Pastry is the name given to various kinds of baked goods made from ingredients such as flour, butter, shortening, baking powder or eggs. Small cakes, tarts and other sweet baked goods are called “pastries”.
Pastry may also refer to the dough from which such baked goods are made. Pastry dough is rolled out thinly and used as a base for baked goods. Common pastry dishes include pies, tarts and quiches.
Pastry is distinguished from bread by having a higher fat content, which contributes to a flaky or crumbly texture. A good pastry is light and airy and fatty, but firm enough to support the weight of the filling. When making a shortcrust pastry, care must be taken to blend the fat and flour thoroughly before adding any liquid. This ensures that the flour granules are adequately coated with fat and less likely to develop gluten. On the other hand, overmixing results in long gluten strands that toughen the pastry. In other types of pastry, such as Danish pastry and croissants, the characteristic flaky texture is achieved by repeatedly rolling out a dough similar to that for yeast bread, spreading it with butter, and folding it to produce many thin layers of folds.
Many pie recipes involve blind-baking the pastry before the filling is added. Pastry dough may be sweetened or perhaps unsweetened.