How to Make Pastries


Pastry is a general term used for a rich, unleavened dough made with flour, fat (butter, margarine, or lard), and a little water. The term pastry is also used to refer to sweet baked items, such as Danish pastries, cream puffs, and sweet rolls.

Pie pastry is mostly used to make pie crusts, but can also be used for sweet or savory turnovers. Puff pastry is an especially rich pastry prepared by layering pastry dough with bits of butter. When baked, the moisture in the butter creates steam, causing the dough to separate into hundreds of paper-thin, flaky layers.

No matter what you call them, pastries are delicious. In this article, we'll show you how to make pastries with easy step-by-step instructions. We'll start with the basics on pastry dough on the next page.

Not what you're looking for? Try these:

  • How to Make a Pie: A home-baked pie adds a perfect finishing touch to any meal. Fortunately, there are so many varieties of pie, it's easy to find one to complement any menu. Learn how to make a pie here.
  • How to Bake a Cake: Find basic instructions and definitions that will help you bake a cake in this article. You'll learn about everything from selecting the proper baking pan to cooling and frosting a finished cake.
  • Cooking: Learn the ins and outs of some basic cooking techniques in this helpful article.

How to Use Pastry Dough

Since ancient times, phyllo dough, sometimes called puff pastry, has been loved all over the world. The layers, known for their buttery crisp quality, make phyllo dough stand out from other pastries. Making it from scratch requires stretching dozens of paper-thin sheets of wheat flour dough by hand and then buttering, stacking, filling, and folding them into all kinds of sweet and savory delights. Few modern bakers -- even the professionals -- want to do all that work, no matter how wonderful the finished product tastes.

Try It!
Here is a pastry recipe from our collection:

It's fortunate that commercially prepared sheets
of phyllo (also spelled "filo" and "fillo") are readily available in supermarket freezer cases.

These delicate sheets are ready to be stacked, buttered, filled with just about any flavorful filling imaginable; folded into almost any shape; and baked. From flaky, savory appetizers to decadent desserts, the possibilities are almost endless.

General Guidelines for Working with Phyllo

While working with phyllo has a reputation for being difficult, it's actually quite easy to master if you remember to follow these basic rules:

  • Defrost phyllo dough overnight in the refrigerator or as directed on the package.

  • Have all your ingredients ready before taking out the dough.

  • Remove only as many pastry sheets as needed (wrap unused sheets in plastic wrap or foil and return them to the freezer immediately).

  • Unfold pastry sheets on a lightly floured board, countertop, or pastry cloth. If the pastry becomes too soft, chill it in the refrigerator for a few minutes.

  • Work with one pastry sheet at a time, keeping the others in the refrigerator or covered with a damp towel so they won't dry out.

  • Handle the pastry as little as possible to ensure tenderness.

  • Seal filled pastries by brushing a mixture of beaten eggs and water between layers, then pinching or pressing them together.

Now that you know the basics about phyllo dough, learn how to make pastry triangles on the next page.

Not what you're looking for? Try these:

  • How to Make a Pie: A home-baked pie adds a perfect finishing touch to any meal. Fortunately, there are so many varieties of pie, it's easy to find one to complement any menu. Learn how to make a pie here.
  • How to Bake a Cake: Find basic instructions and definitions that will help you bake a cake in this article. You'll learn about everything from selecting the proper baking pan to cooling and frosting a finished cake.
  • Cooking: Learn the ins and outs of some basic cooking techniques in this helpful article.

How to Make Pastry Triangles

Phyllo dough is very versatile, matching well with ingredients both salty and sweet. Here are step-by-step instructions for folding phyllo into a triangle for puff pastry appetizers and desserts.
  1. Remove phyllo from package; unroll and place on large sheet of waxed paper.

  2. Fold phyllo crosswise into thirds. Use scissors to cut along folds into thirds.

    Cut phyllo with scissors when making pastries.
    Cut phyllo with scissors.
  3. Cover phyllo with large sheet of plastic wrap and damp, clean kitchen towel. (Phyllo dries out quickly if not covered.)

  4. Lay one strip of phyllo at a time on a flat surface and brush immediately with melted butter. Fold strip in half lengthwise. Brush with butter again. Place rounded teaspoonful of filling on one end of strip; fold over 1 corner to make triangle.

    Lay one strip of phyllo down at a time when making pastries.
    Fold over one corner to make a triangle.
  5. Continue folding end to end, as you would fold a flag, keeping edges straight.

    Keep folding phyllo dough when making pastries.
    Continue folding. Keep the edges straight.
  6. Brush top with butter. Repeat process until all filling is used up.

  7. Place triangles in a single layer, seam-side down, on baking pan and bake according to recipe directions.

    Place phyllo dough triangles down on pan when making pastries.
    Place triangles on pan with
    seam-side down.

A strudel roll is another common way to use phyllo dough. Check out the next page for tips.

Not what you're looking for? Try these:

  • How to Make a Pie: A home-baked pie adds a perfect finishing touch to any meal. Fortunately, there are so many varieties of pie, it's easy to find one to complement any menu. Learn how to make a pie here.
  • How to Bake a Cake: Find basic instructions and definitions that will help you bake a cake in this article. You'll learn about everything from selecting the proper baking pan to cooling and frosting a finished cake.
  • Cooking: Learn the ins and outs of some basic cooking techniques in this helpful article.

How to Make a Strudel Roll

A strudel roll is similar to a jelly roll in terms of technique. A variety of delicious fillings can be made, placed on phyllo dough, and rolled up inside the pastry.

  1. Defrost phyllo as directed on package. Remove 6 sheets of phyllo from package; unroll and place on large sheet of waxed paper; cover with a damp towel.

  2. Place one sheet of phyllo on work surface. Lightly brush with butter. Top with second phyllo sheet. Lightly brush with butter and sprinkle with sugar or seasonings as directed by recipe. Place a third phyllo sheet over sugar or seasonings; lightly brush with butter and sprinkle with additional seasonings. Repeat three more times.

    Brush phyllo sheets with butter when making strudel roll.
    Brush phyllo sheets with butter.
  3. Spoon filling along short side of phyllo rectangle in 3-inch-wide strip, beginning 11/2 inches in from short side and leaving a 2-inch border on long sides.

  4. Fold long sides in over filling; lightly brush folded edges with butter.

    Fold long sides of phyllo over the filling when making pastry dough.
    Fold long sides of phyllo over the filling.
  5. Starting at the filled side, gently roll up, jellyroll style, forming strudel roll. Lightly brush roll with butter. Transfer to baking pan, seam side down, and bake according to recipe directions.

Phyllo blossoms are another great way to use this delicate pastry. Learn more in the next section.

Not what you're looking for? Try these:

  • How to Make a Pie: A home-baked pie adds a perfect finishing touch to any meal. Fortunately, there are so many varieties of pie, it's easy to find one to complement any menu. Learn how to make a pie here.
  • How to Bake a Cake: Find basic instructions and definitions that will help you bake a cake in this article. You'll learn about everything from selecting the proper baking pan to cooling and frosting a finished cake.
  • Cooking: Learn the ins and outs of some basic cooking techniques in this helpful article.

How to Make Phyllo Blossoms

Phyllo blossoms provide a delicate and delicious way to present various fillings, whether sweet or savory. Here's how to make them:

  1. Defrost phyllo as directed on package. Remove 8 sheets of phyllo from package; unroll and place on large sheet of waxed paper; cover with a damp towel.

  2. Place one sheet of phyllo on work surface. Lightly brush with butter. Top with second phyllo sheet. Lightly brush with butter. Repeat with remaining phyllo sheets.

  3. Cut stack of phyllo sheets in half lengthwise and then in thirds crosswise, to make a total of 12 squares.

  4. Gently fit each stacked square into a greased muffin cup. Spoon filling into center of each cup. Bake according to recipe.

    Place squares into greased muffin cup when making phyllo dough blossoms.
    Place squares into greased muffin cup.
Another form of pastry is the tart. Learn how to bake a tart in the final section.

Tip
To turn pastries a deep golden brown, brush tops with a mixture of 1 egg yolk and 1 teaspoon of water just before baking.


Not what you're looking for? Try these:

  • How to Make a Pie: A home-baked pie adds a perfect finishing touch to any meal. Fortunately, there are so many varieties of pie, it's easy to find one to complement any menu. Learn how to make a pie here.
  • How to Bake a Cake: Find basic instructions and definitions that will help you bake a cake in this article. You'll learn about everything from selecting the proper baking pan to cooling and frosting a finished cake.
  • Cooking: Learn the ins and outs of some basic cooking techniques in this helpful article.

How to Bake a Tart

Tarts have earned a reputation as difficult to prepare at home. Once the pastry dough is mixed and ready, many bakers trip up when they try to roll out and transfer the crust to the pan. Others end up with blind-baked, ready-to-fill crusts that are bubbled and unevenly cooked.

Try It!
Here is a pastry recipe from our collection:

With these simple tricks, however, even
amateurs can build their own reputation for great tarts -- starting with the crust.

Baking a Tart

Fillings for tarts may be savory or sweet.
  1. Once pastry dough is combined, press together to form ball. Wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate about 1 hour or until chilled.

  2. Remove plastic wrap from dough. Flatten dough into 5- to 6-inch disc. Lightly flour surface and rolling pin. Using rolling pin, roll dough in short strokes starting in the middle of the disc rolling out toward the edge.

  3. Rotate dough 1/4 turn to the right. Sprinkle more flour under dough and on rolling pin as necessary to prevent sticking. Continue to roll and rotate dough 2 to 3 more times. Roll out dough to 1/8-inch thickness.

    Roll out dough to bake a tart.
    Roll dough to 1/8-inch thickness.
  4. Trim dough to fit the tart pan or pie plate you intend to use. Trim dough 1 inch larger than inverted tart pan with removable bottom or 11/2 inches larger than inverted pie plate.

  5. Place rolling pin on one side of dough. Gently roll dough over rolling pin once. Carefully lift rolling pin and dough, unrolling dough over tart pan. Ease dough into tart pan with fingertips. Do not stretch dough.

    Roll tart dough into tart pan.
    Ease dough into tart pan.
  6. Cut dough even with edge of tart pan. (Roll and flute edge of dough if using a pie plate.)

    Cut dough so it's even with the tart pan when baking tarts.
    Cut the dough so it is even
    with the edge of the tart pan.
  7. Cover pastry crust with plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes to relax dough.

  8. Preheat oven to 400°F. Pierce pastry crust with tines of fork at 1/4-inch intervals, about 40 times.

    Pierce pastry crust when baking a tart.
    Pierce pastry crust with fork.
  9. Cut a square of foil about 4 inches larger than tart pan. Line tart pan with foil. Fill with dried beans, uncooked rice, or ceramic pie weights.

    Fill foil-lined tart pan with dried beans when baking a tart.
    Fill foil-lined tart pan with dried beans.
  10. Bake until set. Remove from oven. Gently remove foil lining and beans. Return to oven and bake 5 minutes or until very light brown. Cool completely on wire rack. (If using beans or rice, save to use again for blind baking. The beans or rice are no longer useable in recipes.)

  11. Proceed with your recipe, filling blind-baked pastry crust as directed.

Now that you're armed with the helpful tips in this article, you'll be ready to roll out the perfect pastry every time!

Not what you're looking for? Try these:

  • How to Make a Pie: A home-baked pie adds a perfect finishing touch to any meal. Fortunately, there are so many varieties of pie, it's easy to find one to complement any menu. Learn how to make a pie here.
  • How to Bake a Cake: Find basic instructions and definitions that will help you bake a cake in this article. You'll learn about everything from selecting the proper baking pan to cooling and frosting a finished cake.
  • Cooking: Learn the ins and outs of some basic cooking techniques in this helpful article.