Today, 9th December 2015 is National Pastry Day – and so I have made pastry. Not only have I made pastry, but I have made it three ways. Three pastries for the price of one!
Pastry is like playing with play-dough. After you’ve had a bit of fun squishing, rolling, patting, shaping – you put it in the oven and hey presto – pastry. It’s a play-dough you can eat.
Of course it is not play-dough. It’s a complex science of physics, chemistry and takes years to master. In the past, I have pushed myself to learn pastry: puff, sweet, and shortcrust. But, hey, these days they sell it ready-made. So I rarely go to the trouble of making from pastry from scratch. It allows more time to experiment with the pastry dough.
The recipe I followed for palmiers was by Michel Roux. I realised that it must be the granulated sugar and icing sugar that gives the palmiers their crunch, sweetness and glaze, so I put the other pastries through the same process. I added nuts and cinnamon for the swirls. The pain au chocolats were rolled in the same mix of sugars and then rolled around chocolate. It is very rewarding to start-off with a bit of learned methodology but then go freestyle. My ‘three ways’ idea gives a very satisfying end result without any wastage – all from one roll of pastry. This approach to baking would make a good kitchen session with children. Let them experiment and try new fillings – but don’t use real play-dough!