Masterclass guide to pastry making – Bar & Kitchen

Masterclass guide to pastry making

Whether it’s a buttery puff pastry pie, crisp filo or an elegant choux dessert, pastry-making is one of the most essential and versatile skills to master in the kitchen.

Our regular masterclass chef, Matt Owens, is National Chairman for the Craft Guild of Chefs, which supports chefs with training and development. Previously executive pastry chef at the Four Seasons Park Lane and Waldorf hotels, he shares top tips to get the best out of the six main types of pastry.

Here are our recommendations for pastry dishes, whatever your venue:

Chicken and Mushroom Quiche

Mini Portobello Wellingtons

Walnut and Pistachio Baklava

Three steps to perfect pastry

  1. Pastry brings so much creativity to your menu. It’s great to make your own shortcrust or suet pastry, but there’s excellent ready-made puff pastry and filo pastry on the market that gives perfect results every time.
  2. Weigh ingredients correctly, keep the butter cold, and don’t overwork pastry to stop it getting glutinous and tough. Roll pastry out between cling film, silicone sheets or just a little flour to avoid it drying out.
  3. Pastry freezes well, so you can store leftovers for up to three months, and always keep a block of pastry to hand in your freezer.
Pastry shapes


Perfect for pies, quiches, pasties, empanada or tarts, shortcrust can be sweet or savoury.

Homemade shortcrust gives an artisan feel and increases your price point if flavoured with herbs, cheese and seeds, or orange zest and cocoa. Whizz it up in a food processor or by hand, but always rest the pastry in the fridge after lining the tin.

Bake shortcrust blind by lining the pastry case with two sheets of cling film and filling with flour; you can use baking beans and greaseproof paper, but cling film is perfectly safe and gives a smoother finish. Baking blind gives a crisper pastry for raw or wet fillings such as a quiche or tarts, but precooked fillings – for chicken or apple pies, for example – don’t need this step.



Thin sheets of filo pastry are popular for Middle Eastern baklava and desserts, Eastern European strudels, or as a lower fat pastry alternative for pies and tarts.

Strudel-style filo desserts are a great way to use up leftover fruit, and baking buttery layers of filo between two tins makes an impressive tart case. Keep filo under a damp cloth while you’re cooking to stop it drying out, and always brush with butter or oil to get a crisp, golden finish.



Elegant, sweet eclair and choux buns or savoury beignets and fritters showcase choux pastry as its best. For a savoury version, Pommes Dauphine is mashed potato mixed with choux and deep fried to create a deliciously decadent appetiser or side.

Choux can be complicated to make as it requires a lot of beating; a hot oven gives the initial lift followed by lower temperatures to dry the pastry out. Ready-made powders such as Choutex are quicker with more consistent results, and you just add water.



Steamed or boiled sweet and savoury puddings are wrapped in a hearty layer of suet pastry, made with just flour, beef or vegetarian suet, and a dash of water or milk. Use for traditional steak and kidney puddings and dumplings – or try a jam roly poly or Sussex pond pudding with a whole lemon inside for an impressive dessert.

Suet pastry is easy enough to make yourself and is a great way to use up leftover beef suet.



Buttery layers of puff pastry are the star of sausage rolls, turnovers, tarts, galettes and so many appetisers. There’s no need to bake your own puff pastry as you can buy such excellent quality on the roll or in sheets for both sweet and savoury recipes.

Rough puff or flakey pastry is easier to make as it requires less folds; it’s not as airy as puff but does bring a homemade feel. Full butter puff pastry gives better colour, flavour and finish, especially if you brush it with egg or milk before baking.

Viennoiserie is a type of puff pastry, but it’s yeasted lamination that’s used to make croissants, Danish and other breakfast pastries.


Hot water crust

This is a very traditional pastry for raised pies, gala and pork pies. You mix boiling water, lard, butter and fl our, and shape it into the tin while it’s still warm. Cook it together with meat filling and add jelly once cool.

Don’t make too much hot water crust at once, as you have to work with it while it’s warm. Always line the mould evenly to avoid thick lumps of pastry and season the filling well.

Is it vegan?

A lot of shop-bought puff , shortcrust and filo pastry is vegan. While puff and shortcrust are traditionally made with a lot of butter, Jus-Roll and other major brands use vegetable oil to make it vegan. Suet pastry can be made vegetarian. Always check the labels.

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