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When it comes to pastry I do not fare well. I’ve had it all – lumps and bumps, hard as nails, much shrinkage. I’ve tried pretty much every method and recipe going. Nearly frozen my hands off under the cold water tap in pursuit of the perfect pastry case, rolled out with the minimum contact, suffered a Siberian breeze through the kitchen. Used a knife, a cutter, a Kenwood or the food processor.

99.9% of the time it ends badly. I just can’t seem to crack it. I can make profiteroles, so this doesn’t make any sense. Choux pastry is meant to be one of the harder pastries to make, yet they turn out just fine. Mostly.

My mother makes fabulous pastry. Real melt in your mouth moments. Her apple pie is a marvel to behold. Clearly the ability to be cold of paw and light of touch is not passed down through the generations. Which is frustrating. I can use her recipe, make it with her standing next to me, and still she will turn to me and say, “I don’t understand. How on earth did that happen?” when I remove a wizened disc from the oven.

I’m determined to overcome this frustrating culinary deficit of mine. I want to be the sort of person who has spare pastry cases in the freezer, ready to whip out and fill with fridge leftovers upon the arrival of unexpected guests. I’d like my children to be able to say I make lovely pies and pastries (worry not, as I don’t yet have children, I have timetabled several years to practice any new found skills). At the rate I’m going, they’ll move in with Grandma during the formative jam tart years to prevent breaking all their teeth.

Help me out here. How do you make your pastry? What’s your secret?

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