December 22, 2016

5 Tips For Baking Perfect Pasties

With a history dating back to 12th century England, the pasty is a unique spin on traditional pastry. Also called a oggie or tiddy oggin, it’s a fluffy pastry casing filled with anything from beef, vegetables or any number of tasty fillings. In the last few years, the pasty trends has hit the U.S., with several restaurants serving this tasty treat almost exclusively.

Spinach puffs with addition of Gorgonzola cheese, walnuts and sesame seeds

Spinach puffs with addition of Gorgonzola cheese, walnuts and sesame seeds

“Pasties date back to the 12th century in England.”

If you’re a culinary graduate who’d like to hop on the bandwagon and experiment with pasties, here are five helpful tips to keep your dough fluffy and your fillings gooey:

1. Pick your pastry 
As you might have guessed, the perfect pasty begins with the right pastry. Generally speaking, chefs have two options: puff and shortcrust. The former is a bit more common than the latter, and it’s better if you want to tinker around with several different kinds of fillings. Shortcrust will still do the job, and ultimately it comes down to your personal preference. It may help to experiment with both pastries to figure out what works best.

2. Add hot water
The traditional British approach to cooking the pastry involves the use of hot water. If you ask most hot-water enthusiasts, they’ll tell you that it’s the best way to achieve perfectly cooked fillings and a tender crust. The use of hot water is also said to help with the kneading process, helping to soften the dough without making it overly tough. So, use water during the preparation process for dough that’s overly dry; just be sure to knead thoroughly after adding moisture.

3. Try liquid filling 
As mentioned above, beef and vegetables are the most common fillings. However, as The Guardian pointed out, some chefs go a step further with a little extra liquid filling. Namely, the addition of gravy can prevent the entire dish from drying out. Some chefs will then toss in things like Worcestershire sauce, butter or reduced stock to both prevent dryness and enhance the filling’s natural flavors. Water is all you really need for a pasty, but feel free to experiment with these add-ins.

4. Don’t overdo it 
Pasties need to be sealed in order to reach maximum tastiness potential. If they aren’t, then the meat and veggies won’t cook all the way through and that everything stays together. That starts by making sure you don’t overload the pasty with filling; a couple cups of meat, veggies or other options will be perfect for your average sized pasty. From there, use your fingers to seal up the edges of the pastry. If it helps, a sharp knife can knock up the edges to ensure the pasty is 100 percent sealed.

5. Remember the basics 
Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver is no stranger to making pasties. In a blog entry, he outlined a few essential rules for perfect pasties every time. To begin, always make more dough than you intend on using; it’s tough to make, so save yourself some time down the road. You always need to let the pastry rest, or it’ll shrink too much in the oven. If you give it a few hours, the pastry will be much easier to manipulate and won’t be as crumbly to boot. Finally, you may want to consider spicing the pastry for added flavor; vanilla, cinnamon and poppy seeds are your best bets.