24 October 2017Last updated

Food | Recipes

Make the perfect pastry

Whether you enjoy a short, buttery crumb or light flakes, or can’t decide between savoury and sweet, we’ve got you covered

Camera Press
10 Mar 2017 | 12:00 am

Tips for perfect pastry

1. Try to keep your ingredients and hands as cool as possible – if the fat gets too soft, the pastry will be greasy.

2. Butter is better! Margarine has a lower melting point than butter and can result in a tough and oily pastry.

3. It is better for any liquid to be added gradually to avoid making the pastry too wet. The consistency should be soft and pliable, but not sticky.

4. Handle the dough as lightly and quickly as possible. This helps to keep the pastry cool and prevents the gluten from over-developing.

5. Allow your pastry to rest for as long as possible between making and rolling it, as well as before baking, in order for the gluten to relax. This will help to prevent the pastry from shrinking and from becoming chewy or tough.

6. Pastry freezes very well so make it in advance – just wrap it well in clingfilm or place it in a sealable freezer bag. Thaw the pastry and bring it up to room temperature before rolling it.



Prep time 15 mins
Cooking time 2 hours 30 mins
Serves 4

1 egg, beaten
For a short-crust pastry
250g plain flour, sifted
125g cold butter
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
50–60ml ice-cold water
For the filling
2 aubergines
1 small onion, finely chopped
Olive oil
150g feta cheese
1 tbsp chopped parsley

For the filling, preheat the oven to 180°C. Prick the aubergines all over with a fork, place on a baking tray and roast for about an hour. Remove from the oven, halve the aubergines and scrape out the flesh, spooning it into a sieve over a bowl. Sprinkle a little salt over and leave it to drain for an hour.

Meanwhile, prepare the pastry dough. Place flour, butter, salt and thyme in a food processor and blend until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add enough of the chilled water to form a soft dough. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

Roll the pastry out on a floured surface and cut it into 5x5cm squares.

To prepare the pastelitos, preheat the oven to 200°C. Sauté the onion in a pan with a little olive oil, until lightly golden brown. Stir in the feta cheese and parsley, and add the mixture to the aubergine. Season with black pepper to taste, discard the liquid and spoon a little of the mixture into the centre of each pastry square.

Using water or egg, brush a border around each pastry square and fold the corners together to make a triangle. Seal the edges by crimping them with a fork.

Place the pastries on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Brush each pastelito with beaten egg, and bake for 30 minutes or until they are golden brown. Serve with sweet chilli dipping sauce.



Prep time 35 mins
Cooking time 30-35 mins
Serves 8

For a sweet pastry
250g plain flour, sifted
125g vegetable shortening
1/3 cup caster sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp ice-cold water
For the filling
300g good-quality orange marmalade
100g pecan nuts, roughly chopped
To serve
Custard or ice cream

Combine flour, vegetable shortening and sugar in a food processor and blend until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add egg yolk and water and process until the pastry just comes together in a soft dough. Add more water if necessary.

On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough until smooth. Wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200°C and lightly grease a baking tray.

Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface to form a rectangle about 20x30cm.

Leaving a border of about 2.5cm, spread the marmalade over the pastry, then sprinkle the pecan nuts on top. Using a pastry brush, moisten the edges of the pastry with water and roll it up like a scroll, from the short end, and trim the edges with a sharp knife.

Place the roly poly, with the seam at the bottom, onto the prepared baking tray and bake for 30-35 minutes.

Serve thick slices of the pudding with custard or ice cream.



Prep time 15 mins
Cooking time 40 mins
Serves 10-12

For the choux pastry
300ml water
100g butter
150g plain flour
4 eggs
For the filling
4 egg yolks
100g caster sugar
25g plain flour, sifted
Seeds of 1 vanilla pod
½ tsp Earl Grey tea leaves
350ml milk
Dark chocolate, for dipping

Preheat the oven to 200°C and lightly grease a baking tray.

To make the pastry, gently heat the water and butter in a saucepan, stirring while the butter melts. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil and immediately add the flour all at once. Using a wooden spoon, beat the mixture until it is well combined and comes away from the sides of the saucepan. Cook for about two minutes and set aside to cool. When the mixture is cool enough to handle, gradually add three eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition. It should be smooth, glossy and a dropping consistency.

Spoon the mixture into a large piping bag fitted with a 1.5cm diameter round nozzle and pipe rounds of the mixture on to the prepared baking tray, leaving about 3cm between each one. Flatten any points with a moistened fingertip. Brush each profiterole with the remaining egg and bake for 25 minutes, or until the profiteroles are puffed and golden. Remove the profiteroles from the oven, switching off the oven and, using a small, sharp knife, pierce the base or side of each one to allow any steam to escape. Return them to the oven for about 15 minutes to dry out. Transfer to a wire cooling rack until ready to fill.

Meanwhile, prepare the filling. 
Whisk egg yolks and sugar in a bowl until pale and thick. Add flour and stir through.

Place vanilla seeds and tea in a saucepan with the milk, and bring it to the boil. Remove it from the heat immediately and strain the mixture.

Temper the egg mixture with a little of the hot milk, then gradually pour in the milk, whisking constantly. Cook the mixture over a gentle heat, whisking until it begins to boil and thicken. Cook for about two minutes, or until it a very thick consistency. Cover the crème pâtissière with clingfilm, allowing the plastic to touch the surface of the custard to prevent a skin forming. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Spoon into a piping bag, and fill each profiterole with the custard. Melt chocolate over a double boiler and dip the top of each profiterole to coat. Place on a wire cooling rack to set.



Prep time 15 mins
Cooking time 25-30 mins
Serves 8

8 phyllo pastry sheets
100–150g butter, melted
4 tbsp ground hazelnuts
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
4 large, ripe bananas, halved
Whipped cream, to serve

Preheat the oven to 180°C and lightly grease a baking tray.

Lay a sheet of phyllo pastry out on a clean surface and brush it lightly with melted butter.

Combine half the hazelnuts with half the sugar and half the cinnamon. Sprinkle a quarter of the mixture over the pastry.

Lay a second sheet of pastry over the first, gently pressing down to stick them together, and sprinkle another quarter of the hazelnut mixture on top. Repeat the process with another two sheets of pastry and the remaining hazelnut mixture, and set aside.

Create another four-layered pastry sheet with the remaining pastry, hazelnuts, sugar and cinnamon. You should have two stacks of layered sheets of phyllo.

Cut each stack into four, widthways, and lay half a banana on one end. Roll the pastry around the banana like a spring roll, sealing the edges with melted butter.

Brush melted butter on the outside of each roll and place them on the prepared baking tray.

Bake for 20-30 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. Serve with whipped cream.



Prep time overnight
Baking time 30 mins
Serves 6-8

For the filling
6 firm pears
100g caster sugar
60g butter, diced
3 tbsp white grape vinegar
40g chopped walnuts
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
2 tbsp butter, melted
75g blue cheese
For a rough puff pastry
250g plain flour, sifted
1 tsp salt
250g cold butter, cut into small cubes
150ml ice-cold water

Peel, halve and core the pears, and refrigerate uncovered overnight to dry them out a little. (Ignore any oxidation – the caramel will disguise any fruit that goes brown.)

For the pastry, sift flour and salt into a large bowl and add butter. Using a palette knife or a blunt-nosed knife, rub the butter into the flour using a cutting motion. Try to coat as much of the butter in flour as possible, although you will still see some chunks. Make a well in the centre of the mixture and gradually add about two-thirds of the water, mixing it in with the knife as you go. Add enough of the remaining water to the mixture to form a dough (the pastry should come away neatly from the sides of the bowl without leaving too much excess flour or butter). Wrap the pastry in clingfilm and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Tip the dough out on to a lightly floured surface and roll it out in one direction to form a rectangle. The pastry will be streaked with butter.

Fold the short ends of the rectangle so that the edges meet in the middle, then fold one long end over the other – this is called a book fold. Give the pastry a turn to so that the seam is on the right. Roll it out again, in one direction, to form a rectangle. Repeat the book-fold process.

Make a small indentation at the top of the rectangle, wrap it in clingfilm and refrigerate for another 30 minutes, while you preheat the oven to 200°C.

To make the filling, heat the sugar in a non-stick pan over a gentle heat, swirling occasionally but without stirring, until it turns pale gold. Increase the heat slightly and add butter and vinegar. Continue to cook until the mixture darkens a little.

Pour the caramel into a 21cm Tatin dish, oven-proof frying pan or cake tin and sprinkle walnuts on top.

Pack the prepared pear halves, cut-side up, as tightly as possible in the dish and sprinkle with zest.

Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface to form a rectangle larger than the dish containing the pears. Using a sharp knife, cut a disc out of the pastry big enough to overlap the edges of the dish slightly. Carefully cover the fruit with the pastry, tucking it in around the edges, and make two small incisions for any steam to escape. Brush lightly with melted butter and bake until the pastry is golden brown, about
30 minutes.

Remove the tart from the oven and leave it to rest for about 10 minutes before carefully inverting it on to a plate. Crumble the cheese over the pears and serve with fresh rocket and a home-made vinaigrette.

Camera Press

Camera Press