This week, we’re focusing on the basics of pastry, too, with a collection of tips from Michelin-starred chefs and food writers on all matters shortcrust and puff. Telegraph columnist Xanthe Clay offers some advice for bakers attempting to make their own, “ready-made pastry [shortcrust and puff] is pretty good, and puff pastry is best left to professionals and serious enthusiasts,” she says, “but rough puff is worth the (not very great) effort, if you enjoy spending an afternoon in the kitchen, for its fabulous buttery flavour.”
Traditional puff pastry is so hard to perfect that even Mary Berry, otherwise known as the queen of baking, suggests that bakers should “make life a little easier” and use shop-bought. Apple tarte tatin recipes, which require puff pastry, by Michelin-starred chefs Marcus Waering and Raymond Blanc also call for the shop-bought variety.
On the opposite side of the spectrum is shortcrust pastry, made using a similar dough mix of butter, plain flour, salt and water.
Rough puff: the basics
Rough puff is a cheat’s puff pastry, achieving light and flaky layers in half the time. You will get about 60 per cent of the lift you would do with real puff but it still doesn’t shrink as much as shop-bought.
The simple dough mix of strong plain flour, sea salt, butter, and cold water, is made by layering grated or smeared butter between sheets of rolled out dough.
Rose Prince, food writer and journalist, has these tips: keep everything cool by using cold butter and iced water, and if possible work on a cold surface – marble is ideal; select your ingredients carefully – ordinary plain white flour and a good lightly salted butter.
Allow the dough to rest in the fridge once, for 30 minutes, during the process. If it is overworked, it will turn out like ordinary shortcrust pastry.
Before you start the long process of home-made traditional puff pastry, ensure that both the dough and butter are cold. Judge Paul Hollywood suggests it is “even worth chilling the flour” for his traditional puff pastry recipe.
The light-as-air texture texture is produced by wrapping a block of butter in a dough of flour, water, egg and butter, rolling and folding before chilling overnight twice – and repeating for up to seven times.
Unlike rough puff, where chunks of butter can be used, precision is important when rolling out the dough and layers of cold butter here. Bakers should repeat the process until all parts of the dough are covered with butter – no layer of dough should be left unturned. Chilling the dough between each roll helps to achieve a smooth and more uniform cover.
The basics of pastry, once perfected, opens the door for creativity in every corner – which is reflected in the recipes below. From a gorgeous white peach tarte tatin, pistou and spelt olive oil pastry to orange pastry, try your hand at the collection.