Pastry is dough of flour, water and shortening that may be savoury or sweetened. A sweetened pastry is often described as bakers' confectionery. The word "pastries" suggests many kinds of baked products made from ingredients such as flour, sugar, milk, butter, shortening, baking powder, and eggs. Small tarts and other sweet baked products are also known as pastries. The French word pâtisserie is also used in English (with or without the accent) for the same foods. Common pastry dishes include pies, tarts, quiches and pasties.
Pastry can also refer to the pastry dough, from which such baked products are made. Pastry dough is rolled out thinly and used as a base for baked products.
Pastry is differentiated from bread by having a higher fat content, which contributes to a flaky or crumbly texture. A good pastry is light and airy and fatty, but firm enough to support the weight of the filling. When making a shortcrust pastry, care must be taken to blend the fat and flour thoroughly before adding any liquid. This ensures that the flour granules are adequately coated with fat and less likely to develop gluten. On the other hand, overmixing results in long gluten strands that toughen the pastry. In other types of pastry such as Danish pastry and croissants, the characteristic flaky texture is achieved by repeatedly rolling out dough similar to that for yeast bread, spreading it with butter, and folding it to produce many thin layers.
Shortcrust pastry is the simplest and most common pastry. It is made with flour, fat, butter, salt, and water to bind the dough. This is used mainly in tarts. It is also the pastry that is used most often in making a quiche. The process of making pastry includes mixing of the fat and flour, adding water, and rolling out the paste. The fat is mixed with the flour first, generally by rubbing with fingers or a pastry blender, which inhibits gluten formation by coating the gluten strands in fat and results in a short (as in crumbly; hence the term shortcrust), tender pastry. A related type is the sweetened sweetcrust pastry, also known as pâte sucrée, in which sugar and egg yolks have been added (rather than water) to bind the pastry.
Flaky pastry is a simple pastry that expands when cooked due to the number of layers. It bakes into a crisp, buttery pastry. The "puff" is obtained by the shard-like layers of fat, most often butter or shortening, creating layers which expand in the heat of the oven when baked.
Puff pastry has many layers that cause it to expand or "puff" when baked. Puff pastry is made using flour, butter, salt, and water. The pastry rises up due to the water and fats expanding as they turn into steam upon heating. Puff pastries come out of the oven light, flaky, and tender.
Choux pastry is a very light pastry that is often filled with cream. Unlike other types of pastry, choux is in fact closer to dough before being cooked which gives it the ability to be piped into various shapes such as the éclair and profiterole. Its name originates from the French choux, meaning cabbage, owing to its rough cabbage-like shape after cooking. This pastry can be filled with various flavours of cream and is often topped with chocolate. Choux pastries can also be filled with ingredients such as cheese, tuna, or chicken to be used as appetizers.
Phyllo is a paper-thin pastry dough that is used in many layers. The phyllo is generally wrapped around a filling and brushed with butter before baking. These pastries are very delicate and flaky.
Hot water crust pastry is used for savoury pies, such as pork pies, game pies and, more rarely, steak and kidney pies. Hot water crust is traditionally used for making hand-raised pies. The usual ingredients are hot water, lard and flour, the pastry is made by heating water, melting the fat in this, bringing to the boil, and finally mixing with the flour. Hand-raised hot water crust pastry does not produce a neat and uniform finish, as there will be sagging during the cooking of the filled pie, which is generally accepted as the mark of a hand-made pie.