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Pastry Cooking Tips

Hints for the Perfect Pastry

 

Troubleshooting Pastry

Is the dough brittle or crumbly?

This may be caused by:

  • Rubbing in the butter or margarine for too long and not being able to add the correct amount of water.
  • Not adding enough liquid to the pastry. Add liquid gradually and use your hands in the final stage to ‘feel’ the pastry.
Is the dough sticking to the work surface?

Tips to prevent this:

  • Place the pastry dough on a piece of grease-proof paper and fold the paper over the dough.
  • Roll the pastry through the grease-proof paper, preventing it sticking to the surface or the rolling pin.
Is the dough cracking when rolling out?

This may be caused by:

  • Not kneading the dough sufficiently before rolling it out. Lightly knead the dough for a few seconds, until it is a smooth manageable texture.
  • Turning the pastry over during rolling out. Never turn the pastry over at the rolling out stage as it will pick up too much baking mix and become too dry. Turn it around as you roll to prevent sticking and only lightly dust the work surface and rolling pin with baking mix.
Is your pastry shrinking when cooked?

This may be caused by:

  • Adding to much liquid to the pastry. Ensure enough liquid is added to the pastry mixture to make a soft (not wet) manageable dough.
  • Stretching the pastry during rolling. Chilling the pastry before use will help prevent shrinking.
Does your pastry become too hard when cooked?

This may be caused by:

  • Not enough margarine or butter added to the dough mixture. Ensure accurate weighing/measuring of ingredients.
  • Too much liquid added to the pastry mixture.
  • Too much baking mix used on the work surface and rolling pin when rolling out. Use a very small amount to dust your work surface and rolling pin.
  • Oven is not hot enough. Too cool an oven produces pastry that is hard rather than crisp.
Does your pastry have a crumbly texture when cooked?

This may be caused by:

  • Too little liquid added. The correct proportion of liquid is important to obtain a crisp/light texture.
  • Too much butter or margarine was used. Ensure accurate weighing/measuring of ingredients.
  • Too much baking mix used on the work surface and rolling pin when rolling out. Use a very small amount to dust your work surface and rolling pin.
Has the base of your pastry risen too much?

This may be caused by:

  • ‘Blind baking’ (when the pastry is required to be cooked before the filling is added).
  • To prevent this – for tartlets, prick the bases liberally but lightly with a fork. For larger pies, line the pastry case with grease proof paper and weigh it down with dry rice. Bake for 15 minutes at 200°C. Carefully remove the paper and rice and return the pastry case to the oven for a further 5 minutes.
Is the pastry sinking on top of pies/tarts?

This may be caused by:

  • Insufficient filling. This will cause the pastry to settle on to the filling.
  • Oven is not hot enough. Too cool an oven can cause the starch in the baking mix not to gelatinise quickly enough. As the butter or margarine melts, air is lost and the pastry subsides.
Is there a speckled appearance on sweet pastry tops?

This may be caused by:

  • Overcooking the pastry, causing the sugar in the baking mix to brown.
  • Adding granulated sugar to the pastry mixture instead of caster sugar. Dust your sweet pastry with icing sugar if you ever need to improve the appearance.