How to bake pastry

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Basic equipment will have you baking in no time
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Knowing how to bake pastry is a helpful kitchen skill and impressive for guests

Pastry is a food item that just about everyone loves, but are scared to bake themselves. After all, that's what pastry chefs go to school for, right? Fortunately, however, you don't have to have a culinary degree to learn how to bake pastry.

With a little patience, the right tools and a positive attitude, you can create a drool-worthy pastry that will make even experienced chefs bow at your impressive feat.

Gather your baking equipment: scale, measuring spoons, baking sheets, bowls, rolling pin. You're ready to go!

From Scratch

Making and baking pastry from scratch is the best way to experience pastry. The dough will be fresh and because of that, oh-so-flavorful. However, when you're in a bind, a variety of high-quality, already made pastry dough is available, but pastry from scratch always tastes best.

Start by mixing 1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp. of shortening into 1 cup of unbleached flour, combined with tsp. of salt. A variety of flours are available, but using all-purpose flour is often what is called for. You can do this by using a pastry blender or mashing the shortening into the flour with a fork. You can also hold a butter knife in each hand and have the blades just about touch. Then make chopping motions with the knifes and work them away from each other.

Continue mixing the ingredients until they are just blended. If you mix too much, the flour will become tough which will result in less than light pastry. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of water while kneading if the mixture becomes too dry.

Use your hands to work the dough into a flat disc. Cover the dough with plastic wrap, then place it in the fridge for about 45 minutes. Doing so makes the dough less sticky when you go to roll it out.

Place a terry cloth on top of your cutting board and secure it with masking tape. Additionally, cover your rolling pin with a stockinette. You may find a steel rolling pin is less sticky and won't adhere to the dough. Use your hands to rub flour all over both pieces of fabric. Doing so prevents the dough from sticking.

Begin to roll out your dough, start from the center and work your way out. Depending on what you are making, you can roll the dough out into a circle, square, rectangle or whatever your dish calls for.

If you are making pie, you'll need to place the dough on top of the pie dish. This can be a daunting task, since you risk tearing the dough during the process. To reduce your risk of breaking the dough, fold your dough into fourths, then place it in the baking dish.

You can also roll the dough around the rolling pin to transfer the dough to the baking dish. This method is typically easier, because the dough can still tear when it is unfolded. Keep in mind, however, that the more you handle the dough, the warmer it becomes and the more easy it can tear.

Baking the Pastry

Once you have finished forming your pastry and have completed working with it, it's time to place it in the oven. Depending on what pie you are creating or what type of stuffed pastry you're making, you may need to fill the dough either before you cook the dough or after simply follow your recipe.

Additionally, the time to cook your pastry typically depends on what you are making. For instance, pie crusts and stuffed pastries will likely require different amounts of time, as well as oven temperatures, until they are finished baking. Therefore, it's best to follow the recipe for the most delicious results.

Knowing how to bake pastry gives you a tool for making a variety of delectable concoctions that are perfect for breakfast, dessert, appetizers, entrees or just tasty snacks. Don your chef hat and go ahead and get your pastry on!


Better Homes and Gardens: How to Make a Pastry Chef's Signature Recipe

Betty Crocker: How to Make Pastry Dough

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