Pastry refers to different kinds of baked food items that are prepared from the ingredients like milk, shortening, flour, butter, eggs and baking powder. Pastry dishes can include small cakes, sweet tasting baked confections, tarts and tortes. The term ‘pastry’ may also refer to the dough shell which is used in the making of baked goods. Some common pastry dishes are tarts, quiches and pies. A pastry recipe is easily distinguishable from a bread since it has a higher content of fat and tends to have a crumbly or flaky texture. Ideally a pastry is marked by its fattiness, light weight and airy feel. However, the pastry shell must be firm enough to support the filling inside it. There is not any one pastry recipe but several as there are different types of pastry available and the common ones are strudel (a kind of phyllo or filo pastry), short crust pastry, flaky or rough puff pastry, choux pastry and puff pastry. The difference in these pastries is brought out by the kind of wheat flour used in their preparation alongside the type of fat of used.
History of Pastry Recipe:
The creation of pastry dates back to the ancient Mediterranean times and the first pastry recipe is believed to be the baklava, a multi-layered paper-thin filo pastry. The making of pastry dishes gained popularity in Medieval Europe after the Crusaders brought back home these recipes. Since then, Europe has a rich tradition of creating short crust pastry recipe with flaky dough, an idea borrowed from the Mediterranean. Thus, the filo-style pastries have been a part of the rich culinary tradition amongst the Greeks, Phoenicians and Romans. During Renaissance, the choux and puff pastry varieties used to be made by the French and Italian chefs. Even the ancient Egyptians made pastry – like confections and they also had professional bakers who were skilled to create a pastry recipe with required amount of ingredients like flour, honey and oil. Fruit filled pastries were commonly made by them. The Romans have a history of making pastries with flour, water and oil for covering fowls and meats. However, these pastries were merely meant to preserve the juice of the meat and weren’t meant to be eaten. The pastry dishes which were meant to be relished had a richer texture, contained eggs, were small in size and had very little bird meat. Moreover, these pastry foods were reserved for banquets. While the Romans initially struggled with their pastry making because of the usage of oil which caused the dough to lose its stiffness, the introduction of butter and lard in the Medieval North Europe, made the pastry recipe easier for them. These early pastry confections were better known as ‘huff paste’ or ‘coffins,’ which were without any filling and occasionally glazed with egg yolk and meant as a food for the servants. Tarts are believed to have evolved during the Medieval European times and only to enrich the existing snack. However, it wasn’t until the middle of the 16th century, that real pastry dishes started to show up. These 16th century pastries became quite popular and spread to the Portugal and Russia, from where evolved the popular pastry traditions of Russian "pirozhky” and Portuguese "pastéis de nata" were started. Chocolate was brought into the pastry recipe tradition of Europe by the Portuguese and Spanish traders from the New World. New pastry dishes were introduced by the chefs in the 17th and 18th centuries. The pastry recipe varieties to have gained popularity during this time were Napoleons, brioche, éclairs and cream puffs. Pastry making became an art after it was incorporated by its creator Antonin Careme, who was a renowned French chef. Asia also has a strong tradition of pastry making. Chinese pastry dishes are usually made of rice or different kinds of flours with sesame, sweet bean paste or fruit fillings. The Far East was influence by the western style pastry recipe in the 19th century introduced there by the British people. However, the French influenced Maxim pastries influenced the Chinese pastry making tradition in a more significant way. In Korea, pastry dishes like yaksi, hangwa and tteok are made from fruits, rice, flour and region specific ingredients. The Japanese pastries are better known as manju and mochi.
Ingredients Used and Popular Methods of Preparation of Pastry Dishes:
Pastry making is considered a creative activity and specialized art for which one needs to master special techniques. The most basic and common thing used in any pastry recipe is the dough which is generally prepared with flour, water, fat and salt. This dough is then rolled out to form a base or an envelope, which is then stuffed with savory fillings. Flour is the most important ingredient in pastry making which contributes to the crisp and light feel of the confection. Often yeast is added in some pastries or self-raising dough is used. The next most important ingredient is the fat, which could be butter, lard, vegetable fat, suet or margarine or a combination to contribute a richer texture and flavor. The liquid in the form of water or milk or egg is to bind the ingredients. Salt and sugar are for taste while the flavorings like spices, herbs, cheese, nuts and various essences add to the aroma as well as taste of the pastry dishes. After the ingredients are combined or blended to mixture, it is baked and in some recipes, pastry glazing forms the next step where the confection is given an artistic finish with buttercream or fondant icing.
Serving and Eating Pastry Dishes:
If the pastries contain vegetable or meat as fillings and have a salty taste, they are generally served in the starter course along with a soup or a dip for accompaniment, depending on the recipe. However, if the pastries are sweet, they are traditionally served for dessert, at the end of a meal.
Health and Nutrition Facts of Pastry Recipe:
Since, pastry comes laden with high fat it can lead to weight gain and raise cholesterol levels in the blood with continuous consumption. Pastry: Trivia The nursery rhyme "Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie" gets its inspiration from the 7th century European pastry recipes when, live frogs, rabbits and birds were filled into pies and presented during special banquets.