5 Classic Pastry Doughs & Their Uses
Dough you know your dough?
From buttery puff pastry to light and fluffy choux pastry, pastry doughs vary from one kind to the next, and are suited to different kinds of baked goods. Who knows? By the end of this article, you might even attempt making pain au chocolat from scratch.
Ah, puff pastry. Pure golden, buttery goodness with endless layers of laminated dough. Made with butter, flour and water, puff pastry is characterised by its indulgent crisp and flaky layers. Beef Wellington, puff pastry tarts, pastry twists and pie crust tops are just some of the savoury recipes puff pastry is used for. You might also have tried puff pastry in sugary delights such as Mille-feuille and slab pies.
TATLER TIP: Croissants are not made from puff pastry, despite their many layers; the iconic crescent-shaped bread also contains yeast and milk, which makes them bread-like and softer.
One of the simplest pastry doughs to master, shortcrust pastry does not require lamination and can be made by simply kneading butter, flour and water. All the dough requires is to be chilled in the refrigerator before being moulded into any tart or pie crust. Crumbly and buttery, shortcrust pastry is largely used in tart shells, pies and quiches.
Due to its versatility, shortcrust pastry is used globally, such as in Portuguese empanadas (filled pockets of pastry) and even in Malaysian curry puffs.
Sweet Shortcrust Pastry
Shortcrust pastry's sweeter sister has the addition of egg yolks and sugar, which gives it a richer and sweeter quality. This pastry dough can be found in sweet tarts and pies, such as lemon meringue and apple pie. Sweet shortcrust is also used in galettes, pop-tarts and hand pies.
Originating from the Middle East, phyllo pastry is found in desserts such as baklava (a dessert filled with chopped nuts and honey), mesh om ali (phyllo milk pie) and shaabiyat (cream filled pastry). Made from oil rather than butter, phyllo pastry is thin, flaky and much more delicate than puff pastry. It can also be found in phyllo pies, usually with fillings such as goat cheese, spinach and beetroot. The paper-thin pastry is also used in other cuisines, such as Indian samosas and Greek spanakopita (spinach pie).
Everyone's guilty pleasure, choux pastry can be found in an abundance of cream-filled pastries, such as éclairs, profiteroles and cream puffs. Made from flour, water, butter and eggs, choux pastries puff up in the oven due to the steam trapped within. Their fluffy and airy texture makes them the perfect shell for cream and custard, as demonstrated by Paris-Brests (choux pastries filled with a praline cream). You might be surprised to know that doughnuts, beignets and churros are made by frying choux pastry.