Traditional recipes

Tips for perfect homemade pastry

Tips for perfect homemade pastry

Making your own pastry may seem like a slow and intensive process, but that’s the joy of it. Comfort food isn’t just about the way something feels or tastes when you eat it, it’s also about how you make it and what goes into it.

And what goes into pastry matters. A lot. I’ve been Jamie’s head pastry chef for years, and below are my top tips for perfect pastry, but a general note is to buy the best ingredients you can afford. Always try to use organic unsalted butter and avoid margarines – butter is king for flavour and colour – and only ever use unbleached good-quality flour. For the eggs and milk, try to use organic because the colour is superior and the flavour is second to none. Finally, fine sea salt is best for pastry making because the smaller grains incorporate into the dough better.

Once you have the right ingredients there are lots of ways you can take pastry depending on what you want to achieve. The ingredients may be similar but the results are all completely different, from big buttery shortcrust for meat pies, to delicate puff recipes for mille feuille. Whichever you’re after, here are the key things you need to know.

Sweet pastry

Homemade sweet pastry is so easy to master and much better than the shop-bought stuff. It’s used as the base for all kinds of sweet treats, from lemon and chocolate tarts all the way to frangipane.

Tips

  • Resting is key! Never roll out freshly made pastry because it will shrink when it’s baked. Ideally refrigerate it overnight, or at least for a few hours. Once the tart tin is lined, place it in the freezer for another hour and blind bake from frozen.
  • Don’t over-work it or else it may become thick and crumbly.
  • Always roll the pastry away from yourself on a lightly floured surface, and always keep it moving.
  • Always make three or four times the amount you need because it freezes well and can be saved for a rainy day.
  • Sweet pastry is perfect for experimenting. Try adding different flavours such as cinnamon, lemon zest, vanilla, orange zest, poppy seeds to complement the tart’s filling.

Puff pastry

Puff pastry is the trickiest of all pastries to master, but is also the most rewarding because most supermarket puff pastry is made with substandard ingredients such as margarine. Many top restaurants don’t make their own, but all Jamie Oliver kitchens do. Nothing is quite the same as buttery puff pastry, lovingly made and fresh out of the oven! It’s responsible for some incredible treats, from mille feuille, tarte tatin and strudels to pie tops, cheese straws and puff pizzas.

This pastry is all about careful temperature control to ensure that the butter doesn’t merge into the dough while making the layers. When cooking, the moisture in the fat evaporates, causing lift and the creation of delicate layers. There are variations of puff pastry containing different amounts of butter – the ultimate version uses the same amount of butter and pastry, but it’s very hard to work with. For a beginner, using half as much better is more manageable.

Tips

  • Work in a cool environment to stop the butter melting and merging with the pastry.
  • The initial dough should be rough in look. Don’t overwork or it will become elastic and make rolling out very difficult.
  • Rest the dough for 60 mins in the fridge before making the turns.
  • Keep track of the number of turns you give the pastry by making a small indentation in the top of the dough.

  • Cook at a high temperature – at least 200°C/400°F for maximum lift.
  • As it is such an undertaking, you should definitely make loads of it. It freezes very well and will save you having to do it again for a while!

Rough puff

Rough puff is pretty much a cheat’s puff pastry. It is the same recipe but you incorporate all the ingredients together – including the butter – to form rough dough. You then give the dough the turns as you would puff pastry. The result is a light flaky pastry with uneven layers. You get about 60% the lift you would do with real puff, but it’s easier and can be knocked up in much less time.

Pie crust

Rough puff makes a great pie case but everyone needs a winning piecrust recipe too. Piecrust is very simple to make and only takes about 20 minutes.

Tips

  • My favourite combination is half butter and half lard. You can add some grated cheese to the pastry for extra indulgence too – just substitute some of the fat for cheese if doing this.
  • Grating the frozen fat into the flour will reduce the amount of time you have to work the pastry and give you a flakier, crumblier crust.
  • Only work to form a rough dough – having some chunks of butter still visible is a good thing!

Filo pastry

Filo pastry is a really tricky thing to make in a commercial kitchen, let alone at home. The quality of ready-made products is such that I don’t know anyone who makes this on a regular basis. You’re best off buying it ready-made – just check the ingredients list to make sure it’s free of any additives.

Strudel dough

Strudel dough is very similar to filo and rarely made, but I really enjoy the process and find it very easy to make. It is an unusual pastry to make and contrary to most other pastry requires lots and lots of working!

Tips

  • The idea is to make an elastic dough so leave it to rest overnight to firm up.
  • After resting for a long period of time, start by rolling it out gently with a rolling pin and then to stretch it out over the back of your hands until ultra thin.

Choux pastry

Choux is light, airy and crispy – think of profiteroles and éclairs, but it can also be fried and made into stunning doughnuts. It’s made in a very different way to other pastries and is cooked before you even use it. Choux is easy to master if you follow the simple rules and can be an impressive thing to have in your repertoire.

Tips

  • Always cook out the flour fully – this is the most common mistake. It needs a good 3 mins on a medium-to-high heat while constantly working.
  • Add your eggs slowly, one by one, and thoroughly mix.
  • Always check the consistency of the choux once the egg has been added because it varies depending on the absorbency of the flour.
  • Never open the oven door whilst cooking.
  • Don’t under bake or you will end up with soggy choux!
  • Use a star nozzle for piping because this will give you a more even bake.
  • The choux can last for three days in a piping bag in the fridge once made, so don’t be afraid to over cater!

Being a pastry chef for the Jamie Oliver group, the sweet pastries are my favourite, so here’s my recipe for choux.

Choux pastry

125ml water
125ml milk
200g butter
5g fine salt
10g caster sugar
300g plain flour
325g eggs

  1. Combine the water, milk, butter, salt and sugar together in a saucepan, then place over a moderate heat and bring to the boil. Meanwhile, sift the flour.
  2. As soon as the pan boils, remove it from the heat and add the flour. Beat hard with a wooden spoon to incorporate the flour. Keep beating until the mixture becomes smooth and comes away from the sides of the pan cleanly – it should take about 2 minutes.
  3. Transfer to the a mixer and beat hard for 1 minute to ensure it is well mixed, then leave to cool for 2 minutes.
  4. Break the eggs and beat lightly together in a bowl. With the mixer on a medium speed, gradually incorporate the eggs a bit at a time. Once it’s all in, scrape down the side of the mixer, then increase the speed for one last blast for a minute. The mixture should be dropping consistency, but it may need a bit more egg.
  5. Transfer to piping bags and store in the fridge for at least an hour before baking, or up to 3 days.
  6. To make profiteroles or éclairs – When it’s time to bake, pipe onto a lined flat baking tray lined with baking paper or a silicone matt. You’ll need walnut-sized drops for profiteroles or 3 inch cylinders for éclairs. Brush lightly with a fork dipped in water then bake in a preheated oven at 200°C/400°F 10 mins, then 180°C/350°F 10mins, then at 160°C/325°F for 10mins.

Perfect Pastry Crust Recipe

Skip the premade grocery store pie pastry crust. You&rsquore only 25 minutes of hands-on time away from a pastry crust that will elevate your baked goods like no frozen crust dough can. We promise.In this Perfect Pie Pastry Cust recipe, you can choose to work with a food processor to cut fat into the mixture faster or opt to work it out by hand. Once you&rsquove preheated the oven and floured you pie plate, the fun begins. Add your own personal touch to this homemade treat by shaping and pricking the dough as you please.Once you&rsquove tasted the difference between our best pie crust and that frozen version you used to rely on, you just might find yourself signing up to bring homemade pies to more potlucks than ever before. Especially when you use it with some of our old-fashioned, Southern pie favorites, like our Classic Southern Buttermilk Pie. Your friends and family will thank you by slicing a second piece.


Why use a Shortcrust Pastry Recipe

My Grandma had an amazing recipe for a perfectly flaky pie crust recipe. It is definitely an amazing crust and everyone who has tasted it praises it for its amazing flakiness. It is actually my favorite when it comes to TASTE.

The only downside is that my grandmother&rsquos flaky pie crust is a little more temperamental to work with. It is a little sticky and easily falls apart. When I use her recipe, I often end up having to do a lot of patchwork after transferring the crust to the pie tin.

After watching season after season of the Great British Bake Off, I was introduced to traditional shortcrust pastry and I just had to try this new pastry crust! And let me tell you, this is the perfect shortcrust pastry recipe for pies, tarts, and hand pies! Easy to work with and still has a great light and flaky texture.

While I don&rsquot think it tastes as great as my Grandma&rsquos flaky crust pastry, it is a very close 2nd.


How to Mix the Cookie Batter

Remember that a typical cookie batter uses a paddle or flat beater for mixing. Most home bakers make a mistake of beating the cookie batter to death and the resulting cookie is a very flat cookie.

The first step in preparing a cookie batter is to make sure your butter is soft, not melted and not solid. Use the microwave oven to soften the butter. Watch it carefully. It only takes about 30 seconds to soften a 4-ounce solid butter. If you know that you are making cookies the next day, pull out the butter that you will need and leave at room temperature.

Creaming

The first step in making the cookie batter is mixing the butter. If you have a soft butter, beat the butter for one minute then add the sugar. If you are using brown sugar and the brown sugar has hardened, you can use a food processor to break the lumps. Do not put hardened sugar with your mixture because it will not break evenly.

Have you noticed cookies that have that rough texture or granulated feel to it? It is because the sugar(s) have not been dissolved properly. So, the creaming (beating butter and sugar together) is an important first step to making your cookie a success.

Adding the Fat Binder and Liquid

Always crack your eggs in a separate bowl and not on the mixer to avoid loose bits of shells in your cookie dough. Combine your liquids—i.e., egg and vanilla𠅊nd stir to mix.

Adding the Flour

Combine the flour with the salt and baking soda and stir to incorporate. Always remember that whenever using chocolate in baking, baking soda is added to act as neutralizer to the acid in the chocolate. Add the flour gradually and stir every stage so the flour would be distributed evenly. Scrape, scrape is our motto in volume bakery productions. Nobody wants to waste a 50 pound of cookie dough just because of the flour imbalance.

Adding the Garnishings

With your mise en place (everything in its place) ahead of time, your nuts have been lightly toasted, perhaps, and chopped coarsely, and everything else has been measured. After adding at once, stir to incorporate and scrape. Use your hands to blend to avoid stiffening the dough.

Portioning the Cookie Dough

Never use your hands to ball up your cookie dough. It is bad on the dough and it is amateurish. Use an ice cream scoop. You will have even-size cookies.


This pie crust recipe with vinegar is the one my mom used for as long as I can remember. The vinegar makes it light and flaky, and the egg makes it a little more elastic and easier to roll.

  • Author: Laurie Neverman
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 3 pie crusts 1 x
  • Category: Dessert

Ingredients

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 cup lard or palm shortening, or half butter/half lard, cold
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 – 5 tbsp cold water
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar

Instructions

  1. Cut together flour and lard with a pastry blender or pulse in food processor to form pea sized bits.
  2. Mix together salt, 3 tablespoons water, egg and vinegar. Cut wet mix into flour mixture with a fork to form a dough. Add more water if needed.
  3. Divide, shape into disks and chill. Use a rolling pin to roll out between two sheets of wax paper or on a pastry cloth.

To Blind Bake (Bake Without Filling)

  1. Preheat oven to 375 ° F.
  2. Roll out pastry and fit into pie pan. Use a fork to poke small holes in bottom of pie crust.
  3. Place a sheet of wax paper in crust, weighted down with dried beans or pie weights, to keep crust from puffing up.
  4. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove pie weight and bake until lightly browned, about 5-7 minutes more.
  5. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack.

Notes

This recipe makes enough for 3-4 for crusts, depending on how thick you roll the dough. It can be made ahead and refrigerated or frozen.

Keywords: pie, pastry, crust, dessert

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Recipe Summary

  • 2 cups unsalted butter, softened
  • ⅔ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 ½ cups milk
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 8 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract

In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and 2/3 cup of flour. Divide into 2 equal parts, and roll each half between 2 pieces of waxed paper into a 6 x12 inch sheet. Refrigerate.

In a large bowl, mix together the dry yeast and 3 cups of the remaining flour. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the milk, sugar and salt. Heat to 115 degrees F (43 degrees C), or just warm, but not hot to the touch. Mix the warm milk mixture into the flour and yeast along with the eggs, and lemon and almond extracts. Stir for 3 minutes. Knead in the remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time until the dough is firm and pliable. Set aside to rest until double in size.

Cut the dough in half, and roll each half out to a 14 inch square. Place one sheet of the cold butter onto each piece of dough, and fold the dough over it like the cover of a book. Seal edges by pressing with fingers. Roll each piece out to a 20x 12 inch rectangle, then fold into thirds by folding the long sides in over the center. Repeat rolling into a large rectangle, and folding into thirds. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Remove from the refrigerator one at a time, and roll and fold each piece two more times. Return to the refrigerator to chill again before shaping. If the butter gets too warm, the dough will become difficult to manage.

To make danishes, roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thickness. The dough can be cut into squares, with a filling placed in the center. Fold 2 of the corners over the center to form a filled diamond shape. Or, fold the piece in half, cut into 1 inch strips, stretch, twist and roll into a spiral. Place a dollop of preserves or other filling in the center. Place danishes on an ungreased baking sheet, and let rise until doubled. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F (220 degrees C). Danishes can be brushed with egg white for a shiny finish.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the bottoms are golden brown.


A diplomat cream is a combination of 1 part pastry cream to 1 part whipped cream. It has the same flavor as pastry cream, but a much lighter, fluffier texture. Be sure to fold the two together gently with a rubber spatula when making diplomat cream.

Mousseline cream is a combination of 2 parts pastry cream to 1 part softened butter. It is also known as German Buttercream and has a silky texture. It can be used as a filling or as a frosting. When making, be sure to use very soft butter so that it can easily be mixed together with the pastry cream into a smooth consistency.


The best Norwegian lefse recipe

Quantity disclaimer!
The Norwegian lefse recipe below for 5 lbs of potatoes makes about 40 sheets of lefse and takes me about 2 hours to roll and cook.

Day 1: Potato Prep

  • 5 lbs potatoes (Russet work well due to their high starch, and low moisture content.)
  • 1 stick of butter

Because you need the potatoes to be really dry and cool for lefse, cook ’em up a day ahead of time.

Start a large pot on the stove and heat to boiling while you:

  1. Wash and peel the potatoes.
  2. Use a paring knife and be sure to remove any eyes or tough/dark spots from the potatoes that the peeler missed — tough spots won’t rice evenly and will make a sticky mess out of your whole operation when you get to cooking.
  3. Dice the potatoes for even cooking — plus, it makes them easier to rice.
  4. Boil until they are soft when tested with a fork.
  5. Drain the potatoes.
  6. Rice the potatoes while they are still hot.
  7. For every 4 cups of lightly packed riced potatoes, add 3 T of butter, cubed.
    Mix the butter into the hot, riced potatoes until its fully melted.
    Last, pat the warm, buttery riced potatoes into a 9吉 pan and let cool uncovered on the counter for an hour to steam off any extra moisture. Remember how I said dry potatoes are the best?
  8. Put the pan in the fridge overnight.

Day 2: roll and cook!

Because my mixer is not big enough to take on all 5lbs of potatoes at a time, I break it down into 4 cup increments — 5lbs of riced potatoes should net about 10 cups, lightly packed.

Per every 4 cups of lightly packed, riced potatoes as prepared on day 1, add:

1.5 C flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
½ C heavy cream

Plus, keep a generous amount of extra flour on hand. Don’t be stingy here! I load the pastry rolling board and rolling pin cover with about 1/3 cup of flour to start. Then, in-between rolling each sheet I add another sprinkle to the board and cover to keep them slick.

Preparing to bake lefse

  1. Mix the lefse dough: Blend the riced potatoes, sugar, flour, salt, and heavy cream until well integrated.
  2. Prep your dough into patties: This is a time-saver once the rush of rolling and grilling lefse begins. Roll the dough into balls slightly larger than a golf ball and press gently between your palms. Place back into the 9吉 pan, and put the pan back in the fridge so the dough stays cold.
  3. Pre-heat your cooking surface to 400: You may be able to go a touch hotter if you have a fast approach. My husband and I usually tag-team: one rolling and one flipping and can crank it up to 450.
  4. Prepare your rolling surface: Sprinkle the rolling pin cover and pastry board generously with flour and rub it in well.

How to roll and grill lefse

  1. I only pull out a couple of patties of dough from the fridge at a time so the dough stays nice and cold.
    Put another generous sprinkle of flour on the pastry board. Then, drop your patty on the board, and put another generous sprinkle of flour on top of it.
  2. Roll it out until you can see the print from the pastry board peeking through.
  3. Grab your lefse stick and gently slide it under the sheet.
  4. Slide the lefse stick gently back and forth the entire width of the sheet, making sure the sheet is completely free from the pastry board, or it will tear when you try to lift it.
  5. With the lefse stick in the center of the sheet, gently lift it off the board and transfer to the griddle: place one edge on the griddle and roll the stick beneath the sheet toward the opposite end, until the entire sheet is on the griddle.
  6. After about 45 seconds, or when the lefse has some light brown marks, flip it over and grill it for another 30-45 seconds.
  7. Lastly, let each sheet cool thoroughly before stacking, or the delicate sheets will collect moisture in-between and stick.


Why is this the best pie crust recipe?

This is a butter and shortening crust and has all the best properties of pie crust. The butter gives it amazing flavor and crispness, and the shortening makes lovely flakes.

I make several different kinds of pie crust. Sometimes I use an all butter crust when I want a sturdy and crisp shell. My amazing-baker mother uses all shortening for tender crusts.

A butter and shortening crust like this one is forgiving to work with and easy to roll out. And even better, you can make several batches and freeze it to get ready for the holidays.


How to Prevent Tart Crust from Shrinking

Here are a few tips to prevent your pastry from shrinking when it’s baked:

1. Don’t overwork your dough

Over-kneading the dough will develop too much gluten. Gluten produces elasticity in the dough and once the overworked dough is subjected to heat, it recoils quickly, pulling away from the sides of the pan and shrinking.

2. Let your pastry dough rest

The reason is to counter gluten development. After being worked, the dough needs to rest fully to relax any elasticity that has been developed. Let your dough rest for 30-60 minutes minimum, but the longer you can let it rest, the better it is.

3. Let your tart crust chill in the fridge/freezer

Why do we chill or freeze the tart crust before baking? The butter in pastry dough should be very cold or frozen. That way, when you put the tart crust in the hot oven, it won’t melt fast and gives stability to the tart shape while a crust is being formed.

With these few tips in hand, you’d be ready to bake up the perfect tart crust for your holiday pies and tarts. Buttery and flaky, crumbly and delicate, just as good as a tart crust should be.

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Baking puff pastry kulich: the recipe

The exact quantities and step-by-step instructions for baking the puff pastry kulich at home can be found below in the box recipe.

  • milk,
  • egg,
  • sugar,
  • butter,
  • vegetable oil,
  • yeast,
  • flour,
  • a little water to dissolve yeast
  • and candied or dried fruit.

Milk must be lukewarm, and the egg must be warm. I had used dry yeast in the recipe, but you can also use fresh yeast if you prefer. For the candied fruit you can use candied orange peel and candied lemon peel.

I also sprinkled the top of the puff pastry kulich with powdered sugar after baking. But you can prepare a sugar icing, like for the classic Easter bread, and brush it with it on top.