PASTRY cannot be easily excluded from the menu of the New Englander. Who can dream of a Thanks-giving dinner without a pie! The last decade has done much to remove pies from the daily bill of fare, and in their place are found delicate puddings and seasonable fruits.
Puff paste, which to many seems so difficult of preparation, is rarely attempted by any except professionals. As a matter of fact, one who has never handled a rolling-pin is less liable to fail, under the guidance of a good teacher, than an old cook, who finds it difficult to overcome the bad habit of using too much force in rolling. It is necessary to work rapidly and with a light touch. A cold room is of great advantage.
For making pastry, pastry flour and the best shortenings, thoroughly chilled, are essential. Its lightness depends on the amount of air enclosed and expansion of that air in baking. The flakiness depends upon kind and amount of shortening used. Lard makes more tender crust than butter, but lacks flavor which butter, though some chefs prefer beef suet. Eggs and ice were formerly used, but are not essentials.
Rules for Washing Butter Scald and chill an earthen bowl. Heat palms of hands in hot water, and chill in cold water. By following these directions, butter will not adhere to bowl nor hands. Wash butter in bowl by squeezing with bands until soft and waxy, placing bowl under a cold-water faucet and allowing water to run. A small amount of butter may be washed by using a wooden spoon in place of the hands.
Puff paste should be used for vol-au-vents, patties, rissoles, bouchées, cheese straws, tarts, etc. It may be used for rims and upper crusts of pies, but never for lower crusts. Plain paste may be used where pastry is needed, except for vol-au-vents and patties.
Wash the butter, pat and fold until no water flies. Reserve two tablespoons of butter, and shape remainder into a circular piece one-half inch thick, and put on floured board. Work two tablespoons of butter into flour with the tips of fingers of the right hand. Moisten to a dough with cold water, turn on slightly floured board, and knead five minutes. Cover with towel, and let stand five minutes.
Pat and roll one-fourth inch thick, keeping paste a little wider than long, and corners square. If this cannot be accomplished with rolling-pin, draw into shape with fingers. Place butter on centre of lower half of paste. Cover butter by folding upper half of paste over it. Press edges firmly, to enclose as much air as possible.
Fold right side of paste over enclosed butter, the left side under enclosed butter. Turn paste half-way round, cover, and let stand five minutes. Pat, and roll one-fourth inch thick, having paste longer than wide, lifting often to prevent paste from sticking, and dredging board slightly with flour when necessary. Fold from ends towards centre, making three layers. Cover, and let stand five minutes. Repeat twice, turning paste half-way round each time before rolling. After fourth rolling, fold from ends to centre, and double, making four layers. Put in cold place to chill; if outside temperature is not sufficiently cold, fold paste in a towel, put in a dripping-pan, and place between dripping pans of crushed ice. If paste is to be kept for several days, wrap in a napkin, put in tin pail and cover tightly, then put in cold place; if in ice box, do not allow pail to come in direct contact with ice.
Baking of puff paste requires as much care and judgment as making. After shaping, chill thoroughly before baking. Puff paste requires hot oven, greatest heat coming from the bottom, that the paste may properly rise. While rising it is often necessary to decrease the heat by lifting covers or opening the check to stove. Turn frequently, that it may rise evenly. When it has risen its full height, slip a pan under the sheet on which paste is baking to prevent burning on the bottom. Puff paste should be baked on a tin sheet covered with a double thickness of brown paper, or dripping-pan may be used, lined with brown paper. The temperature for baking of patties should be about the same as for raised biscuit; vol-au-vents require less heat, and are covered for first half-hour to prevent scorching on top.
Roll puff paste one-quarter inch thick, shape with a patty cutter, first dipped in flour; remove centres from one-half the rounds with smaller cutter. Brush over with cold water the larger pieces near the edge, and fit on rings, pressing lightly. Place in towel between pans of crushed ice, and chill until paste is stiff; if cold weather, chill out of doors. Place on iron or tin sheet covered with brown paper, and bake twenty-five minutes in hot oven. The shells should rise their full height and begin to brown in twelve to fifteen minutes; continue browning, and finish baking in twenty-five minutes. Pieces cut from centre of rings of patties may be baked and used for patty covers, or put together, rolled, and cut for unders. Trimmings from puff paste should be carefully laid on top of each other, patted, and rolled out.
Roll puff paste one-third inch thick, mark an oval on paste with cutter or mould, and cut out with sharp knife, first dipped in flour. Brush over near the edge with cold water, put on a rim three-fourths inch wide, press lightly, chill, and bake. Vol-au-vents require for baking forty-five minutes to one hour. During the first half-hour they should be covered, watched carefully, and frequently turned. The paste cut from centre of rim should be rolled one-quarter inch thick, shaped same size as before rolling, chilled, baked, and used for cover to the Vol-au-vent.
Work lard into flour, first using knife then tips of fingers. Moisten to a dough with cold water, pat, and roll out same as Puff Paste. Dot paste with small pieces of butter, using one-third the quantity. Dredge with flour, fold from ends toward centre, then double, making four layers. Pat, and roll out. Repeat until butter is used. Roll, shape, chill, and bake in a hot oven.
Wash butter, pat, and form in circular piece. Add salt to flour, and work in lard with tips of fingers or case knife. Moisten to dough with cold water; ice-water is not an essential, but is desirable in summer. Toss on board dredged sparingly with flour, pat, and roll out; fold in butter as for puff paste, pat, and roll out. Fold so as to make three layers, turn half-way round, pat, and roll out; repeat. The pastry may be used at once; if not, fold in cheese-cloth, put in covered tin, and keep in cold place, but never in direct contact with ice. Plain paste requires a moderate oven. This is superior paste.
Wash butter. Mix salt with flour, put in chopping tray, add lard and butter, and chop until well mixed. Moisten to a dough with cold water. Toss on floured cloth (Magic Cover), pat, and roll out. Fold so as to make three layers, turn half-way round, pat, and roll out; repeat. Should the butter be too hard, it will not mix readily with the flour, in which case the result will be a tough crust. Omit lard, and use all butter, if preferred.
Mix salt with flour, cut in shortening with knife. Moisten to dough with cold water. Toss on floured board, pat, roll out, and roll up like a jelly roll. Use one-third cup of shortening if a richer paste is desired.
Mix salt with flour. Reserve one and one-fourth tablespoons lard, work in remainder to flour, using tips of fingers or a case knife. Moisten to a dough with water. Toss on a floured board, pat, and roll out. Spread with one tablespoon reserved lard, dredge with flour, roll up like a jelly roll, pat, and roll out; again roll up. Cut from the end of roll a piece large enough to line a pie plate. Pat and roll out, keeping the paste as circular in form as possible. With care and experience there need be no trimmings. Worked-over pastry is never as satisfactory. The remaining one-fourth tablespoon lard is used to dot over upper crust of pie just before sending to oven; this gives the pie a flaky appearance. Ice-water has a similar effect. If milk is brushed over the pie it has a glazed appearance. This quantity of paste will make one pie with two crusts and a few puffs, or two pies with one crust where the rim is built up and fluted.
Make same as Plain Paste. Roll to one-fourth inch in thickness, cut in finger-shaped pieces, bake, cool, brush over with slightly beaten white one egg diluted with one teaspoon cold water, and sprinkle with chopped nut meat seasoned with salt. Return to oven to slightly brown nut meats. Serve with salad course.
Put flour in bowl, add lard, and cut it in with knife. When finely chopped add water to make a very stiff dough, using as little as possible. Cut the butter into the dough leaving it in rather coarse pieces. Chill in icebox for several hours or over night. Place ball of paste on floured cloth, pat and roll out. Fold so as to make three layers, turn half way round, pat and roll out. Pat, roll and fold four times, shape and bake at once in hot oven.