Are you a pastry genius? If you think you have pretty good knowledge of the type of pastries out there, find out for sure in this blog!
Ah, pastry. What type of world would we live in without the decadent treats that pastry can create? Whether it’s a croissant, an éclair, a flaky sausage roll, or a rich and hearty beef pie, the world as we know it just wouldn’t be the same.
Pastry is a wonderfully versatile type of baking ingredient. It’s used to create any number of sweet or savory indulgent desserts and dishes and forms the basis of any baker’s recipe repertoire.
Whether you’re a wanna-be baker or one with experience, these are the types of pastries you should know how to make…
Let's Not Confuse Pastry with Pastries
Before we dive into the many different types of pastries today, it’s important to clarify that there is a clear difference between pastry and pastries. When we talk about pastry, this refers to a raw type of dough that can create any number of sweet or savory delicacies.
When referring to pastries, this is often the by-product of pastry, plus the addition of other ingredients, such as custard, lemon curd, and jams, etc.
Some of the most common pastries you may be quite familiar with (because who doesn’t love a good almond croissant?) include tarts, Danish pastries, custard slices, éclairs, and more.
Pastry, for the most part, consists of flour, water, and some form of fat. This type of fat generally depends on the type of pastry you’re making. Some popular forms of fat include butter, shortening, ghee, lard, full-fat margarine, oils, and suet.
The type of fat you use enriches the flavor and texture of a certain pastry, so it’s important to use the right fat. Sometimes, fats are interchangeable between different forms of pastry, but not always.
Fat plays a hugely important role in the final outcome of how you’re able to work a pastry, how it cooks, tastes, rises, and crumbles.
One of the most popular forms of fat in most pastry doughs is butter — simply because the flavor is unbeatable. But in some instances the texture may be super important, so lard will be the order of the day.
Exploring the Different Types of Pastries Today
Pastry has been around for centuries, dating back to the ancient Roman, Greek, and Phoenicians era. While those versions of pastry may have been a little more rudimentary than they are today, it goes to show that the simple combination of flour, water, and fat has stood the test of time.
Here are the types of pastry you should know how to make as a baking enthusiast:
1. Shortcrust Pastry
This is probably the most versatile of all types of pastry, and bonus, it’s the easiest to make, too! Shortcrust pastry is not like other pastries in that it’s quite dense and does not puff up or flake when it’s baked. Instead, it has a crumbly texture when you bite into it.
Shortcrust pastry is wonderfully universal — you can use it as a base for both sweet and savory indulgences. The options are endless and range from sweet tarts, and flans, to savory pies, quiches, tarts, and more.
There is one key rule to keep in mind when creating this type of pastry: stick to a 1:2 ratio of fat to flour (by weight). So, in other words, the perfect recipe consists of half the amount of fat to flour.
The temperature of the fat used to create shortcrust pastry is very important — it must be cold. This is so that the butter doesn’t melt into the flour when you are working the pastry. Cold butter also adds to the crumbly texture.
When creating shortcrust, you rub the fat into the flour, then add cold water to form a dough-like consistency. There’s another reason why fat is crucial to this recipe — it prevents the formation of gluten strands when adding the water.
There are few specialized forms of shortcrust pastry, such as:
- Pâte à foncer — this is a typically French type of shortcrust that includes egg and a touch of sugar
- Pâte brisée — this type of pastry includes a larger amount of butter to create a delicate pastry that’s ideal for pies
- Pâte sucrée — also known as sweet shortcrust pastry, this recipe includes sugar and egg yolks for a sweet and rich end-product
- Pâté sablé –- this is a less crumbly version of shortcrust due to a larger amount of creamed sugar and butter to flour, ideal for sweet tarts
Then there’s also suet crust pastry. This type of shortcrust is traditional throughout British baking and it’s far more elastic, with a light and spongy texture. The recipe also consists of suet, rather than butter and self-raising flour.
2. Filo (Phyllo) Pastry
This is a close relative to one of the world’s most well-known pastries, puff pastry. It originated in the Middle East and has since become synonymous with delicious desserts and treats from this part of the world.
Filo pastry is very different from other forms of pastry in that it’s unleavened and very thin and delicate. The pastry is stretched out into thin sheets, which are then layered on top of one another, each separated by oil or melted butter.
When you bake filo pastry, the end result is a crispy, wafer-like texture. It does not rise, puff, or crumble like other forms of pastry due to a very low water content.
There is no working of the dough or rolling it out either. Instead, it’s stretched and coated with fat, then layered until you reach an ideal thickness for the dish you’re creating.
This is one of the most difficult and technical types of pastry to master. You will need a large work surface and a long roller in order to get it right.
For this reason, you can find ready-made filo pastry in almost all grocery stores today. You can use filo pastry to create both sweet and savory treats too, such as Baklava, Halva, samosas, spring rolls, and more.
3. Choux Pastry
This is one of the lightest and airiest types of pastries you can get. Made from a combination of flour, water, butter, and eggs, choux pastry is also pretty versatile. You can use it to create a number of savory and sweet delicacies, ranging from vol-a-vents to the iconic éclair.
Due to its high moisture content, this makes the pastry very light in the mouth, so it’s ideal for filled types of desserts. You need a certain level of skill and patience to make choux pastry.
You start by bringing the water and butter to the boil, then you incorporate the flour. Once the mixture cools, you then add the eggs one at a time until combined. The moisture that’s trapped inside the dough turns into steam when baked, hence the beautifully light and bouncy texture of this pastry.
4. Puff Pastry
If there is an iconic type of pastry — this has to be it. It’s no secret that making puff pastry is no easy feat and takes a certain level of skill and a great deal of time. But if you can master puff pastry, that’s a real achievement!
Also known as laminated dough, puff pastry is the most difficult and technical to master. Essentially, it’s a type of pastry that consists of multiple layers that puff up when baked to create a light, flaky, and indulgent texture.
The dough is made from a simple combination of flour, sugar, salt, and water. It’s then rolled out into a large square shape and topped with a rectangular layer of butter.
The dough layer then envelopes the butter layer in a process called lamination. This process is repeated multiple times to create the perfect puff pastry texture. Puff pastry is iconic and versatile and is used to create anything from croissants, palmiers, beef Wellington, Mille-Feuille, filled pastry puffs, and more.
Rough Puff Pastry
This is a version of the traditional puff pastry that’s far easier to make at home and doesn’t require any professional equipment. In other words, it’s a shortcut version.
This recipe includes flour, water, salt, and sugar — but instead of layering with butter, it’s diced up and incorporated into the flour. This is then kneaded to form a stiff dough that contains lumps of butter.
You then roll and fold it out just as you would puff pastry, before chilling, then baking.
5. Flaky Pastry
Flaky pastry is the cousin to puff pastry and is a little easier to make at home. However, it’s still quite a fussy type of pastry and requires great care during preparation. The key to getting this pastry right is keeping it chilled.
The recipe is basically the same as puff pastry, except you don’t incorporate the butter in one single layer. Instead, you incorporate the butter little by little, after each fold of the pastry.
You can also grate frozen butter into the dough — it may not produce perfect sheet layers of pastry, but it will still be delicious, light, and flaky in texture.
This type of pastry is ideal for savory pie crusts, sausage rolls, turnovers, Eccles cakes, vanilla and custard slices, and more.
Looking For Baking Recipe Inspiration?
While all of these types of pastries are versatile, some are far easier to make from scratch than others. If you’re looking for a real challenge as a baking enthusiast, tick puff pastry off your list. But if you’re just starting out, try a simple shortcrust pastry recipe to find your feet.
If you have a love for baking and need recipe inspiration, you’re in the perfect place! Explore the rest of Food Porn Zone and our page on baking and desserts for more.