Hey pastry, it’s not you, it’s me…
So, maybe I don’t suck at making pastry any more. Maybe it wasn’t the recipe after all, but my technique?
After deciding that I would conquer my pastry ineptitude, I have discovered that I quite enjoy making pastry and can actually achieve some quite good results. And I learned a lot along the way.
Pastry, at it’s heart, is flour, butter and water – so simple, but so easy to get wrong. Shortcrust pastry has a ratio of 2 parts flour to 1 part butter and puff pastry has a ratio of 1 part flour to 1 part butter and both use just enough water to bind them together. You would think that a recipe with so little ingredients would be so simple to make, but the real trick with pastry is the technique. It is all about the science.
Understanding the science behind making pastry definitely helps get the results. Knowledge is power.
Q. Why use cold butter and ice water?
Q. Why rest the pastry?
The answers to these questions and more can be found here…Caution – Science Content
So, with a little bit of knowledge behind me, I was able to look at pastry making in a whole different light. I had always looked at pastry as the least significant part of the recipe – just an edible container to hold the hero of the dish, but I have now come to appreciate that good pastry enhances a dish; adds to it; takes it to a new level.
With my new appreciation of pastry, I was able to embrace that part of a recipe instead of resenting it, and that then lead to much better pastry and a much better dish.
For my next little foray into pastry, I decided to concentrate on Flaky Pastry aka Rough Puff Pastry. Here is the result…
Poached Pears En Croute
6 Bosc Pears
6 cups Water
115gms Caster Sugar
2 Cinnamon Quills
1 tsp Vanilla Bean Paste
1 tbls Lemon Zest (grated or finely sliced)
2 tbls Lemon Juice
50gms Almond Meal
50gms Caster Sugar
50gms Butter, softened
1 tsp Lemon Zest finely grated
175gms Plain Flour
¼ tsp Cinnamon
175gm Butter Frozen
115ml Ice Water approximately
Poaching the Pears
Place water, sugar, cinnamon quills, vanilla bean paste, lemon zest and lemon juice in a saucepan over low heat. Stir occasionally until sugar is dissolved.
Remove pears from liquid and cool in fridge. Reserve the liquid.
Making the Pastry
Sift the flour, salt and cinnamon together twice.
Add the butter and flour to a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.
Run the processor and slowly add the water until the mixture just comes together. Test the consistency by squeezing a small amount together with your fingers. It should stick together, but not be too sticky.
Take pastry out of fridge and unwrap on a floured surface. Roll mixture one way until it forms a long rectangle and is approximately half a millimetre thick. Fold up the bottom third and then fold down the top third.
Turn the pastry 90⁰ and repeat the rolling and folding. Continue to roll and fold until you have completed it four times. On the final time, fold the top and bottom into the middle and then fold over like a book. Re-wrap in plastic and refrigerate for another 30 minutes.
Take the pastry out of the fridge and repeat the rolling and folding another two times – that is six times in total. Return the pastry to fridge for a further 30 minutes.
Making the Almond Filling
Combine the almond meal, caster sugar and butter in a bowl until creamy. Add the egg and lemon zest and mix until smooth.
Assembling the Pears
Preheat oven to 220⁰ Celsius.
Remove the pears from the refrigerator.
Fill the cavity (from the removal of the core) with the almond meal mixture and set aside.
Take the pastry from the fridge and divide into six pieces.
Roll out one piece of pastry to form a square. Sit one pear in the middle of the pastry square and pull up two opposite corners until they meet at the stalk. Press together to seal. Repeat with remaining pastry corners. Place on a tray. Repeat with remaining pears and pastry.
Brush pastry with a lightly beaten egg. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden.
Making the Syrup
Place two cups of the reserved poaching liquid in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer until syrup thickens.
Serve pears with syrup and Raspberry Crème Patissiere