The word pastry is a huge umbrella. There are many types of pastry from pie crusts and shortcrust to puff pastries, danishes, croissants, and choux pastry. Today, we will discuss and identify these different types of pastry.
It is said that pastries were first created by the ancient Egyptians. History tells us that Greece and Rome made pastries with almond, flour, honey, and seeds. And, when sugar was first imported to Europe it led to a revolution in pastries. France, Italy, and Spain, Switzerland created some of the most amazing pastries we still use today.
If you search online, you will get many different numbers for types of pastry dough. Some say there are five types of pastry and there are those that will say there are 15 or more types of pastry. Neither are wrong, because, it really depends on what you include in your list.
The two main types of pastry are laminated doughs and unlaminated dough.
- Laminated means that fat is folded between the layers of dough such as our puff pastry, croissants, and Danishes.
- The unlaminated is where fat is rubbed into the flour such as our crusts for pies, tarts, and quiches. Brioche is also considered a type of unlaminated pastry, even though we often refer to it as bread.
Having said that, all pastries use the basic ingredients of flour, fat, and water. The most common fat being butter. And yet, shortening, lard, or oils can also be used. While the ingredients are similar, they are used in different ratios, different methods, and different temperatures. This results in different types of pastry.
Let's explore these below as best we can. Shall we?
Types of crusts
Previously, we've discussed at length the different types of crust. But, let's do a short quick introduction here.
A pie crust or Pate Brisee is a basic pastry dough using flour, butter, and water as the main ingredients. It can be used for sweet pies, like apple pie, that uses a double pie crust or a pecan pie using a single pie crust. You can make pie crust by hand or using a food processor. And you can also make an all-butter crust or 50/50 crust.
Swee shortcrust or Pâte Sucrée - Is the same as the above pie crust but sweeter. Sucrée means sweet in French. It also uses the same ingredients and method with the addition of a little sugar. I have shown you how to make shortcrust by hand as well as using a food processor
Rich shortcrust or Pâte sablée - is your dessert pastry and very much like a cookie crust. In addition, it has a higher percentage of sugar. Sablee means sandy or grainy. I have shown you how to make this shortcrust along with three different methods to roll it.
Puff pastry, Danish pastry, croissants
The traditional puff pastry has been around for generations and is the base of many wonderful pastries. The classic puff pastry is also known as Pâte feuilletée. In French, it means layered dough (laminated dough). The layers are made with just three main ingredients flour, water, and butter. And there is no leavening or yeast in this dough.
The puff pastry is made up of three parts -- The flour knows as the détrempe in French, the butter block which is known as the beurrage, and the Pâton, which means the package of dough by combining the two, flour and butter block into one.
Often you will also see a recipe for quick puff pastry. This is basically a rough mixture of flour and butter combined. We do create a few layers but it is not the same as the classic pastry. It is quicker because it does not need any lamination time. The resulting pastry does turn out buttery and flaky but without even layers of pastry. It tastes delicious and very close to the classic. Definitely a great substitute if you can't make the classic.
Danish pastry is a buttery, flaky, pastry made with a lamination similar to croissants and puff pastry. But, they are sweeter and have more butter and eggs. The Danish dough is not necessarily difficult, but it is time-consuming because we need to chill the dough in between steps.
It's also a very forgiving dough that's easy to knead with a stand mixer or by hand. There are three main components to this pastry.
- The dough - this is simple yeast-based dough with eggs, butter, and sugar. It can be soft and sticky to work with, so don't skip the chilling times.
- Butter block - yes, it is lots of butter, which we cream with a little flour and then laminate between the dough. The purpose of the flour in the butter is to help stabilize it. Most professionals often skip the flour, but I recommend you use it.
- The fillings - usually this often could be cream cheese or pastry cream with a fruit filling or jam. It can also be just a fruit filling or jam.
Also, there are many ways to shape the Danish pastry. We have covered this dough in great detail from the basic dough to shaping the Danish as well as individual pastries like Danish pinwheels, cream cheese cylinders as well as pastry cream pain au raisin.
'Croissants de Boulanger' is a flaky, buttery French pastry that is a yeast-based dough laminated with layers of butter. And, then, shaped to create its distinct croissant shape. You will get lots of variations of fillings and shapes made from this basic dough. In this blog, I have made the classic croissants as well as some variations like ham and cheese croissants and chocolate.
There are two main components to this dough:
- The dough - this is simple yeast-based dough with a small amount of butter and sugar.
- Butter block - this is lots of butter, which we cream with a little flour and then laminate between the dough.
Of course, let's not forget the flaky filo or phyllo pastry. Filo is an unleavened pastry of very thin delicate sheets of dough. It has less moisture content so it does not rise like puff pastry.
The filo layers are separated by melted butter or oil. They bake crispy and flaky. Often used in desserts like apple strudel, chocolate cigars, and baklava as well as savory recipes like samosa or crispy tarts.
Choux pastry - Pate a choux
Choux pastry pronounced 'shoe pastry' is a French dough called pate a choux, which means 'cabbage paste'. Well, apparently, the little baked puffs resemble small cabbages. Hence, the name.
The basic dough is cooked twice. First, it's cooked on the stovetop. Then, piped into small puffs and baked into the light and airy pastries. You can also fill them to make impressive desserts like cream puffs, profiteroles, and eclairs.
Cream puffs - Cream puffs are a great way to make impressive desserts that wow your guests. Using homemade choux pastry from scratch, these are filled with whipped cream for a quick and tasty treat.
Profiteroles - The classic French dessert profiteroles are made with choux pastry that is light as air. And, they are filled with vanilla pastry cream, whipped cream, or ice cream, and finished with a chocolate glaze.
Eclairs - The classic eclair also uses the choux pastry dough but they are piped into long tubular shapes. Filled with pastry cream, whipped cream, or fruit fillings, etc. Often, with a chocolate glaze too.
Churros - These are deep-fried treats. And yet, do you know that it uses the choux pastry dough as a base? Yes, instead of baking the choux pastry the dough is put in a piping bag and deep-fried until golden and crispy. Often dusted with cinnamon sugar and served with a chocolate sauce or ice creams.
Brioche, biscuits, scones, and rolls
Yes, these are often also referred to as French pastry bread.
Brioche - Is a pastry that resembles bread. An enriched yeast bread with eggs and lots of butter. It has a rich, tender crumb with soft, light, and airy bread. We made the classic brioche, brioche sandwich bread as well as brioche Pullman bread
Cinnamon rolls - Are also yeast-dough breakfast pastry bread, which I believe originated in Sweden. It is made with eggs, butter and layered with cinnamon sugar. Then, topped with cream cheese. The dough is rich with a soft tender crumb. We made cinnamon rolls topped with cream cheese as well as cinnamon rolls topped with condensed milk.
Biscuits and scones - These are made very similar to pie crust but the ratio of butter, flour, and water is different. They are often used as quick-bread pastries served for breakfast, with soups and stews. In fact, this dough does not need to be chilled you cut the fat into the flour, gather it all into a shaggy dough, roll and cut small discs. Then, it is brushed with milk and baked until golden. We made the classic biscuits, buttermilk biscuits, cheddar cheese biscuits.
Tips for working with pastry
- First, read the recipe correctly. And, use ingredients at the right temperature. For example, chilled butter has to be firm chilled not just cold. This can have a huge image of the outcome.
- Measure the ingredients using a weight measure, not volume. Also, use liquid measuring cups for liquid ingredients.
- Invest in an oven thermometer to ensure your oven is at the right temperature.
- In addition, a candy thermometer is important when you need to measure sauce, caramels, and chocolate for your pastry.
- When laminating the dough, ensure the butter is cold but not hard. Seal the butter properly so it does not come out.
- Always preheat the oven to the appropriate temperature and make sure the oven is hot before you bake any pastry. A cold oven can melt all the butter out of the pastry and you will end up with a pool of butter on the bottom.
- Most pastries require to be baked chilled. This is the best way to ensure that the butter between the dough layers steams and not melt.
- Yeast doughs must be given enough time to rise but they must also never be over-proofed.
- Always use the middle rack for baking. And, if you must bake top and bottom switch the trays half-way through baking. Top to bottom and front to back.
- Use glazes at the right temperature and at the appropriate time.
Frequently asked questions
The word 'viennoiserie' means 'things from Vienna' in French. It usually refers to pastry such as brioche, croissants, pain au raisins. These are baked pastries made with yeast-based dough similar to bread. Unlike bread, these are enriched with eggs, butter, cream, etc.
A boulangerie is a French bakery that sells pastries and viennoiseries as well as bread such as baguettes.
'Patissier' means baker and 'Patisseries' mean pastries in French. A Patissier bakes Patisseries.
Similar. All three are made with choux pastry dough. Profiteroles and cream puffs are little bulbs while eclairs are long tubular in shape. Eclairs are best filled with pastry cream, but these can be filled with pastry cream, whipped cream, or ice cream.
No, they are all laminated dough, meaning they are all layers of flour and butter, and yet they are all different from each other.
Puff pastry has no yeast and no eggs.
Croissant dough has the addition of yeast and is made with milk just like bread, but with lamination.
Danish pastry has yeast as well as eggs.
While puff pastry goes thru 6 folds, a croissant goes thru just 3 or 4 folds, and a Danish pastry has about 3 turns as well.
Lastly, puff pastry has a flaky crusty quality, while croissant has a more bread-like quality and the Danish pastry has a chewier texture.
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