Saturday, May 29, 2010

Melt-in-your-mouth pastry

Funny how I woke up today and only one filled my head: shortcrust pastry. Why? Beats me. Maybe it was the mini-mushroom quiches I gobbled down at the American Idol screening on Wednesday night haunting me ... or maybe it was just one of my many cravings.

So, I got out of bed, made myself a, a mug of strong milk tea, had a shower and got down to it. Shortcrust pastry is so easy to make and I wonder why I sometimes cave into my laziness and buy the ready-made frozen sheets in the supermarket when they're so freakishly expensive. Dumb me.

Anyway, today I wasn't lazy. In fact, I was feeling especially industrious. Why not? It was a Friday and it was a public holiday ... which meant a three-day weekend. Whoopee. I had a whole box full of extra mung bean paste from a week ago (the result of my angku kueh) and I decided to try making mung bean pastry balls.

Shortcrust pastry can be used for pies, quiches, tarts ... a number of savoury and sweet dishes. You can season it with salt or sugar, depending on what you're using it for. I decided on salt.

You just need three ingredients: Flour, butter and egg or chilled water.

First step: Sift the all purpose flour. I used 200g and usually you use half the ratio of fat: so, 100g butter.

Make sure your butter is chilled, not melted. I used Amul butter for the very first time for no reason other than curiosity. Went to an Indian speciality grocer in Brickfields a fortnight ago and saw it and bought it. I am a sucker for anything different and attractive, even butter! Anyway, butter is butter and nothing spectacular to report here. :)

Step two: Cut the butter in cubes into the flour. Using your finger tips, crumble the butter into the flour until the mixture looks like coarse bread crumbs. Add a pinch of salt and roughly toss the crumbs to incorporate the salt.

Now, to bind the butter-flour crumbs together, you can use chilled water (about 1-2  tbsp) or, for a richer pastry, egg (about 1/2 to 2/3).

I chose egg.

Beat a whole egg and add half into the crumbly mess. Using your hand, form the crumbs into a dough ball. If you need a little more, spoon as much as you need in. Don't use too much; just enough to make the mixture come together into a ball.

Still using your hands, flatten out the ball of the dough until it is about 2cm thick.

Divide it in half or quarters. I cut mine in quarters and decided to freeze two quarters for  another day. I was only making tea for myself after all, not catering a party!

If you're freezing the pastry, wrap it firmly in cligfilm first. If you're using all the pastry, it's still a good idea to roll out portion by portion so the pastry does not dry up too quickly. While you're rolling one, wrap the remaining in clingfilm and set aside first.

Roll one quarter of the dough into a  ball, flatten with your palm and divide the dough into small balls, slightly bigger than a 20sen coin (or half  the size of  a golf ball).

Meanwhile, prepare the filling by rolling 1/2 tbsp sized scoops of the beans (you can use any filling you please; some make pineapple tarts this way too) into balls.

Depress the centre of the mini dough balls till it forms a well, fill with the mung bean balls. Re-seal and roll into a ball, carefully as you don't want the filling to come out. Repeat. Brush tops with egg wash.

Grease a baking sheet with butter and line the sheet with the pastries. Bake at 200C for 15 mins or till golden on top.

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