Friday, February 1, 2013

Friday Recipe: Pastry

Harriet, the jacket, is done blocking, and Isabel and I are now in negotiation over the colour for the version she'll model for the pattern. She likes bright; I don't, at least not for this garment. Guess you'll have to wait to see who wins on this. My version went outside in our -19C windchill (though snowless) this morning for some more photos. Not as good as having an actual person doing the modelling, but better than the bedroom floor.
First shot taken at the front of the house. So convenient that some previous owner stuck a nail in the bricks between the two front windows. I'm really going to miss this photo venue. Perhaps I'll have to talk to the new owners about visitation rights.

Next shot taken in the back against the fence separating our property from our neighbour's.

A closeup of the diagonal increases out from the arms.

View of the back shoulders.

Finally, here's why checking your gauge AFTER BLOCKING is so important. The above jacket was knitted at 4 sts per inch on a US #8/5mm needle. The swatch below, in Elann's Peruvian Highland Chunky (colour: mid-indigo), was knitted in three sections: the bottom section on a US #8/5mm, the next on a US #9/5.5, and the top on a US #10/6.0. The eyelet rows simply demarcate the needle size changes.
I was wondering what needle size to use to get the same 4 sts per inch. Before blocking, it looked as though the US #10 had won. After blocking, the US #9 was the winner. As they say, "Save time and check gauge." Of course, if you've used a yarn before you can be reasonably certain about your needle size, but even then, some colours take dye differently and there's no such thing as absolute certainty.
Now for today's recipe. I thought I would give you my favourite recipe for...

All-Purpose Pastry

A lot of people have “pastry phobia”. I hope this easy, reasonably healthful version will get them over it. I use this for both sweet and savoury dishes, everything from fruit pies to quiches. It’s extremely quick, ridiculously simple, and delicious, and best of all, there’s no flour mess all over your counter and floor. What more could you ask for?

2 c unbleached flour (you may include up to ½ c whole wheat flour)
½ tsp salt (optional, depending on what’s in the filling)
½ c canola oil
½ c water
waxed paper
rolling pin or substitute such as a wine bottle or large glass

Stir the flour and salt together in a bowl. Add the water and oil and combine gently with a fork, then once everything is moistened, your hands. I move the resulting ball around the bowl to grab every crumb of flour, BUT DON’T OVERMIX OR KNEAD, or your pastry will get tough. Remember, knead bread, not pastry. If you’re making something with a top and bottom crust, divide into two balls; otherwise leave as one.

Moisten your countertop and place a sheet of waxed paper down (the dampness will hold it in place while you roll out the dough). Place a ball of dough on the paper and flatten it a bit with the heel of your hand. Then place a second sheet of paper on top. Roll from the centre out until the desired size is reached. Peel the top sheet off and lift the pastry, placing it bottom up into your baking dish. Peel the bottom sheet off and shape it in place, making sure to ease out any air bubbles from underneath. If you are using a top crust, repeat the procedure.

Notice that I haven't given any instructions at this point for how to bake this pastry. That's because it depends on what you plan to do with it--and there's so much you can do. Just think--apple galette, tortiere, quiche, pot pie, pumpkin pie, butter tarts, the list goes on. I think I'll spend the next few Fridays on some of pastry's best friends.