Flour Based Products


Pastry was originally made by the Egyptians. They made a flour and water paste to wrap around meat to soak up the juices as it cooked. Pastry was developed in the Middle East and it was brought to Europe by the Muslims in the 7th century. By medieval times local areas had their own puddings and pies. In the 17th century both flaky and puff pastries were used, and intricate patterns on the pies were a work of art.

This is a French speciality used for cream buns, chocolate eclairs and profiteroles. The feather-light pastry surrounds a large cavity which is filled with cream. The butter is boiled with a water/milk mix and then flour is added to it. This mixture is then beaten and eggs are added. The mixture is put in a forcing bag, and placed as rounds or lengths on a baking tray before being baked in a hot oven. When cool, the pastry is pierced to let out the steam.
The pastry is often cut and filled with cream.

It is delicious when filled with cream flavoured with essence – orange, coffee, caramel or chocolate. Chocolate can be used as icing.

Leaved pastries are traditionally found in many parts of the world – Europe, the Mediterranean, the Middle East and China. All leaved pastries (apart from puff pastry) are made from a sheet of dough that is as thin as tissue paper – so thin you can read through it.

Traditionally, the dough is made by hand by gently rolling, stretching or pressing it into very thin sheets. Now we can buy it ready made.

In New Zealand it is sold as filo (or phyllo) pastry. Before baking, the dough is brushed with butter or oil. It is then used in different ways depending on the recipe. It can be cut into sheets and layered in a tin, cut to make individual rolls or rolled up as one large roll.

The pastry is filled with all sorts of delicious fillings – either sweet or savoury – for entrees, mains or desserts. These can include fruit, nuts and honey, meat or cheese and spinach. Popular recipes are traditional strudel from Austria, baklava from the Mediterranean, borek from the Middle East and spring rolls from China.

Puff pastry is a light, flaky and tender pastry made by mixing flour, water and salt into a dough and adding layers of fat. It is used to make pies, pasties, vol au vents, savouries and desserts.

There are many ways of making puff pastry. The aim is to produce a paste with many alternating layers of dough and fat which rise and form a layered pastry when baked. Specialist bakers and pastry cooks have their own way of making puff pastry. They use different proportions of butter and flour, and differ in the way they incorporate the butter and the number and type of folds they make to the pastry.

Yeasted pastries are light flaky pastries that are crisp on the outside, but soft and tender on the inside. The dough, which has yeast added, is layered with fat, so this pastry is a cross between bread and pastry.

Examples of yeasted pastries include croissants and Danish pastries. Croissants are made in a horseshoe shape, and are traditionally eaten warm filled with butter and jam for breakfast.

Yeasted pastries are a delicious product that originated in Europe, where they are traditionally eaten in the morning freshly baked and still warm. They are a cross between bread and puff pastry and so they should be crisp on the outside, like puff pastry, and soft and tender inside, like bread, and should melt in your mouth, leaving no aftertaste. Two types of yeasted pastries are commonly eaten in New Zealand: Danish pastries and croissants.

However, in New Zealand we eat them any time of the day with all sorts of fillings. Danish pastries are found in all sorts of shapes, such as swirls and figures of eight. They are always sweet and can have a filling, such as custard, and icing on top, making a delicious snack or dessert.

Croissants are thought to have originated in Austria. In 1683 when the Turks were secretly digging tunnels under Vienna to make a surprise attack on the city they were heard by the bakers working early in the morning. The bakers who raised the alarm and saving Vienna from being defeated by the Turks, then baked a special commemorative roll in the shape of the crescent on the Turkish flag. Marie Antoinette, a French princess, introduced the roll to France where it became known as the croissant, the French word for crescent.

Over the years the croissant developed into the product we know today. Because croissants are time-consuming and expensive to produce by hand, they were not widely eaten. Recently new technologies have been developed that allow less expensive, efficient, mass production of this delicious cereal product.

Croissants are made from a sweet yeasted paste (unbaked pastry) layered with fat. Nowadays they are eaten at any time of the day and can be filled with all sorts of delicious savoury or sweet fillings. They may also be pre-filled with delicious fillings such as chocolate, fruit or almond paste.

Little is known about the history of Danish pastries. They are popular throughout Europe and the USA. In different countries they have different names: the Danish call them Wienerbrod (Vienna bread, after the Austrian capital) and the Austrians call them Kopenhagener (Copenhagen, after the Danish capital). They were introduced to America by bakers from Denmark.

Like croissants, Danish pastries are made from yeast-leavened sweet dough layered with butter or margarine. They are not kneaded for as long as croissants so they will have a softer mouthfeel and will be more tender. They can have all sorts of fillings and/or toppings, such as nuts and fruits

Yeasted pastries are a cross between puff pastry and bread so a combination of techniques used for both bread and pastry making are involved in their production. To make high quality yeasted pastries it is important to understand the effects of ingredients on the quality of the final products. Information about the functions of ingredients can be found in the bread and puff pastry information sheets.
First, a dough is made with yeast in the same way as bread dough is prepared. This contains flour suitable for breadmaking, some sugar, dough fat, salt, yeast and cold liquid, which is usually water or milk. Some recipes include eggs, giving the baked pastry a beautiful golden colour. The flour needs to have a fairly high protein content. When the ingredients are mixed into a dough the protein changes to gluten. The gluten is strong and elastic, producing layers that hold up the pastry after it is baked. After the dough has been kneaded it is covered and left in a cool place to relax. This helps prevent distortion and shrinking in the final product. After relaxing, the dough must cool for the lamination stage.

Lamination is a way of adding the ‘roll-in’ fat to the dough to produce a paste (unbaked pastry). This paste is made up of many very thin layers of dough and fat, which are made by rolling and re-rolling the dough in a similar way to making puff paste. The tastiest fat is butter and it leaves no aftertaste. The butter must be cool, but pliable. If it is too soft it soaks into the dough and layers will not form. One way to add the roll in fat is to use the English method.

The dough is then given four half turns. This is done by placing the paste on the bench so that the unfolded sides of the dough are parallel to the edge of the bench. The paste is then carefully rolled away from the edge of the bench into another rectangle and then folded into three, as in figure 2b. It is then covered and placed in a fridge for 10-15 minutes. Repeat this twice more. Finally the dough is rolled out ready for cutting.


Adding the roll in fat

Making a half-turn croissant make-up

are made by rolling out the paste into a square about 3.5mm thick. This is cut into triangles that are rolled up, bent into the traditional crescent, put on a baking sheet and left to rise until they have doubled in size. This takes about 40 minutes at 32°C. Before being baked, croissants are brushed with a beaten egg so the baked croissant looks golden. During baking the dough rises a little more, as bread does during breadmaking. This is called ovenspring. The moisture in the dough puffs up the pastry when it converts to steam. The steam is trapped between the layers of fat, turning the fat and dough laminations into flaky layers so the croissant looks like a cross between bread and puff pastry.

Danish pastry make-up
To make Danish pastries the paste is rolled out to about 4mm thick, cut and folded into various shapes – from ‘snails’ and ‘elephant ears’ to ‘swirls’ and ‘knots’. All sorts of fillings can be added; popular ones include almond paste, fruit, nuts or custard. Like croissants, danish pastries are then put on a baking tray and left to rise until about double in size. Toppings such as chopped nuts may be added and a beaten egg may be brushed on the surface just before baking. Danish pastries rise up and form flaky layers like croissants. After baking, the pastries are usually glazed to make them look attractive and to add flavour. Usually the glaze is diluted apricot jam, which is brushed on while the pastry is still hot. When cool the pastries may also be iced. Lemon icing is a delicious and popular icing.

It is important to use the correct ingredients and the right pastry making techniques to make a good puff pastry. The main ingredients are flour, water, salt, dough fat and fat.

It is best to use a pastry flour because it is has no bran (which will cause the product to have dark specks) and a high protein content (a minimum of 10%). Some protein becomes gluten when wet and this makes the paste elastic and strong and capable of forming layers when cooked.

‘Dough fat’ is a small amount of fat that is rubbed into the flour during mixing, to ‘shorten’ the dough so it becomes more tender. Cool water must be used to prevent the fat from becoming oily. The water must also taste good, i.e. be free of any unusual flavours, so it does not taint the pastry. Salt is added to strengthen the gluten and improve the flavour.

Fat is the second most important ingredient when making a good pastry. Butter is tastiest, but there are some excellent pastry margarines specially produced for making pastry products. There are even better butter/margarine combinations available for use. Fat must be kept cool so that it does not become soft and oily and mix into the dough. Other ingredients are sometimes added to give the pastry a distinctive look and taste. Eggs improve the colour of the pastry, and a little raising agent such as baking powder strengthens the gluten and increases the height of the pastry.
When making puff pastry it is important to rest the pastry. During resting, gluten relaxes and become elastic again, making rolling easier and preventing the pastry from shrinking and becoming misshapen during baking. Correct rolling is essential. The edges of the pastry must be straight and the corners square. The terms full, three-quarter and half are used when describing the amount of fat in the pastry. Full has equal weight of fat and flour, three-quarter has three-quarters of the weight of fat to flour, and half has half the weight of fat to flour. More fat makes the pastry softer to eat but reduces its height.

First a dough is made using a little dough fat and then more fat is added between the dough layers. The dough and fat are then laminated, which involves folding and rolling the dough and fat a few times to make many layers of dough and fat. The fat stays as separate layers and does not mix into the dough.

There are three different ways of adding the fat.

The quickest way is the Scotch or Blitz method. It is suitable for making pastry for pies, sausage rolls and pasties. Flour, salt, cold water and dough fat are mixed together in a mixing bowl. Walnut-sized lumps of fat are then added to the bowl and are mixed in a little, to ensure large lumps of fat are left whole in the dough. The fat is distributed throughout the dough in flat discs, rather than a continuous sheet as with the other methods. As a result this pastry does not always rise evenly and so is not suitable for products that must look exceptionally good.

In the English method the flour, salt, water and dough fat are mixed together. This dough is rolled into a long rectangular shape, three times as long as wide. Two-thirds of the dough is covered by dabs of butter. The third without butter is folded into the middle first then the other end is folded on top.

The French method – The main feature of the French method is that a square layer of fat is wrapped in the basic dough. This dough is made by rubbing about 10% of the soft fat into the flour, then adding cold water and mixing well to make a clear dough. After testing it is rolled into a square, making each side half the distance between opposite corners of the dough. The fat is placed in the centre of the doughs in the diagram below and the corners folded into the centre so they meet and cover the join. The paste is then folded again.

Once the fat is placed on the dough during lamination, the layers are folded and rolled a number of times until you have the number of layers you want. This can range from 100 to about 700. If there are more than 700 layers the dough layers are too thin and break during baking, so the pastry does not rise evenly.

Dough is rolled into a rectangle three times as long as wide to a thickness of about 12 mm. When rolling the paste keep the unfolded edges closest to you and parallel to the rolling pin before you begin rolling. The dough is then folded as described below.

There are two different ways of doing this and any combination of the two ways can be used when making puff pastry:

The half-turn method
The book-fold method

When there are enough layers the paste is rolled out to a final thickness of about 5 mm thick and left to rest so it will not shrink or become misshapen when baked. The paste is then used to cover tins or is cut into the shape needed. To line baking tins roll the paste carefully around a rolling pin and unroll it over the tin. Then trim off excess paste that is overhanging by cutting around the top of a tin with a knife. Finally, add fillings or toppings. Puff pastry is best baked at 220°C.

Height of pastry

Bakers using the English or French method calculate the number of layers they want. About 130 layers often give the greatest height of pastry, but sometimes they want less height and more layers. Bakers may use different types of folds to get the number of layers they want. The number of dough layers is calculated using different formula for different folding methods. The three-fold method gives two layers of fat after the first half turn. Each subsequent turn triples the total number of fat layers. However, there is always one more layer of dough than fat. The formula for the number of dough layers is 2(3n-1)+ 1 where n is the number of half-turns. The four-fold method quadruples the number of fat layers each time the dough is folded. Like the half-turn method there is one more layer of dough than fat after each ‘half turn’. The number of dough layers is calculated as (4n)+ 1 where n is the number of book-folds. If the English method is used to add the fat then the number of dough layers is 2(4n)+ 1.

Unbaked puff pastry (paste) has many alternating layers of fat and dough to make it puff. As the pastry bakes water boils off as steam from the gluten in the dough layers and goes into the fat layers. As water turns into steam it expands, making large bubbles between the layers of dough. This inflates the pastry and it becomes about eight times higher.