Anneka Manning, a food author, mum of two and passionate baker behind BakeClub, joins us each month to share some of her industry tips, tricks and 25 years worth of experience. Today, she gives us her foolproof tips for making pastry in hot weather and shares her simple, seasonal Free-Form Summer Tart Recipe.
Five Top Tips for Making Pastry In Hot Weather
Generally, pastry doesn’t like the heat. Like some of us, it’s one of those things that just doesn’t behave well when it becomes warm. The main reason for it not being a hot-weather lover is that the butter in the pastry tends to melts when it gets warm, making it difficult to handle and heavy and greasy once baked.
Luckily there are a few things you can do to help your pastry from becoming warm and a little ‘sensitive’. Here are my top 5 tips for making pastry in warm weather…
1. Always keep the ingredients as cool as possible. Make sure you butter and water are well chilled. Use your butter straight from the fridge and add a few ice cubes to your water to make sure it is extra cold. Chilling your flour in the fridge before you use it will also help.
2. Use a food processor to make your pastry. Making your pastry in a food processor is quick, efficient and means you aren’t touching it with your warm hands for any length of time. If you don’t have a food processor and need to use your hands to rub the butter into the flour make sure you only use your fingertips – don’t use your palms as this this is the warmest part of your hands and is likely to cause the butter to melt. Also keep the palms of your hands facing upwards while you lift the flour to rub in the butter as this will help keep the mixture cool.
3. Use a cold bench top to roll your pastry. On warm days, chill your bench top by placing a freezer bag filled with ice cubes on it for a couple of minutes then wipe dry before lightly flouring and rolling out your pastry.
4. Handle the pastry as little as possible when mixing and rolling. Be mindful that overworking the pastry will again encourage the butter to melt making it hard to handle and tough when baked.
5. Always rest the pastry. Place the pastry in the fridge both before rolling and, in really hot weather, after rolling and before baking. This will help ‘set’ the butter again and make for a better, more ‘short’ pastry.
So let’s get into the kitchen and whip up one of my all-time favourite summer desserts that marries the best of the summer fruits with a reliable, easy-peasy shortcrust pastry crust! What’s your favourite summer dessert?
Free-Form Summer Tart Recipe
This tart is simplicity at its best – gorgeous summer stone fruit encased in a sweet, easy-peasy pastry. No real structure, slightly rustic and it lets the seasonal stone fruits shine. And to top it off, the Yoghurt Cream, with it’s subtle tartness, is a perfect accompaniment.
Preparation time: 25 minutes (+ 20 minutes chilling time)
Baking time: 35-40 minutes
- 25g (1/4 cup) almond meal
- 700g firm but ripe stone fruit of your choice (such as peaches, nectarines, plums and apricots), pitted and cut into thick wedges
- 2 tablespoons raw sugar
- Icing sugar, to dust (optional)
Sweet Shortcrust Pastry Ingredients
- 225g (11/2 cups) plain flour
- 2 tablespoons icing sugar, sifted
- 150g chilled butter, diced
- 2-21/2 tablespoons iced water
Yoghurt Cream Ingredients
- 200g tub Greek-style yoghurt
- 125ml (1/2 cup) pouring cream
- 1 tablespoon icing sugar, or to taste
- 1 teaspoons natural vanilla essence or extract
What You Do:
1. To make the pastry, place the flour, icing sugar, salt and butter into a food processor and process until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
2. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the iced water over the flour and butter mixture and then use the pulse button to process until the mixture just starts to come together. Press a little of the mixture between your fingers – if it holds together easily, there is no need to add more water. If it doesn’t add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon water process briefly to combine. The pastry should be soft but not sticky.
3. Turn the pastry onto a lightly floured, cool bench top and lightly knead the pastry with your fingertips for about 30 seconds or until the pastry is smooth and soft. Shape the pastry into a disc, wrap well in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 20 minutes to rest.
4. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
5. Use a lightly floured rolling pin to roll out the pastry on a piece of non-stick baking paper to a 30cm round (it will be about 5mm thick). Use the paper to transfer the pastry to a large baking tray. Sprinkle the pastry with the almond meal leaving a 5cm wide boarder around the edge. Spread the fruit over the almond meal and then fold the pastry board up over the fruit. Sprinkle the upturned boarder and fruit with the sugar. Bake in preheated oven for 35-40 minutes or until the pastry is golden and crisp.
6. Meanwhile, to make the Yoghurt Cream, use a balloon whisk to whisk the yoghurt, cream, icing sugar and vanilla in a medium bowl until it thickens slightly. Cover and refrigerate until required.
7. Serve warm or at room temperature in wedges with the Yoghurt Cream.
- This tart is best served warm but it is also great served at room temperature. It will keep covered in the fridge for up to 2 days. Stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes before serving.
- The Sweet Shortcrust Pastry can be made up to 3 days before using. Wrap well in plastic wrap and keep in the fridge. Stand at room temperature for 30-60 minutes (depending on the weather) until softened slightly, enough to roll easily.