Posts Tagged ‘how to make pastry’

Recipe For Sweet Pastry Per Pierre Hermé

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

Having been given a great sweet tart pastry recipe by Anthony Stern from Independent Foods, I have recently come across an even better Sweet Tart Dough in Pierre Hermé’s book “Chocolate Desserts”.  I must admit to being given the heads up about the wonders of Hermé’s Sweet Pastry from Chubby Hubby’s blog in February 2010.  Here’s the recipe from the book, amended into British english:


285g / 10 oz unsalted butter (at room temperature)
150g / 5¼ oz icing sugar, sieved (in US, confectioners’ sugar)
100g / 3 ¼ oz finely ground almonds (it is worth giving ground almonds from the supermarket an extra whizz in the food processor to grind them down a little bit further)
½ tsp sea salt (don’t ruin the pastry with a cheap industrial free flow salt)
½ tsp pure vanilla extract (use Steenbergs if you can – highly biased viewpoint, so sorry)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten (at room temperature)
490g / 17¼ oz plain flour (in US all-purpose flour), sieved

1.  Place the butter in the bowl of a mixer or food processor with paddle fixture and beat/pulse until creamy, scraping down the edges as needed.

2.  Add the sieved icing sugar and process until well mixed in.  Next, you need to add the ground almond powder, sea salt and pure intense vanilla extract, and process until smooth.  Scrape the bowl’s sides if you need to.  Now add the eggs and process to blend.

3.  Add the plain flour in three parts and pulse/mix until the dough mixture starts to get together.  Whatever you do, you mustn’t overblend this and you should stop as it starts to form together into a ball.

4.  Remove the sweet pastry dough and divide into thirds, shape each third into a ball and put each into a plastic bag, then flatten it.  If using soon, let it settle in the fridge for at least 2 hours, but preferably longer.  Freeze the rest and use within a month.  When starting from the frozen pastry medallions, it takes about 45 minutes before the dough is ready for rolling out.

5.  To make the pastry crust, take a 24cm tart ring (9 – 10 inch) and lightly oil or butter it.

Sweet Pastry Disc Ready To Roll

Sweet Pastry Disc Ready To Roll

6.  Lightly flour a surface and a rolling pin, then roll out the pastry medallion, working it in each direction to ease the shape out into a very rough & ready circular shape.  Take up the rolled sweet pastry dough and layer it over the tart dish.  Prick all over the surface – I actually only do a triangle in the centre to prevent it bobbling up, but you should do more, or so the experts say.  Patch any tears or thin areas with extra pastry that can simply be worked into the dough in the dish.  Chill it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

7.  Preheat the oven to 180oC / 350oF.

8.  Now line the crust.  The proper way to do this as all the greats tell you from Delia Smith through to Pierre Hermé is to fit a circle of baking paper into the crust and fill it with dried beans or rice.  I am lazy and I cheat – I scrunch up some aluminium foil, roll it into a roundish length and shape it around the edge of the pastry crust to keep the edges shaped and upright.

Sweet Pastry Dough Lining Tart Dish

Sweet Pastry Dough Lining Tart Dish

9.  Bake the crust for 18 – 20 minutes until it is lightly coloured.  If you need to fully bake the crust, remove the parchment and beans and bake for another 3 – 5 minutes until golden, but if you’ve cheated with aluminium in a round then the centre should have baked as well already, and you don’t need this extra baking time.

10.  Cool on a cooling rack for use later, and at least within 8 hours of baking.

Baked Pie Crust With Nutella Filling

Baked Pie Crust With Nutella Filling

Recipe – French Tomato Tart

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

The other day my parents visited from Northumberland, and as it was a gorgeous sunny Thursday, I plucked up the courage to try one of David Lebovitz’s recipes.  It’s always a matter of bravery as I am in awe at other people’s ability to make seemingly perfect pastry as mine rarely seems to meet the challenge adequately, or perhaps I am just constantly craving for an unachievable better taste. 

This particular pastry was a lot wetter than those I am normally used to, but it came out a wonderful rich and flakey texture that was just perfect.  As always, my available ingredients and equipment did not match the original recipe, but they seemed to work pretty well, so here is my annotated recipe. 

This is great summer food and works in the same flavour bracket as my Summer Vegetable Tart, which is one of my stock in trade recipes; I found it in a newspaper so long ago that I have lost the original clipping and cannot even remember who to thank (so thank you whoever created the original recipe).


For the pastry

210g (7½ oz) Organic plain flour, sieved
½ teaspoon Natural sea salt, sieved with plain flour
125g (4½ oz) Unsalted butter, chopped into small cubes and softened
1 Free range egg, large
2 tablespoons Cold water

For the tomato filling

2 teaspoons Grainy mustard
2 – 3 Large ripe tomatoes, finely sliced
1 Small orange pepper or ½ a yellow sweet pepper
2 tablespoons Olive oil
1 teaspoon Sea salt and pepper or Steenbergs Perfect Salt seasoning
2 tablespoons Fresh thyme and chives, chopped finely
125g (4oz) Goat’s cheese, finely sliced

  1. Preheat the oven to 200oC / 390oF.
  2. You can use frozen shortcrust or puff pastry or make your own as we do here in this recipe.  Firstly, you need to sieve together the organic plain flour and the sea salt.  Next put in the softened butter cubes and rub with your fingertips into the organic plain flour until you get to a breadcrumbs’ consistency.
  3. In a separate bowl, add together the cold water and the free range egg.  Whisk together lightly and then tip into the plain flour mixture and stir together using a knife.  This pastry is a pretty damp, glutinous mixture.
    Making Pate Brisee

    Making Pastry - Pouring In Egg/ Water Mix


    Rolling Out The Pastry

    Rolling Out The Pastry

  4. I then quickly greased two 15cm wide flan dishes, then rolled out the pastry and lined each of the flan dishes, using my fingers to get the pastry into the edges.  I kept a little bit of the pastry over the edges of the flan dish, cutting off the remnants and letting the kids eat those – you could use them to make some extra mini tarts or save them for later.  Spread the mustard evenly over the pastry base and then put this in oven to start the baking process for about 10 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, I sliced the tomatoes and goat’s cheese thinly and prepared the orange peppers by chopping them into smallish pieces.  I picked some fresh herbs from the garden and chopped these finely.
  6. Remove the part-baked pastry from the oven and then arrange over this the chopped tomatoes, sprinkle over the chopped colourful pepper and fresh herbs, plus the salt and pepper or Steenbergs organic Perfect Salt seasoning.  Drizzle over the olive oil, then arrange the goat’s cheese over the top.

    Drizzling Olive Oil Over Tomatoes

    Drizzling Olive Oil Over Tomato Tart

  7. Cook for 20 – 25 minutes in the oven.
  8. You can either serve this warm or (as I prefer) cold with new potatoes and salad.
Cooked French Tomato Tart

French Tomato Tart

Recipe – Sweet Tart Dough or Sweet Pastry

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

I am not very good at making pastry.  Some people say that you need cold hands to make pastry and dough, but I have warm hands as I seem always to be burning away all that food – perhaps I just never sit still or my metabolism runs too fast. 

So I asked our good friend, Anthony Sterne to come up with his easy pastry recipes and then for us to have a go at them ourselves.  Anthony used to be a development chef at Pret A Manger in London before setting out on his own, originally making pies and pastry with exotic fillings and has now branched out into quiches and (very successfully) into delicious cakes.  His business is called Independent Foods – originally I’s Pies – and his great creations are available in Booths, Morrisons and Waitrose, but in our opinion should be more widely available.  You can check his web site out at

In Anthony’s words “this recipe creates a crisp, biscuity pastry that is perfect as a base for tarts or mince pies.  As long as the oven is well preheated it generally works really well without blind baking.  The most important consideration is to make sure all the ingredients are at room temperature (especially the butter and eggs) before starting.”

400g / 14oz plain flour
160g / 5.5oz good butter (softened)
140g / 5oz caster Sugar
2 large eggs (we only ever use free-range)
1 tsp Steenbergs Organic Vanilla Extract 

Use an electric mixer with the beater attachment or a bowl and a wooden spoon to cream the butter and caster sugar together.  The mixture should be light in colour and slightly fluffy in texture.

Beat the eggs and add gradually with the teaspoon of Steenbergs Organic Fairtrade vanilla extract, mixing all the time.  If the mixture starts to split, you can add a tablespoon of flour, however it shouldn’t split as long as everything isn’t too cold.

Once all the egg has been incorporated, you can add the flour and continue to mix until a smooth dough is formed.  The pastry should be soft but not sticky, if it sticks to your finger when poked just add a bit more flour.

You can leave the pastry in a cool place (not the fridge) for half an hour to relax although it is fine to use it straight away.  Roll out on a well floured surface.  It doesn’t keep well in the fridge as it becomes hard and unworkable although any excess is fine to make into shells and freeze for later use.