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How to Make the Perfect Pastry

Making the perfect pastry is often one of the most difficult cooking tasks to master, but it can be done.  With a little practice, the right recipe, tools, and techniques, you can make perfect pastry that will allow you to not only make sweet pies, but also savory quiches and other dishes that will delight your family and friends.  This is a lost art that you are sure to want to master for your cooking repertoire.  Where do you start in your quest to make perfect pastry for your favorite fruit pies or savory pies?

Have the right tools.  While you may think that all you need is your hands, pastry is a fickle thing that will not be aided by a great deal of handling.  A pastry blender is one of the tools that you will want to use to help mix the dough together for your pastry.  It is invaluable for cutting into the fat and starting the mixing process without having to warm up the dough using your hands.

Have the right ingredients.  Pastry is a mixture of five different ingredients – flour, salt, sugar, shortening, liquid, and any flavoring that you want to add.  These five ingredients make up any type of pastry that you want, depending upon the ratios used.  Cold ingredients are the best way to start in your pastry endeavors. 

Do it the right way.  A good recipe will include detailed instructions in how to make the perfect pastry, including pictures.  There are some basic things that you can do, however, no matter what recipe that you choose.  Some tips that you want to remember to make perfect pastry are:

-Keep the ingredients and tools as cold as possible.  Allowing the fat to melt or the dough to get to warm will leave you with tough dough that will not be as flaky as you might like.  Keep your hands cool by washing them under cool water. 

-Add your liquids a little at a time.  Too much liquid will give you tough dough, while too little liquid will give you a more crumbly dough.  Finding the perfect balance means that you add the liquid a little at a time (as little as 1 tablespoon at a time) until you get the perfect consistency for flaky and light dough.

-Chill the dough after mixing.  While it takes some time, you want to wrap up the dough in plastic wrap and allow it to chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.  This ensures that the dough will not shrink up when you roll it out for your pastry.

-Roll out the pastry using a lightly floured surface and rolling pin.  Roll in only one direction and rotate the dough to ensure you get an even shape. 

-Cook the dough “blind” before you add any fillings.  You want to cook it for just a few minutes in a hot oven to prepare it for your fillings to keep the dough from getting soft from the juices. 

Making perfect pastry is not impossible even for the most novice of cooks.  While it may take you a few tries, the important thing is to keep trying and not give up.  Before you know it, you will be creating flaky and delicious pastries that will delight family and friends alike.  By following these tips, you will have a leg up on the perfect fruit or savory pastry.