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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

flaky pastry

Flaky Pastry
2 c flour -- white, whole wheat, or a combination of the two
1/2 tsp Celtic sea salt
2/3 c cold butter
10 Tbs iced water
chilled metal or glass bowl
cold or cool hands, or a less-than-hot kitchen, if at all possible
no distractions
rolling pin -- if using marble, chill it for 15 minutes in the freezer along with your bowl
butter cutter -- some call this a pastry cutter. you may use two table knives instead.

1. Combine flours and salt in cold metal bowl.
2. Add cold butter, taken directly from the fridge, in chopped tablespoon amounts to the flour. Chop or cut in, avoiding using fingers to do so, until butter looks crumbed. See this picture? The butter is not in fine crumbs! I actually want some larger lumps so that the pastry is flaky and good and does not ball up with the water into one smooth dough. It needs to have texture or it won't be flaky once cooked.

3. Add iced water, 2 Tbs at a time, into the flour and toss in with spoon or spatula. You may find you only need 8 or 9 Tbs water. In Arizona I find I need 10 Tbs, but in England I only need 8. It should stick together somewhat, with lots of crumble, but it will not resemble a ball of dough at this point. Work quickly, still avoiding using your fingers, to keep things cold.

 4. Tip out "dough" onto a clean, floured space. Be sure to have enough room to work unhampered. With quick, light motions and flat hands, start bringing in the floury mess to form a ball of dough. Again, it will look a little crumbly and definitely not smooth. This is good!

5. Divide dough into two parts. Smooth each into a nice roundness and set one aside. If your kitchen is warm, set it in the bowl in the fridge.

6. Start to roll out dough. Place rolling pin in the center of the lump. Roll away from you. Place it back in the center. Roll towards you. Flip and flour dough. Keep doing this pattern, working from the center of the dough towards the edge, to keep dough an even depth. Work as quickly and steadily as you can. This process will become faster and easier the more often you make pastry.

Be generous with your flour -- do not let dough stick to the rolling pin or the surface! Use flour as much as needed, both sides of the pastry, to keep things rolling out smoothly. Ignore lumps of butter and just keep working the dough.

To size the pastry, hover your pie dish (mine is deep dish here) over it. You want the edges of the rolled out pastry to come an inch beyond the widest edge of the circle.

Once you are ready and rolled, carefully fold pastry in half, and then half again. Place the point in the center of the dish and unfold. Or, if you have a good and long rolling pin, you can simply roll the dough onto the pin and then unroll it from one edge to the other of the pie dish. It should not need much adjustment to wiggle into the correct place in the dish. Simply lift and drop into place. Use a sharp knife or kitchen scissors to trim edges.

Now, you start thinking about fillings. You can use the above flaky pastry recipe for other savory pies, or for sweet pies. It is delightful with apple, chicken savory, quiche, strawberry rhubarb, even mini turnover style personal pies or sausage rolls to pack as picnic finger food. For recipes using this pastry, look under the "pastry" tab.

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