Promises and pie-crust are made to be broken.
~ Jonathan Swift ~
A flaky (pastry) start
My granny’s pastry recipe has been the pastry we’ve used since I was a child. Then when I did home economics at school I learnt that proper puff pastry is made with layers of cold butter. Okay, our recipe didn’t use cold butter – curious. Later I learnt about shortcrust pastry – rubbing cold grated butter into the flour. Hmm – that’s not what happens in our unique recipe either. So what does this weird recipe entail? Butter (lots of it) melted with hot water!
Puff or flaky or rough puff?
Yes, that is certainly strange if you know about puff or flaky pastry. I decided that my pastry must go by another name and did some research on the Internet. But recipe after recipe calls for cold butter and warns against letter the butter get warm. Yet there it is in my granny’s handwriting in my mom’s scrapbook that you sift the dry ingredients together, grate the butter on top and then pour a cup of boiling water over the lot and mix. Well it’s obviously not proper puff pastry then, is it? But it’s not shortcrust pastry either, or even the rough puff pastry recipe which seems to be a hybrid between the two. The resulting pastry is perfectly delicious though. And no, it’s not as flaky and layered as proper puff pastry, but it does the job of making pie better than the shop-bought stuff. Yes, shop-bought puff pastry is lovely and convenient, but never quite the real deal.
All’s well that ends well (and this certainly does)
When I first published this post I was hoping that someone clever will enlighten me as to what this type of pastry is actually called. It only took one clever friend to set me right luckily, and she is a pro baker! Anita Vogt was born in South Africa but now lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She started a home bakery, The Regal Shortbread Company and makes amazing shortbread and other delicacies. So now I know that my pastry is called Hot Water Pastry. I have decided that my research will in future include Googling all the ingredients before I give up! I have now also learnt that Hot Water Pastry is usually used specifically for savoury pies – especially English Pork Pies. It clearly also works for Chicken Pie!
Hot Water Pastry
- 4 cups flour
- 5 ml salt
- 450 g butter
- 1 cup boiling water
- Sift the dry ingredients together and mix.
- Grate the butter on top of the dry ingredients.
- Add the boiling water and stir until all the butter has melted and the flour has been mixed in.
- Form a ball of dough and divide into two equal pieces.
- Refrigerate for at least two hours or freeze in a plastic bag for later use.
- If you want the same convenience as having shop-bought pastry dough in the freezer, make the dough and freeze it. Give it 5 to 6 hours to defrost before needed, but keep it in the fridge as it is much easier to work with if still cold.