The greatest possible cleanliness and nicety should be observed in making pastry. The slab or board, paste-rollers, tins, cutters, stamps, everything, in fact, used for it, and especially the hands (for these last are not always so scrupulously attended to as they ought to be), should be equally free from the slightest soil or particle of dust. The more expeditiously the finer kinds of crust are made and despatched to the oven, and the less they are touched, the better. Much of their excellence depends upon the baking also; they should have a sufficient degree of heat to raise them quickly, but not so fierce a one as to colour them too much before they are done, and still less to burn them. The oven-door should remain closed after they are put in, and not be removed until the paste is set. Large raised pies require a steadily-sustained, or, what is technically called a soaking heat, and to ensure this the oven should be made very hot, then cleared, and closely shut from half to a whole hour before it is used, to concentrate the heat.
It is an advantage in this case to have a large log or two of cord-wood burned in it, in addition to the usual firing.
In mixing paste, the water should be added gradually, and the whole gently drawn together with the fingers, until sufficient has been added, when it should be lightly kneaded until it is as smooth as possible. When carelessly made, the surface is often left covered with small dry crumbs or lumps; or the water is poured in heedlessly in so large a proportion that it becomes necessary to add more flour to render it workable in any way; and this ought particularly to be avoided when a certain weight of all the ingredients has been taken.
Divide equally in two, and roll off square and as thin as possible, some rich puff-crust;* lay one half on a buttered tin, or copper oven-leaf, and spread it lightly with fine currant, strawberry, or raspberry jelly; lay the remaining half closely over, pressing it a little with the rolling-pin after the edges are well cemented together; then mark it into divisions, and bake it from fifteen to twenty minutes in a moderate oven.
Put four tablespoonsful of the best currant-jelly into a basin, and stir to it gradually twelve spoonsful of beaten egg; if the preserve be rich and sweet, no sugar will be required. Line some pans with paste rolled very thin, fill them with the custard, and bake them for about ten minutes.†
Roll out, rather thin, from six to eight ounces of fine cream-crust, or feuilletage (see page. 250); take nearly or quite half its weight of grated Parmesan, or something less of dry white cheese; sprinkle it equally over the paste, fold it together, roll it out very lightly twice, and continue this until the cheese and crust are well mixed. Cut the ramekins with a small paste-cutter; wash them with yolk of egg mixed with a little milk, and bake them about fifteen minutes. Serve them very hot.
* Almond paste is sometimes substituted for this.
* Strawberry o raspberry jelly will answer admirably for these.
Cream-crust, or feuilletage, 6 ozs.; Parmesan, 3 ozs.; or English cheese, 2 1/2 ozs.: 15 minutes.