Today was bread making day and when use the oven, I don’t want to waste any energy and so I cook a few things at the same time using the same base ingredient. Today it was short crust pastry. It cooks at the same temperature as my bread, is filling and is cheap to make. Pastry has a bad reputation for being unhealthy, but we use it as our carbohydrate in a meal, and only have it a couple of times a week. It saves us so much money as pastry can stretch a meal to feed more people. An example is if you serve a chicken pie rather than a chicken dinner for Sunday lunch to a large family it will cost a lot less as you will not need as much chicken, and you can pad it out with vegetables and a sauce. No one will notice that it is a cheaper meal as it is still delicious and tasty.
I know a lot of people who buy pastry to save time but it is getting quite expensive now, and I prefer to make my own as I know which ingredients are in it (bought pastry often has palm oil in it), and it is super easy. This is the recipe that I use as I was taught it at school. There is a lot of controversy about the use of lard, but recent studies are showing that it is not as bad for you as it was once thought, and in fact it is better for you than a lot of other ‘modern’ fats, and can support a healthy heart. It was used all during World War 2 and that is the healthiest generation, is what I think, and as long as the pastry is used in moderation and filled with healthy ingredients I cannot see the harm. Using lard makes the pastry crisper but is also cheaper than other fats. One of my older relatives uses all lard, but I prefer the taste of some butter too. Butter is expensive but I make my own from reduced cream when I find it and freeze it in 50g blocks until I need it. We are still eating butter from discounted cream I bought on boxing day. I make my pastry by hand but some people use an electric mixer. I find it takes me more time to get out the machine and wash it up afterwards than it does to make it by hand, and also it uses precious energy, which is expensive now a days.
Pastry freezes well, either raw or cooked, and so it is a great ingredient for batch cooking and eating at a later time. Any left over pastry can be frozen and then defrosted and used later too. We cook pastry dishes in the air fryer if the oven is not on.
Short cut pastry recipe.
8oz plain flour
2oz butter or margarine.
Pinch of salt
- Put the flour into a large bowl.
- Cut the fat into small squares and add to the bowl.
- Using the tips of the fingers to keep the pastry cool, rub the fat into the flour until it resembles bread crumbs.
- Add the water a bit at a time until it forms a dough that is not sticky. Add more flour if it is sticky.
- Place in the fridge for 30 minutes before using if it is a warm day.
- When using the pastry roll it into a rectangle and cut out the shape that you need.
- If you are making an item like a pie or pastry put some milk or egg wash on the top to make the pastry look a more golden colour (this is not essential)
- Cook at 200C for 20 to 30 minutes (depending on the size of the item you have made) or until the pastry is crisp and golden brown.
5 Ideas for things to make with your pastry.
- Make a quiche using some eggs and milk and what ever you have in the fridge. Today I made some mini quiches with a few spring onions from the garden, a little bit of left over bacon, and some bits of cheese that had gone a bit hard. A quiche is a great way of using up things that you have in the garden or the fridge. In the past I have added things like peas, tuna, courgette, spinach, herbs and tomatoes. The more filling that you add, the less eggs that you will need.
- Sausage rolls. Some times I have sausage meat in the freezer, especially after Christmas, but other times I will just take the skin off some sausages and use the meat. My grandson loves these and they are great to pack up for Mr S when he is working, or to take on a picnic or if we are travelling. Sometimes I fill them with mash potato mixed with cheese and onion if I do not have any meat.
- Pies and pasties. These are a great way to use up left overs eg bolognaise, curry, chicken supreme etc. I just mix some potato or sweet potato with the leftovers so that it is not too runny in the pie or pasty. I always make pasties when we are travelling and will make them with anything that we have in the fridge. Our favourite is cooked sweet potato mixed with cooked onions, chorizo and tomato puree with smoked paprika. We found this recipe by accident as it was all we had in. Fruit pies and pasties are also good to make for dessert from foraged fruit or fruit in the garden. At this time of year I make a lot of rhubarb pie. In Autumn we will make a lot of bramble and apple. Our menu changes with what is in season.
- Jam tarts and lemon curds are an old fashioned dessert but I often make these with the remnants of the pastry. Some times if I am making lemon curds, I will make some meringue to put on top to make them a bit posher for guests.
- Tarts. If I do not have enough pastry to put a top on the pie I will make a lattice with the bits of pastry, or cook the base and the fruit separately and add the fruit when it is cool. It is a tart then and can be served with pastry or custard piped on top. We also make things like Manchester tart, chocolate and raspberry tart, caramel tarts or lemon meringue pie if we are entertaining family. These all look like expensive desserts but actually do not cost much to make.
What are your favourite things to make with pastry?