How to cook with pastry

How to cook with pastry

How to cook with pastry

There are many different types of pastry, most are readily available to buy in the supermarket. Homemade pastry, when made properly is a real treat. Essentially an un-leavened bread dough with more fat, pastry can be difficult to master at first but is worth the investment. Many varieties have evolved over time from different parts of the globe, each with their own unique taste and texture. Here we give you an overview of the main types of pastry.

Types of pastry

Most pastry variants fit into one of five categories:

Choux pastry – a cooked dough, choux pastry is most commonly associated with profiteroles, chocolate éclairs and the delectable gougère. The name derives from the French word for cabbage, a reference to how the pastry looks when cooked. Choux pastry has a high water content, and the steam causes it to rise during cooking to form a crispy outer shell and hollow middle.

Puff pastry – this is made by wrapping dough around butter, rolling out and folding, known as laminating. This results in a pastry that rises in the oven, and is very light and flaky. Traditional dishes that use puff pastry are apple tarte Tatin, mille-feuilles and rustic pies.

Shortcrust pastry – a fairly simple pastry, just flour, butter, water and salt are required to make the dough, the trick to making this pastry is not to overwork the dough as this will make it tough. Sweet shortcrust pastry also comes into this category; sugar is added and eggs replace the water for a pastry that is used in desserts.

Filo pastry – traditionally used in Middle Eastern cuisine, filo pastry is very thin, normally brushed with butter and used in multiple thin layers for a wonderful crispy finish. Filo pies and baklava are favourite uses for filo, while feuille de brick pastry – filo's even thinner cousin – is used to make classic Turkish börek.

Hot water pastry – hot water pastry is normally used in hand-raised pies that require a firm crust such as pork pies and game pies. A mixture is made of flour, lard and hot water and moulded into the desired shape


Paul Heathcote demonstrates choux pastry at its finest with his Profiteroles with passion fruit cream and chocolate sauce, while Martin Wishart uses it in a savoury context in his Dauphine potatoes with crème fraîche.

For puff pastry recipes, look no further than Frances Atkins' Caramel mille-feuille for a dinner party dessert, Adam Gray's English quail and truffle pie for a decadent main course or Sally Abe's mid-week treat of Puff pastry pizzas.

Nathan Outlaw makes a fantastic chicken and mushroom pie with cheddar shortcrust pastry and Adam Stokes shows off the versatility of filo pastry with his Squid cornets with rosemary mayonnaise.

Emily Watkins keeps things traditional using hot water pastry in her Pork loin and black pudding wellington with Grandpa's cabbage.