Sue’s Kitchen on TAFN, pastry, Cooking techniques and preparation methods. Blind Chef Sue gives guidance on making good, fresh pastry.


Rubbin In Method

The rubbing in method. When making some cakes
and most pastry.

  1. Pick up a small amount of the fat and flour mix between the tips of your fingers and thumbs of both hands.
  2. Rub your thumbs against the tips of your fingers, letting the mixture fall back into the bowl.
  3. Repeat this process, lifting your hands up a little each time to add air to help give the finished pastry or cake a nice crumbly light texture.
  4. Try to keep your hands as cool as possible too as this will keep the fat cold and stop the particles clinging together.
  5. Don’t be tempted to overwork the mix, or it will stick together again.
  6. By giving the bowl a gentle shake, any cool sticky pieces of fat will come to the top so that you can work them in.
  7. This whole process will only take a few minutes.

Making The Pastry

After completing the rubbing in method, begin to add cold
water, between 4 to 6 tbsp, a tablespoon at a time, stirring it round with a flat-bladed
knife until it begins to come together, do not use your hands for this. When the knife feels resistant and your
pastry is beginning to form a ball, you can then use your hands to bring it together, but if it is not forming a dough and flour is still in the bottom of
the bowl, drop the mixture back in, add a little more cold water, mix with the knife again and try to make it into a
ball with your hands.

You are aiming for a soft but not sticky consistency. Knead
the dough for a few seconds on a lightly floured surface.

Rolling Out Pastry

when rolling out pastry to fit a pie plate or tin – use enamel or pot plates with an outer rim and
a dip, or well in the centre to hold the filling. Choose two plates to make a covered pie (with a pastry base and
lid) that are approximately an inch 5 cm different in size, lightly flour your worktop.

If you are making a covered pie, break the dough in half and roll each piece out until it is about a quarter inch, half a cm, thick. Don’t
make it too thin for pie cases.
Use a good, long, solid wooden rolling pin, flour it before you begin, give your dough a quarter turn after every few rolls back and
forth for a good result, keeping a steady pressure will also achieve an even thickness and a good round shape.

When your pastry is approximately the right size, check by turning your pie plate upside down,
laying it on top of the pastry circle, it needs to be just a
little bit bigger than the plate, with a small amount of pastry protruding underneath all the way round.

Lining Your Plate

To line your plate – remove the plate from the pastry, flour your rolling pin and starting at one edge, lift the pastry gently and lay it over
the pin and roll it so that the pastry has formed a loose roll around the pin.
put the pie plate close to the pin and carefully unroll and drop the pastry on to the plate so that it fits into the central well without stretching. Run a pointed knife around the
outside edge of the plate to remove the excess pastry. It will come away easily if you angle it
downwards and run it round, right up against the rim. Leave this covered plate
on one side.

Now flour your work surface and pin again, roll out the other half of the pastry as before, measure the size using the other plate, upside down, cutting round it
with a sharp knife to remove excess pastry.
Leave the pastry loosely wrapped around your rolling pin as
before, so that its ready to form the pie lid.

Now fill your pie, (using the plate you have already lined with pastry) spreading out the chosen filling
evenly to almost reach the pastry edge.
Dampen the edge of the pastry rim with a little cold water, either using a pastry brush or by dipping
the fingers of one hand into a cup containing a little cold water, and running
them round the edge of the pastry. Now,
lay the other pastry circle over the top using the same technique with the
rolling pin as before, pressing the outer edges together to seal them after
making sure that the pastry is sitting nice and flat over the filling and not

Crimp the pastry rim all the way round between finger and thumb if you wish to make an attractive edging, then prick the top
of the pie in a couple of places with a fork, to let out the steam while the
pie is cooking. Brush the top of the pie with a little beaten egg or milk to give a nice glazed finish.

Lining A Tin

When lining a tin, rub in, make and roll out the pastry in the same way, use two tins, both the same size, if you need
to make a pastry lid. This time, pick the rolled pastry up on your pin, laying it over your tin which has been placed upside down on the worktop, leave it in this position and cut round it with a
sharp knife to get the right shape to line the inside of your tin.

Carefully lift it and leave on one side. Position the other tin right side up, next to the prepared tin, supporting the pastry with both hands, turn it the right way up and let the pastry fall
gently into the empty tin. Use the empty tin again to measure, if you need a pastry lid, Placing
it on the pastry, wrong side up, cutting round it to make the pastry lid.

Baking Blind

Baking Blind is the term used when it is necessary to partly bake a pastry case before adding a filling for some flan and quiche recipes. It is just
a way of setting and sealing the pastry so that any filling doesn’t leak out or make the pastry soggy before your quiche or custard has had time to cook
through properly.

When you are making the pastry, keep the dough and your hands as cool as you can.
After you have made your dough, it is essential that you allow the pastry to rest for half an hour or so, before rolling it out and lining your tin. just
pop the ball of dough into a clean plastic bag to prevent it from drying out, then put it in the fridge to keep it cold.

When the half hour is up, take the dough from the fridge, and try not to overwork or stretch the pastry when you are rolling it out.
Always use the correct size tin, as stated in your recipe.

When you line the tin, push the pastry right down into the base and firmly up against the sides and right into any fluted edges.
Let the pastry rest and get cold again after you have rolled it out and lined the flan tin. Just put your lined tin into a plastic bag, then put it
back in the fridge for a further half hour.

When you are ready to continue with your baking, take the tin of pastry from the fridge, and unwrap it.
Now, prick the base of the pastry case all over with a fork, so that any air can escape from underneath as it cooks, this will help to prevent the pastry
from trying to rise up in the tin.

Now line the pastry case with either kitchen foil or greaseproof or silicone parchment paper. Then add either a good layer of ceramic baking beans (available from good cookshops), or if you don’t have these, dried peas or beans, or even dried
pasta will be fine. They will weigh the pastry down in the tin to prevent any rising up and shrinkage.

Now, follow the baking instructions in your recipe for the first stage where it tells you to “bake blind” for the appropriate length of
time at the correct oven temperature.
After “baking blind”, remove the pastry from the oven, let the tin cool slightly, then tip out the baking beans and peel off the paper or foil,
before adding the filling and continuing with the recipe.

A good crisp end result is achieved when you bake blind for things like egg custard and quiche Lorraine.