If you’re looking for a food item which is both hearty and delicious, pastries come to mind for many. Popular around Christmas, there are many variations which come in all shapes and sizes, and even flavors! In their simplest form, they are comprised of dough with a type of filling. That filling could be made of meat, vegetables, or a mixture of both.
Pastries come in two types: laminated, and non-laminated. The difference lies in how fat is introduced to the recipe. Non-laminated pastry dough consists of fat which is either cut or rubbed into the flour, much like a pie. Laminated pastry dough is created when fat is repeatedly folded into the dough, using a technique called “lamination” (Duh! Or should I say “Dough!”). The pastry will then become light and puffy, similar to a croissant or strudel. Personally, I don’t care for that fancy type of dough- it’s more work-intensive, and leaves less time to EAT!
Pastry dough can consist of wheat flour, cornflour, or even chickpea flour. Be creative, and try mixing it up if you so desire. A key difference between genuine pastry dough and simple bread dough is the fact that the butter must be chilled, or very cold. Dough ingredients should be blended together, and the dough kneaded as little as possible. This helps the chilled butter keep the form of small chunks in the dough. The dough can then be rolled out to approximately 1 cm in thickness, and cut into circular shapes. If you’re having trouble finding the right shape, there’s bound to be something circular lying around- take a small plate, or a large cup- be creative! Cut these circular shapes from the dough using your cut-out, then place your filling in the center. Fold one edge of your circular dough to the other to help it keep its form, creating a half-moon shape. Press the edges with a fork or finger to seal it.
The filling can be comprised of anything you love to eat. Chicken, turkey, beef, pork.. I personally like them with fish, shrimp, or crab. But then again, I like almost everything! Pumpkin, spinach, leek, onion, courgette, mushrooms, even pre-cooked potatoes could go into your filling mash, to name a few. Some people prefer their filling to be made with green peas, or chunks of carrot. Others enjoy adding grated cheese, or perhaps some fresh parmesan. Spices such as curry and black pepper can also be added with ease.
Once you’ve created enough of your dough pastries, they’re ready to go into the oven. Place them on a large oven plate and bake to a nice golden brown. If the filling happens to be particularly wet, try poking tiny holes into your pastries while they are on the baking plate. This will help let out steam once they are in the oven, and prevent the pastry from becoming soggy. This is especially important to keep in mind with fats such as that found in pork or beef filling, as they have a tendency to produce mushy pastries. However, they still taste good!
I hope I managed to inspire you all, and that perhaps now you’re craving some delicious golden brown pastries to stuff yourself, and your friends and family with this holiday season!
Wishing you a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year,