No more tasteless pastry for us

forays into pastry making

A little while ago Brenda was making apple strudels. I don’t know what got into her but she started making these infernal things and I had to keep on giving them away when she wasn’t looking. They were perfectly acceptable but after the 20th had been baked it seemed kinder to let other people enjoy them.

Now I’ll be frank. All the recipes included the use of pre-made pastry – in this case filo. I became aware that my taste buds were picking up no sense of flavour, and the texture was like thin cardboard. Her fillings were excellent so I know it wasn’t Brenda having a senior moment. She used different pastry brands but the end result was much the same. In my view that wasn’t very satisfactory and I informed her that she would be better off spending some time studying the art of pastry before we had to suffer any more.

Furthermore we have to think about Laura the lodger who is a coeliac and has problems with gluten. Therefore, this seemed like an excellent opportunity to see where we could take this exploration.

The first of these was to use ground almonds instead of wheat flour. It is difficult to make this seem like a gluey dough that will stick together, and it does take some patience because of its crumblier texture. However the results were significant- a great flavour and much better texture. If you’re serious about your pies and tarts then keep tuned here at as we are developing our art and will share with you the secrets as we learn them.

For the almond pastry:

300g ground almonds
1tsp sea salt
2 eggs
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
25g soft but not melted butter

Mix all the pastry ingredients together to create a dough. Chill for half an hour to an hour as it’s very sticky – while that’s chilling, put the oven on 200°C (180°C if fan assisted)

Meanwhile, use the time to butter a 24cm tart dish.

Take the pastry from the freezer and using a WELL floured rolling pin (we used potato flour for this just so we could inform Laura that there is no wheat in this dish at all) and roll out to approximately 3mm thick on flat greaseproof paper or baking paper. You will have to roll it carefully towards the edges because of its crumbly texture.

Then line the greased tin with your pastry -to do this pop the tin upside down over the pastry and and then you invert the whole thing – it is unfortunately quite delicate and by the way, feel free to fill any holes or gaps with the spare that you cut from the edges).

Line the tart dish with greaseproof paper, fill with baking beans (or anything else suitable), bake for 10 mins, remove from the oven and take out the parchment and baking beans and put the pastry case back in for another 10 mins to brown.This is better if its left to become a good biscuity colour.

At this point you are ready for the filling of your choice, sweet or savoury.

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