Monday, February 15, 2010

The Nature of Pies and Pastries

From "Woman's Institute Library of Cookery, Vol. 4"

Pastry is a shortened dough that is made of flour, water, salt, and fat and used in the preparation of desserts. Chief among these deserts are pies. These are made by baking foods between two crusts of pastry or with a single crust, which may be an upper or a lower one. Originally pies were not intended for desserts. Rather, they were used as the main dish of the meal, as they contained a filling of meat or fish and vegetables. Such pies are still made, but they are not usually the ones intended when pastry for pies is mentioned. It should therefore be understood that the pastry considered in this Section is that which is used with sweet fillings and employed particularly in the making of pies and similar foods that are used for desserts.

Some cooks, especially the French ones, regard as pastry such foods as certain small cakes, the paste used for cream puffs and éclairs, and the sweetened breads made with yeast, such as brioche. In reality, such desserts resemble cakes in use more than they do pastry, and for this reason are discussed in connection with them.

Pastry desserts may be made in various fancy shapes for individual servings or in pies that will serve five or six persons. Pies having one crust usually contain a filling that consists of a custard mixture, a mixture thickened with corn starch or flour, or occasionally a fruit mixture. Some pies also have a top crust covering the filling, and when this is the case a fruit filling, either fresh or cooked, is the kind that is generally used.

Because of the nature of the materials used in the preparation of pastry desserts, the finished product is necessarily high in food value. For instance, starchy material is provided by the flour, fat by the shortening, and sugar in comparatively large amounts by the filling, whether it be fruit of some kind or a material resembling custard. This fact, rather than the taste or the appetite, should aid in determining whether or not pastry desserts should be included in a meal. While the popularity of such desserts causes them to be used somewhat indiscriminately, their use should always be governed by the nature of the rest of the meal. Thus, if the other dishes served provide enough food value, then a dessert lighter than pie should be chosen; but if the rest of the meal is not sufficiently high in this respect, a wholesome pastry dessert will generally prove to be a wise selection.

It is true, of course, that every person must determine for himself whether or not pastry desserts are wholesome enough to be eaten by him. Indigestion is almost sure to result from heavy, soggy, imperfectly baked pastry, because the quantities of fat it contains may be slow to digest and much of the starchy material may be imperfectly cooked. Consequently, it is often not the pie itself but the way in which it is made that is responsible for the bad reputation that this very attractive dessert has acquired. If the correct method of making pastry and pies is followed and the ingredients are handled properly in the making, the digestibility of the finished product need give the housewife very little concern. As a rule, a little experience is needed in order that good results in the making of pastry dishes may be attained, but one who becomes efficient in the other phases of cookery should have no difficulty with foods of this kind.


astheroshe said...

I just found your blog..and I love pie. I think it is the hardest pastry to perfect :0 will be visiting often :)

MâHâßuß ßHuiyân said...

I just found your blog and want to say thank you ! What an enjoyable time looking through so many sites. It is really nice post thanks for sharing and just keep up the good work !

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