I usually rub in the butter/marg etc until crumbly and then just add in sufficient water to make a soft dough. I always use more liquid than the recipe suggests, always need to. Add a good bit to start and then trickle a little bit in when it's nearly to the right consistency. Try not to handle the dough too much otherwise it will become tough. Store in the fridge for 10 mins or so and then roll it out.
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  • SnowyOwl_2SnowyOwl_2 Forumite
    5.3K posts
    Have you got a copy of the Be-Ro book? The latest has a good section about pastry making, including some photos. It's only £1.25, a bargain considering how much is in it and it should help you out. It repeats the advice given above regarding cold hands, using v.v.cold water, using only finger tips, resting it and so on, and the instructions and receipes are pretty clear. See Squeaky's thread regard the Be-Ro book if you think you might like to invest in it.

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