Pastry seems like it would be hard to make for scratch. However, it's actually quite easy, even for baking beginners. You can use the puff pastry shell for a variety of sweet or savory ingredients, baking it as a tart or a pie. Listed below are some simple guidelines on how to make pastry at home.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup pastry or cake flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 sticks plus 5 tablespoons of frozen, unsalted butter
- 6 tablespoons of ice water
Preparing the dough: Mix and sift the all-purpose flour and the pastry or cake flour in a large bowl. Coarsely grate the butter or chop it into small pieces and add to the sifted flour. Toss the mixture while adding the butter so that the butter and flour are thoroughly mixed. Add ice water and stir gently with a fork.
Making the pastry: Sprinkle your kitchen countertop with flour so the dough won't stick, and knead the flour and butter mixture until the butter is fully incorporated into the dough. This will help make the perfect flaky pastry. Finally, gather it into a ball and chill it for at least 20 minutes. Keeping the dough cold is a necessary step in the process of making pastry. If it warms up too much at any point in the process, put it back into the refrigerator for another 20 minutes.
Roll the dough: Remove the dough ball from the refrigerator, and roll it flat into a rectangular shape. Lay it with the long sides running horizontally. Fold the top third of the rectangle down on top of the dough. Then, fold the bottom third of the rectangle over the dough, so the edges of the folded dough meet in the middle. Then, fold the left edge of the dough over to met the right edge, and pinch the seam. Repeat this process one more time, which will result in an extra-flaky pastry. Chill for 20 minutes.
Prepare pastry for baking: The dough is now ready for you to roll it out into the shape you desire. Once you begin rolling it out, try not to over-handle it, and work quickly. Once you have rolled it to a thickness of about 1/8 inch, you can cut it into any shape you need. This pastry can be used to make pies, tarts, or many other shapes with sweet or savory fillings. Place the pastry dough in your pan, and then add the filling, covering the top with another layer of pastry. The baking time and temperature will depend on the size of your pastry and on the filling.
Making pastry is really "as easy as pie!" Pastry tarts or pies are not only delicious but also very simple to make. They taste much better, and include simpler ingredients, than store-bought pastry crusts. The pastry crust is the most important part, so take your time and do it right. Keep in mind that the recipe can be doubled or halved. If you're not ready to use it right away, you can store it in the freezer for up to a month, wrapped tightly in plastic.