The Christmas issue

Our December issue is out now, featuring Paul Carmichael's recipes for a Caribbean Christmas, silly season cocktails and more.

Subscribe to Gourmet

Subscribe to Australian Gourmet Traveller before 28th December, 2016 for your chance to win a share of $50,000!

Gourmet digital

Subscribe to Gourmet Traveller for your iPad or Android tablet.

Chilled recipes for summer

When the mercury is rising, step away from the oven. These recipes are either raw, chilled or frozen and will cool you down in a snap.

Decadent chocolate dessert recipes for Christmas

13 of our most decadent chocolate recipes to indulge guests with this Christmas.

What the GT team is cooking on Christmas Day

We don't do things by halves in the Gourmet office. These are the recipes we'll be cooking on the big day.

Sydney's best dishes 2016

For our 50th anniversary issue in 2016, we scoured Australia asking two questions: What dishes are making waves right now? What flavours will take us into the next half-century? Sydney provided 16 answers.

Paul Carmichael's great cake

"Great cake, also known in Barbados as black cake or rum cake, is a variation of British Christmas cake that's smashed with rum and falernum syrup," says Momofuku Seiobo chef Paul Carmichael. "This festive cake varies from household to household but they all have two things in common: tons of dried fruit and rum. It's a cake that should be started at least a month out so the fruit can marinate in the booze. Start this recipe up to five weeks ahead to macerate the fruit and baste the cake."

Shark Bay Wild Scampi Caviar

Bright blue scampi roe is popping up on menus across Australia. Here's why it's so special.

Summer feta recipes

Whether in a fresh salad or seasonal seafood dish, feta's creamy tang can be used to add interest to a variety of summer dishes.

Mango recipes

Nothing says summer like mangoes. Go beyond the criss-cross cuts - bake a mango-filled meringue loaf with lime mascarpone, start off the day with a sweet coconut quinoa pudding with sticky mango, or toss it through a spicy warm weather Thai salad.

Sweet pastry


A light and delicate touch is the secret to making melt-in-the-mouth pastry, writes Emma Knowles.

You'll need

400 gm (2 2/3 cups) plain flour 120 gm pure icing sugar, sieved Scraped seeds of 1 vanilla bean 240 gm cold butter, cubed 1 egg, chilled

Method

  • 01
  • Combine flour, icing sugar, vanilla seeds and a pinch of salt in a food processor and process to combine.
  • 02
  • Add butter, pulse until fine crumbs form.
  • 03
  • Beat egg lightly, then add to mixture.
  • 04
  • Pulse to combine, turn onto a work surface.
  • 05
  • Bring pastry together with the heel of your hand, form into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until required.

Note This recipe makes about 800 gm.


Pastry making is one of those kitchen tasks that even some of the most confident cooks baulk at. It seems to have an intimidating reputation. Bone out a lamb leg? No problem. Fillet a fish? Consider it done. But pastry? Uh-uh. Which is a shame, really, because it's not so difficult, and the difference between shop-bought pastry and the handmade product is enormous. So if making pastry is one of your fears (you know who you are), now is the time to make the leap of faith.

Sweet pastry is one of the foundation stones of desserts. Master it and a world of tarts and pies awaits, from light and fruity summer tarts to rich, satisfying winter treats.

The ingredients are basic pantry staples - flour, sugar, butter and usually some kind of liquid. It could be iced water, milk, or in this case lightly beaten egg, which enriches the pastry. But the secret ingredient is a light and delicate touch.

There are several methods for making sweet pastry. Some recipes call for you to cream softened butter with sugar before stirring in flour and liquid. This method will give you a crisp pastry case, perfect for wet fillings such as custards and creams.

In other recipes (this one included), you incorporate the cold butter into the dry ingredients in a food processor (or using your fingertips) to form a fine crumb-like texture, then add the chilled liquid. In the summer months, it's a good idea to chill the bowl and blade of your food processor. Keeping the ingredients cool will make the pastry easier to handle and help ensure a crumbly texture; you don't want to cream the butter. Mix to only just combine, turn the mixture onto a work surface, and then bring it together quickly using a technique called fraisage. Using the heel of your hand, rub small amounts of the mixture along the work surface and continue until the mixture forms a dough. This method pulls the butter around the flour, while ensuring the dough isn't overworked. The result? A delicate, crumbly short pastry that melts in your mouth. This style of sweet pastry is perfect for chunky, fruity fillings.

Once you've created a dough, knead it lightly, form it into a disc, wrap it in plastic wrap and rest it in the refrigerator. Resting is important, once when the dough is first made, and again when the pastry is rolled. This gives the gluten time to relax (giving new meaning to the phrase "chill out"), which reduces the chances of pastry shrinkage.

You can freeze the pastry at this stage; just take it out of the freezer the night before you want to use it and thaw it in the fridge. It's great to have some stashed in the freezer so that when you want to bake a tart or a pie, you're a step ahead in the cooking process.

This quantity of pastry is enough to make two 23cm-diameter tarts, one 25cm-diameter deep-sided pie, or 18 small tartlets (try it out on our fruit mince tarts recipe). You can re-roll the scraps without the pastry toughening up too much, which is handy for making pie lids or pastry shapes to decorate tarts.

This recipe flavours the pastry with vanilla, but you could lightly spice it with cinnamon or nutmeg instead, or give it a citrus twist with finely grated lemon, lime or orange rind. You could also replace some of the flour with ground nuts for a different texture. The options are many; just be guided by the filling you plan to use and choose a complementary flavour for the pastry. And of course you could keep it plain and simple and add no extra flavouring at all. Because a pastry as good as this speaks for itself.


At A Glance

GT
Signature Collection

Find out more about the Gourmet Traveller Signature Collection by Robert Gordon Australia, including where to buy it in store and online.

Read More
The GT x STILY
Christmas Boutique is now open

The smallgoods, homewares, art and more from the pages of GT are now all under one roof, ready to take their place under the tree.

Read More
Gourmet TV

Check out our YouTube channel for our latest cover recipes, chef cooking demos, interviews and more.

Watch Now

At A Glance

Featured in

Dec 2010

You might also like...

Kourabiedes

recipes

Little almond crostate with roast pears

Strawberry recipes

recipes

Rhubarb and raspberry crostata

A-Class Cookies

recipes

Chestnut cakes with raisins, pine nuts and honey

Honey recipes

recipes

Apple and mascarpone torta

Christmas ham recipes

recipes

Chocolate and hazelnut zuccotto

Winter tart recipes

recipes

Olive oil and vin santo torta with candied oranges

Six excellent sweet bun recipes

recipes

conversion tool

 
get the latest news

Sign up to receive the latest food, travel and dining news direct from Gourmet Traveller headquarters.

×