If you’ve been following the Great British Bake Off series then you’ll no doubt have heard the phrase ‘soggy bottom’ bandied around frequently over the weeks. It refers of course to the underside of pastry. When you’re manipulating pastry, you really need to keep it light, crispy and golden. If your pastry ends up with a soggy bottom, the chances are, it’s undercooked, under-proved, or both. Making pastry is no mean feat, something which was demonstrated by the contestants on the televised show. If you’ve ever tried making it before, it’s quite possible that you encountered some difficulties along the way. So how can you avoid the dreaded ‘soggy bottom’? Follow these tips for perfect pastry.
Keep it cold
You may well have heard that for pastry to turn out well, everything needs to be kept cold. This of course, includes your hands. The cooler they are, the less greasy the fat will become, resulting in crispy pastry, rather than a soggy mess. You can keep your hands cool by rinsing them in cold water for a few seconds. When it comes to mixing all of the ingredients together, consider using a food processor to start the process off – this will prevent everything from becoming too hot.
Remember to glaze
Glazing your pastry doesn’t really have much effect on the taste, but really improves it from an aesthetic perspective. By glazing your pastry with an egg wash prior to cooking and as soon as you remove it from the oven, you’ll ensure that it has a lovely glossy sheen, which will give it a professional finish.
Leave to prove
The proving stage is the one that is easy to forget about, but when neglected, has the biggest impact on the overall look, structure and taste of the pastry. For pastry to crisp up nicely, it needs to take a break from all of the kneading. Wrap it up in cling film and leave it to chill in the fridge for a minimum of half an hour before rolling into shape.
Ensure it is cooked evenly
There’s nothing worse than a pie with burnt-to-a-crisp pastry on top, cold insides, and a soggy bottom. If you notice it starting to cook too much on the top side, then place a foil cover over the top to protect it from burning.
By baking your pastry blind (without any filling), you will ensure that it cooks through evenly and stays crispy. Remember to place baking beans on top of your pastry to prevent it from rising too much. Add the filling in once the pastry is cooked and then warm in the oven until piping hot all the way through.
Greaseproof paper, not grease
Where possible, try to avoid greasing the tin before you bake the pastry – it’ll only make it greasy and less likely to cook properly. Of course, it is not wise to put the pastry straight into the tin as it will stick to the sides. Instead, use greaseproof paper which can easily be peeled from the pastry once cooked and cooled.
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Hayley Spring is a freelance blogger and works in the catering industry. She is currently writing in conjunction with AGA who have more than 150 years of iconic design and uncompromising quality.