Ten ways to guarantee perfect pastry

Ten ways to guarantee perfect pastry

Step up your pie game with our top tips. No soggy bottoms here!

Step up your pie game with our top tips. No soggy bottoms here!

The recipe for pastry is so simple, only requiring a couple of ingredients, but it can still be a challenge. Even if you’ve been making your own pastry for years, soggy bottoms and tough crusts can afflict us all.

One of the main problems many of us run into is gluten. This is created when flour proteins bond with water, and it’s what makes pastry turn out tough. Follow our tips to inhibit gluten development, and other ways to a perfect pie.

And there’s no need to worry about clearing up afterwards. Fairy makes it a doddle to clean even the most encrusted pie dishes.

1. Be prepared

Before you start, gather everything you need around you so it’s all at hand. You need to work quickly, so having everything within reach can make all the difference. Being fast means less time for the fat to get too warm, which can make the pastry greasy or heavy.

2. Use quality ingredients

Get off to the best start by only using the best ingredients. This includes unbleached, untreated flour, unsalted butter and free-range eggs. Go organic if you can, for superior flavour and colour.

3. Keep cool

Adding water to flour forms gluten, but colder water is absorbed much less easily so work with everything cold. Keep ingredients in the fridge until you need them and use cold equipment. Cold hands help too – run them under a cold tap if you need to, and dry thoroughly before working with the dough.

4. Get grating

You already know about keeping everything cold. One ingenious way to achieve this is by freezing your butter and grating it into the flour. Doing this means you minimize the time you spend working the pastry, giving you a flakier, crumblier crust.

5. Acid attack

Adding water jumpstarts the formation of gluten, so add it drop by drop so you use as little as possible. You could also replace a dash of water with apple cider vinegar, as this will prevent the formation of gluten.

6. Hands off

Another gluten-forming culprit is pressure, so keep your working of the dough to an absolute minimum. Too much kneading will make it tough, so be as gentle as possible.

7. Chill out

Once the dough is ready, wrap it in cling film or greaseproof paper and put it back in the fridge to rest for at least half an hour. This will allow the glutens to relax, and will make it easier to roll out.

8. On a roll

Try using rice flour when you’re rolling out your pastry. It doesn’t contain or form gluten, so won’t contribute to toughness. No rolling pin? Use a chilled bottle of wine instead! Just wipe any condensation off first.

9. Dish up

Using the right dish for your pie is essential. Always use one made of metal for pies with a crust on the bottom. Earthenware and enamel are both fine if your pie only has a crust on top.

10. Blind baking

Not all recipes call for blind-baking, but if the filling is quite liquid and you want a crisp base, it’s a useful technique. Simply line the base of the pie with baking parchment and a layer of ceramic beans or dried pulses, and bake for about 15 minutes at 180C.

11. Kitchen confidential

You probably already do this without realising, but it’s important to know the quirks of your own oven. Some have ‘hot spots’ which means that bakes don’t cook evenly. If you’ve had it a while, it’s worth having it serviced and checking that the oven thermometer is working properly.

Do you have any foolproof baking tips or favourite fillings? Let us know in the comments below.

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Perfect pastry

sueal 13/04/2018

I love to make pies and puddings, do i buy pastry, No, its so easy to make yourself, i always grate my butter into the flour and use a knife to mix together with the water, it comes out light and flaky, i like to put my pastry in the fridge for as long as i can before baking it keep the butter cool and makes the pasty light. My favourite fillings are fruit blackberries being one of my tastiest and most liked pies and if you add a cooking apple thinly sliced this just adds to the glorious taste

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