DIY or Store-bought?

Goodies ready for French Breakfast

What is better, DIY or store bought? Back in the day I would always buy things that I potentially could make, just because it was either easier, faster, I didn’t have the confidence to try or I just couldn’t be bothered, but there is got to be something said for making basics yourself.   You know what has gone into it, and it also gives you a certain satisfaction to have made something from scratch.

I’m talking bread, pastry, pasta …. Those things that if you have the basics in your pantry you can make your own.

I have been making my own bread since I got my first bread maker back when I was 21, and there is nothing better than the smell of fresh bread baking, in fact I think it helped us sell a few houses, I threw the bread making on and timed it beautifully to be baking around the time of an open home, it provides those lovely homely smells.  I have been quite daring and made my on hot cross buns, focaccia, croissants, Pain au chocolat, bagels , pizza bases, brioche for years, you can get them just the way you like it, however there is an art, they do take time and can sometimes be temperamental depending on the weather.  Nothing beats home made though.  In saying that, I have cheated a lot of the time and used my bread maker to make the dough, so my new mission over the next few months is to get into doing a lot more myself by hand.   I have a book a foodie friend recommended so I’m armed with all the info I need to do it right now.

http://www.breadbookutopia.com/the-bread-bible/

A close friend of ours that is now a chef in LA was staying with about six years ago and got me into making my own pasta.  It’s not as hard as I thought.  Of course back in those days I used to roll it with my rolling pin, so by the time it was ready to eat I had worked up an appetite, these days I have a pasta machine and it makes it a lot easier.  But pasta is great to make, flour, eggs and either oil or water and you’re set, the general rule of thumb is 1 egg per 100 gms flour, don’t forget to let the dough rest, laminate the dough, you want a nice tight dough and of course it cooks faster if it’s fresh (about half the time of dried pasta).

Pastry is another basic that’s as easy as pie, mind the pun, once you get the hang of it.  Flour, butter, salt and water.  Things to remember are to keep the butter as cold as you can (when making it and working it), rest the dough in the fridge, more butter for short and flaky pastry, flaky pastry takes longer as you need to laminate the butter in (much like croissants).

Once you can master these three basics, you’ll be surprised at the options that present themselves to you when open the cupboard/fridge to see what is there to make for dinner, no longer do you need to reply on having bread, pasta or pastry in stock, you can just make it yourself…. The world is your oyster.

Happy Cooking.

LL

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. Jessica says:

    What does laminating mean? & have you ever tried making pastry with something dairy-free like olivani? X

    1. Hey there. Lamination is term for the process of alternating layers of dough and butter when making pastry. The dough is wrapped around butter (so that the butter is completely enclosed in dough and cannot slip out), the “package” is rolled out, folded over to double the number of layers, and then the whole thing is repeated. Each time the dough is folded, it is called a “turn.” The more turns your laminated dough has, the more flaky your finished pastry will be. Laminated doughs include puff pastry, croissant dough and danish dough.

      Technically the fat used to make a laminated dough could be something other than butter and the name would be the same, but the best tasting and best looking laminated doughs use butter. Butter is essentially made of milk fat/solids and water. When heated, the water in butter turns to steam. The thin layers of butter in laminated dough cause the dough to puff up and rise during baking, giving croissants and puff pastry their layered and crispy look, and the milk solids in the butter cause the pastry to brown – and, of course, taste delicious.

      So, back to your question of making a dairy free pastry, you could probably manage a short crust pastry, while I haven’t made it myself there seem to be a few recipes out there that use something like olivani and add the same about of either lard or shortening, Some even claim to be able to achieve flaky pastry with a dairy free substitute, but I don’t think the outcome would be the same, because of oil won’t turn to steam like milk fats would, it would probably just fry the pastry from the inside instead.

      Have a look at these websites for recipes. Good luck!!
      http://allrecipes.co.uk/recipe/25542/dairy-free-shortcrust-pastry-pies.aspx
      http://dairyfreecooking.about.com/od/pastries/Pastries.htm
      http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2011/feb/26/olive-oil-pasties-recipe-lepard

      1. Jessica says:

        Wow, I had no idea there was so much to it. I shall never take a croissant for granted again. Thanks for the detailed reply my love. You are truly a kitchen genius

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