You must have heard this from a maximum number of bakers that making pastry is just a cake walk. But why still many people go wrong while making them when it is just about 2 parts flour and 1 part fat.
There are some small and tricky points that people generally miss and their pastry goes soggy or just fall apart. Therefore, it is always suggested to apply a few techniques, which helps to overcome such situations. So, here are some crucial rules you need to remember while making shortcrust and rough puff pastries.
Rule 1: Flour Matters
Type of ingredients you’ll be using in your pastry is what that matters the most. When you need a tender crust and crumbly finish in your basic sweet or pastry, development of gluten is really very important. Most of the problems arise with a pastry is when you have worked it too much or have not taken any precautions to lessen the development of gluten.
When you mix two flour proteins called glutelin and gliadin with the help of water, gluten is formed. And now you can make long chains and sheets by using pressure, manipulation and by stretching the dough.
This is the reason why softer flour that contains lesser protein are more likely to make the shortcrust pastry crumbly instead of tough. Using ordinary plain flour is okay. If you want to make puff pastry, well, you need to convert the gluten into sheets, so by mixing a little strong bread flour to your plain flour, you can make better puff pastries.
Rule 2: Temperature Matters
When you mix flour and water, the water helps flour granules to swell and create gluten. It is highly recommended that one should use cold ingredients, marble boards and cold equipment because the flour proteins are absorbed much less easily in cold temperature.
If you are making shortcrust pastry make sure that the butter is also cold, the reason being it won’t melt into the flour while you are working it in. With if you are making puff pastries, the cold butter will impart an important barrier and air pockets between the pastries.
Rule 3: Fat Matters
The reason behind why we add fat in shortcrust pastry is to provide good flavor and to avoid gluten development. The fat covers the flour and prevents these proteins from forming bonds to make gluten, this is how it works. That is the aim why we always rub in the butter to the flour before adding liquids.
You’ll realise that when making puff pastry the butter is left in chunks and isn’t worked into the flour. This happens when too cold butter melts in the oven and leaves air pockets between the thin layers after they have hardened, which further results in crisp and flaky layers. And puffing takes place when evaporation of water in the butter creates steam.
Rule 4: Sugar and Acid Matters
You must be aware of the fact that sugar adds sweetness to your sweet shortcrust pastries. But do you know the reason why your sweet pastry is always better and more tender than your savory shortcrust? This is because when you add sugar to the flour before adding water, it will help to protect the flour from the water and thus, reduces gluten development.
Rule 5: Carefully Working the Dough
If you want your shortcrust pastry to be tender then you need to work with the dough very gently. Pressure is the other thing that helps in gluten development. You must have seen that the recipes always ask you to pull together the dough. But if you want short or crumbly results, you need to work less. Make sure when you roll out pastry, you should never apply a downward pressure on the dough and also avoid over-rolling. But if your today’s menu calls for puff pastry, it’s quite different. Basically, it is about rolling as you need sheets of gluten to form. Or maybe it is about folding also because it’s important to have thin layers of pastry divided by butter.