There are three classes of Pastry: plain, flaky, and puff paste.
Plain paste is prepared by chopping the fat into the flour; flaky and puff paste are prepared by adding most of the fat in layers between the layers of dough, and combining them by rolling and folding.
Pastry Flour, which takes up but a small quantity of water and contains less gluten than bread flour, should be used for pastry, as it gives a more tender crust.
Fat or Shortening is used to make pastry tender. Butter gives the better flavor, lard makes a more tender crust and one of lighter color. Beef drippings, suet, and many prepared commercial fats may be used. In plain pastry from 1/4 to 1/3 as much fat as flour by measure, is used. Fat should be cold when used.
Baking Powder. Pastry is made light by the expansion of cold air. Baking powder may be added to increase this lightness and to make a cheaper paste as the per cent of fat can then be reduced. From 1/4 to 1 teaspoon baking powder may be used to each cup of flour.
Salt is added to give flavor to the paste.
Sugar is sometimes used if a sweet paste is desired.
Water used should be very cold and just enough to hold ingredients together, as the presence of very much water makes the pastry tough.
A smooth, perfectly clean bread board is essential. A marble or metal board is sometimes used because it can be kept very cold.
A smooth rolling pin that can be kept clean is desirable. Glass or china rolling pins are considered good because they can be kept very cold.
Pie tins should be kept in good condition. Granite or aluminum are best, especially for fruit pies. Perforated tins are considered good for baking under crust thoroughly.
Keep paste cold, as it is considered essential that fat dots not begin to melt until baking begins, the cold air will cause the paste to expand more in baking, and cold paste is easier to handle.
Handle quickly and lightly so that the gluten is not developed in the flour.
Handle deftly so that there will be but little waste, and the board, the pin, and the person may be kept neat.
General Rules for Making Pastry
Sift all dry ingredients together. Chop in cold fat with a knife. Do not touch with hands. Do not chop fat very fine if a flaky crust is desired.
Add cold water very carefully, a few drops at a time, and only enough to hold the dough together.
Toss on a floured board with a knife so that the entire surface is slightly floured. Handle only the quantity that is to be used for one crust at a time.
Roll lightly and quickly, in one direction only, and on one side only.
Roll thin and as nearly the shape of the pan as possible.
Fold and lift the paste carefully to the pie plate, and trim one-fourth inch larger than plate.
Work scraps together lightly, keep them covered with a moist cloth, and very cold; they may be used another day. All pastry rolls more easily after chilling.
Left-over pastry may be used for cheese straws and tarts.
Plain paste for a one-crust pie may be baked on the outside of the pie tin, and carefully pierced with a fork before baking so that bubbles will not spoil the shape.
Meat, oyster pies, and pies made with fresh fruit are best made without an under crust. They should be baked in an earthen or granite dish.
The upper crust should always be perforated to allow the escape of steam.
If the upper crust is brushed with beaten egg before baking it will brown better, and have a shiny appearance.
If the pie is a juicy fruit pie it is well to brush the under crust with beaten white of egg to prevent the juice making the crust soft.
The lower crust should always be moistened around the edge with cold water, the upper crust placed over it, and the two pressed tightly together.
A half-inch strip of paste may be placed around the edge of the under crust in order to hold the two more firmlv together. This must be moistened with cold water before the upper crust is added. A strip of muslin wet in cold water may be placed around the edge of the fruit pie if the fruit is very juicy.