To make good pastry, really good pastry, you are supposed to have cold hands; my mum was one of those people whose hands were always hot and yet she made the most exquisite pastry. She would make it in a trice too, flinging the ingredients into a bowl, rubbing it up, her fingers a blur and then whizzing the rolling-pin over the pastry and almost flinging it into the greased tins. She used Stork margarine and lard, different quantities according to the type of pastry she was making. Her normal pastry would be brushed with milk if it was a lid for a pie and would emerge from the oven golden and delicious, begging to be eaten. Her pastry for mince-pies must have been different because they were always pale, almost white, though perfectly cooked and tasted divine, even when a few days old. here everyday pastry was shortcrust, just flour fat and water and a pinch of salt, but she did an enriched pastry for flans, open top sweet tarts where shoe would add an egg and a little sugar. Sometimes she would make éclairs, filled with whipped cream (it may have been tinned cream) and with a drizzle of melted chocolate on top – and I think she may have used cooking chocolate, or maybe – and my memory has faded a little – maybe she made a chocolate or coffee icing… that really rings a bell now, so I think it must have been icing. Her suet pastry for puddings would have been with suet not the margarine/lard combination; we only ever had meat puddings with suet although I know some families had fruit or sweet puddings; her jam/treacle/marmalade puddings were made with a sponge mixture as was spotted dick.

Her recipe came from the faithful Be-Ro cookery book, and I still use it today although my pastry is never and has never been, as good as hers… not bad, but not as good as mum’s! This is what’s called shortcrust pastry, and this is the recipe I know byheart:

  • 8 oz (200 gr) plain flour
  • 4 oz (100 gr) margarine
  • 4 oz (100 gr) lard (or vegetarian substitute)
  • good pinch of salt (even if you try to avoid salt in your diet, pastry without salt is horrible – t must do something to the chemistry of the baking)
  • cold water to mix
  1. rub the flour, salt and fat together with your fingertips so it looks like breadcrumbs
  2. use a knife to stir in the cold water, taking care not to add too much, cutting and using the blade
  3. VERY LIGHTLY pull the pastry together, form a ball and then GENTLY roll it out and cut to use for whatever you want
  4. bero 2 001


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