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Delia's Quick flaky pastry
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75g block butter or block margarine
110g plain flour
A pinch of salt
A little cold water
To make the pastry the fat needs to be rock-hard from the freezer, so first of all remove a pack of butter from the fridge, weigh out 75g then wrap it in a piece of foil and return it to the freezer or freezing compartment of the fridge for about 45 minutes.
Sift the flour and salt into a large, roomy bowl. Take the butter out of the freezer, remove the foil, or if you prefer fold back the foil and hold it in the foil, which will protect the butter from your warm hands. Then, using the coarse side of a grater, placed in the bowl over the flour, grate the butter, dipping the edges of the butter onto the flour several times to make it easier to grate. What you will end up with is a large pile of grated butter sitting in the middle of the flour.
Now take a palette knife and start to distribute the gratings into the flour – don't use your hands yet, just keep trying to coat all the pieces of fat with flour. Now sprinkle a tablespoon of cold water all over, continue mixing with the palette knife, adding a further 1 to 2 tablespoons more water. Start to bring the whole thing together with the palette knife, and finish off using your hands. If you need a bit more moisture, that's fine, just dab on a little more with your fingers – just remember that the dough should come together in such a way that it leaves the bowl fairly clean, with no bits of loose butter or flour anywhere.
Now pop it into a polythene bag and chill for 30 minutes before using.
Remember, this, like other pastries, freezes extremely well, in which case you will need to defrost it thoroughly and let it come back to room temperature before rolling it out on a lightly floured surface.
How to roll pastry
a) Rolling to a round
Before the pastry is rested pat it into a round shape. Then place the rested dough on a lightly floured surface and use a rolling pin that is absolutely straight. Lightly dust the pin with flour and rest it on the centre of the dough. Place the flat of your hands lightly on each end of the pin and begin to roll the dough backwards and forwards (don’t be tempted to roll from side to side), gently and evenly, re-dusting the pin and the surface very lightly with flour if you need to stop the pastry sticking. Give the pastry quarter-turns as it expands and, provided you continue to roll backwards and forwards and not side-to-side, it will roll out into a round shape that will keep its shape and not shrink as it cooks.
b) Rolling oblongs or squares
As above, before resting pat the dough into the shape that you want. Then after its rested just knock the sides gently with the rolling pin to keep it in the shape you want, give quarter turns – as for a round – and then square it up using the rolling pin to knock the edges into shape.
This recipe was first published in December 2013.