Making pastry - soft butter or cold

(25 Posts)
TheSteveMilliband Mon 12-Aug-13 21:57:33

Pastry is something I've always struggled with. It shrinks, it's not properly crisp, too thick etc.
I tried michel roux's short crust which worked a bit better but unusually it specifies room temp butter rather than cold. Looking online, Delia does the same. I can't work out the rationale, and wonder what way is best? Why faff with cold if room temp is easier and works as well?
Any pastry queens (or indeed kings) have any advice for a novice?

I use cold, pastry is also best handled as little as possible.

The easiest way to make it is in the food processor so it isn't handled at all. It's also quickest and most consistent. Whizz fat with flour until it looks like breadcrumbs, add water and pulse until it comes together in a ball. Job done!

If you are struggling with shrinkage make sure you wrap your pastry and rest in the fridge for half an hour before rolling out.

Cold is supposed to stop the fats melting. I chop mine into little pieces cold. I also have very cold hands which helps. If I want nice short pastry I do half lard and half butter. Lard is really easy to rub in too.

TheSteveMilliband Mon 12-Aug-13 22:24:36

Thanks coola and kitten. I have tried chilling / food processing but maybe I overwork it....must try again. Can't understand roux /delia method, but it did seem to work. What temp,do you cook at?

Hot, around 200 - 220 depending on the contents. For pie, 200C

Cold. Used to rub my pastry by the back door.

Does that sound weird?

TheSteveMilliband Mon 12-Aug-13 22:32:52

Ah, hotter than recipe I have. Am thinking it might shrink less if hotter ?

TheSteveMilliband Mon 12-Aug-13 22:33:53

Exit, just a little wink

Mintyy Mon 12-Aug-13 22:35:52

Cold is best for pastry. It takes longer to rub the butter in to the flour, but is worth it imo. You will need a bit of water for shortcrust - that should be iced. And if you have time, rest it in the fridge for an hour before rolling.

I have very cold hands by nature and make excellent pastry grin

<if I say so myself yada yada>

Mintyy Mon 12-Aug-13 22:36:50

Light touch for pastry. Don't overwork it or knead it at all. Go quickly. It will all be fine.

Arisbottle Mon 12-Aug-13 22:37:00

Cold, I put mine in the freezer , cubed for about 15 mins.

ILoveAFullFridge Mon 12-Aug-13 22:38:39

Butter from fridge is too hard IME, butter at room temp is too soft in the summer. Rest of the year it's fine. Possibly this is because I uses Kenwood Chef, which has a mixer thingy rather than chopping blades quizzing around. Water shd be cold. IIRC, cold butter is fine with tap water, but room temper butter works better with water that has bben in the fridge for a while. Wrap pastry closely in cleaving pastry to rest

If you make it in the food processor use pulse rather than constant whizz and stop the second you hit crumb, and then the second it forms up.

Wrap in film, straight into the fridge for 30 mins, then roll without any further working and bake in a hot oven.

ILoveAFullFridge Mon 12-Aug-13 22:41:16

Cling film and leave to rest in fridge for 1h - 2 days before rolling it out. Only cut off and roll out what you think you'll need, eg 2/3 for pie dish, rather Han handling and rerolling it all. The re-rolled bits are far more likely to shrink.

Rinse hands in cold water for a few minutes if you're feeling hot before handl

ILoveAFullFridge Mon 12-Aug-13 22:41:39

ing the dough.

ILoveAFullFridge Mon 12-Aug-13 22:42:54

(WTF? confused No idea what happened to my post.)

TheSteveMilliband Mon 12-Aug-13 22:45:25

Will def.try again, food processor on pulse and cold butter (will try freezer trick thanks). Seem to remember a recipe (may have been for a shortbread style pastry) where you cut out rounds, put them in flan dish and kind of squished them together ( I guess stops the dough from stretching).

MisForMumNotMaid Mon 12-Aug-13 22:46:34

I soft freeze and then grate my butter.

Agree with what others say about resting infridge for an hour.

TheSteveMilliband Mon 12-Aug-13 22:47:03

I love, I fear I may have hot hands! Will give cold water wash a try. Lots of tips here, thanks everyone

TheSteveMilliband Mon 12-Aug-13 22:48:27

I love, hadn't thought of using a mixer, what attachment do you use / does it crumb easily?

Sparklyboots Mon 12-Aug-13 22:56:23

I have hot hands and for a low-fi option cut the butter into the flour with a bluntish knife. I also run the tap so the water is cold cold rather than just out of the cold tap cold. I use the knife til the last possible moment and only really put my hands on it to test then transfer between bowl and board.

My dad was a baker and pastry would just relax when he walked in the room.

InMyShreddies Mon 12-Aug-13 22:56:48

I use butter straight from fridge and grate it into flour - rub in with fingertips, moving quickly and feeling only the flour not any grease. I'm not good at much but hot damn my pastry is sublime.

Sparklyboots Mon 12-Aug-13 22:58:36

Oh yeah! If you have a kitchenaid or similar, you can soften cold butter in it without it getting hot, perfect for working into pastry....

AmberLeaf Mon 12-Aug-13 22:59:03

I also freeze butter then grate it.

I keep a couple of blocks ready in the freezer.

ILoveAFullFridge Mon 12-Aug-13 23:11:55

I don't like grating butter, otherwise I would use it straight from fridge.

For shortcrust-type pastry the K-beater is perfect for rubbing-in fat & flour (also makes brilliant crumble topping - I never do that by hand any more) and then I may switch to the dough hook, depending on how it's feeling. For more doughy pastry, eg suet crust, I go straight in with the dough hook, no rubbing in.

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