This was going to be a post about how hard pastry can be to get just right and the discovery of a ‘perfect’ way to create it, but many people don’t make their own anyway. The nuances of pastry-making and the pain felt by the baker who has created the perfect steak and kidney filling for a pie that turns out to be encased in chewy leather aren’t concerns for many people.
So here is the point. On Friday I read an article that changed the way I thought about pastry. It’s on the Serious Eats website and is a passionate explanation of why the method it details, works. The type of pastry is called flaky pastry in the UK, to be differentiated from the shortcrust that I make the most often and the puff pastry that everyone loves.
The most important point to note when making pastry is that too much ‘handling’ gives it that leathery texture, and any kind can suffer from this. From the point of adding the water, the danger lies in wait and the only way to avoid it is to incorporate just enough water, a splash at a time, with a utensil, rather than your fingers. In the linked article, it asks you to do so with a plastic spatula. I used a silicone version and normally I use a metal dinner knife.
See the results:
Of course, when taking the picture, I didn’t think to take one of the inside of the pastry crust, but I can assure you that it was as light and thin and delectable as I’ve ever eaten, acting to crisply hold the filling without collapsing as we lifted out the slices.
Truly a revelation if on a small scale.