Pastry can be very easy or very difficult. There correct measurement rather than a free hand gives the best results but experience of repeating a pastry over and over again you can up with its recipe embedded in your memory then do a pastry by heart.
Learning how to do Pastry can be a long process and it help if your parents help you learn from a young age. My Mum showed to me how to Normandy Syle Apple Pie so I know how to make a Shorcrust Pastry. But that is it. And the Pate Brisée I taught myself by following recipes.
The difficulty then reside on upscaling the amount of pastry you do need for how many person. That can be tricky if you are not too good at Maths like I am... but to my defence I had the score at Maths of the entire class (15/20was a decent mark) for My Baccalaureat which I had with honour of course there were other subjects like Litterature, Philosophy, English, German, History and Geography and Art. My dad cried that day when I received my Diploma knowing I was the best in my class.
Pastries are of the many pleasures of life. Eating it for Breakfast, at Tea time or during a small Break during the Day.
Anyhow I digress from the issue at Hand the Pastry. However I will add something I was working at my homeworks sometimes up until 3 am at night, I am saying that to tell you that Pastry takes time to learn to get it correct, and that by trial and errors you do get the experience of it. It is like cracking an Egg or separating the white from the yoke.
From the making of the dough, to sometimes the proofing of it, the knocking down stage, another proofing maybe, or the letting to rest of the dough in a fridge or at room temperature, the rolling of the dough or handmaking it to the shape you desire, the baking of it all in all it takes time to make, that is not including if you have to let the Pastry cool down may ready for other process like decoration...
Many Pastries have a few ingredients in common but not all pastries. A very common ingredient is Flour, it doesn't have to be only White Four plain or self rising, it can be all kind of Flours. Eggs are another common ingredients, and the same applies here it can be a different one rather than a free range fresh Egg, it could be a Duck Eggs for example but then you will need to expect different results but it can work. Milk is also often used, but it doesn't have to be Dairy Milk, because if you have an intolerence to Dairy you can choose good subsitute like Soy Milk.
Different types of Eggs: Duck Eggs in the Forefront and Brown Hen Eggs in the Background.
Other ingredients often used in Pastry making are Sugar and there again you have a variety of Sugars to from from Golden Caster Sugar to Demerara Sugar, passing by refined Cane Sugar. You can also substitute it with Honey. Then there is Butter. The same applies here, there are a great choice of varieties to choose from, Salted Butter, Unsalted Butter, Pasteurised, or not Pasteurised. A replacement for Butter could be Ghee.
Nothing stop you to use a very good Goats Butter either. It can give a little twist and unique Taste to your Pastry.
From the Pastries, let us start by the ShortCrust Pastries, it comes in three kind the simple one can be easily turned in a pate brisée, and then there is the Flan pastry. I will speak about it further on the page below this one. All I can say is the range of dishes from savoury to sweet are done with that Pastry, like the famous Quiche Lorraine, the humble yet delicious Potatoe Pie, the Cherry Tomatoes Tart, the Flamiche Picarde, Croustades, Flans of different fillings, the Apple Tart, Cornish Pasties, Lemon Meringue Pie, Custard Tart... You can see that ShortCrust Pastry is used for many Dishes. As I am building this culinary and gardening site bit by bit single handedly, you will be able to find the above recipes on my section about recipes at a later stage.
Coconut and Lemon Meringue Pie, my Man destroyed it very fast, there was none left the following day.
Then there is the Sweet Pastry: divided in two Pastries under that denomination. The Sweet Pastry which is enriched with Sugar. It is used for Fruit Tarts most commonly. Then there is Sandy Pastry which is more fragile to handle and to work however the result if achieve can gives you delicious Biscuits. The Sweet Pastry in general is the base for many tarts with a fruit content: the Strawberry Tart, You can use it for the of Cheese Cakes, Clafoutis, delicious Biscuits, even Mince Pies.
The Classic Strawberry Tart done with Sweet Pastry filled up with Creme Patissiére and of course topped with Strawberries. Luscious. A Spring and Summer Number when the Strawberries start to turn red.
We must mention one of my Favourite Pastry, the Puff Pastry. It is quite difficult to make and fairly time consuming. With all the layers of Pastry and butter folded one by one and refolded and refolded and... up until you have the resultof a lovely Pastry with multy light layers which will puff up in the oven. However you can shorten the time by making a Rogugh Puff Pastry which can take you roughly 20 minutes to half an hour. There is also the option to skip all that which is even faster which is by buying a premade one in the supermarket. You can make the famous 70's, 80's fashion of the time Vol au Vent, which are 40 years later now making a come back at cocktail Parties and Dinners. You can cover pies with Puff Pastrie but also do Meat, Fish, or Vegetables 'en Croute' entirely surrounded by the Puff Pastry. This tends to be a show stopper. You can also create 'The Palmier', a Biscuit with rolls on two sides which can be either savoury or sweet. Also Puff pastry is also used to make Cheese Straws.
The Classic Vol au Vent which can hold any fillings of your liking.