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Page:Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.djvu/992

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atmospheric air to which puff paste entirely owes its lightness. The difference between puff, or flaky and short crust is that in the former there are thin layers of air and pastry alternating, and in the latter the air fills small cavities all over the paste.

Puff Paste usually consists of flour and butter in equal proportions, but in short crust the proportions of fat and flour vary, and may be one-fourth for an economical paste, or three-fourths for a rich short crust. For ordinary purposes ½ a lb. of butter or fat to each lb. of flour, will, with the addition of a good teaspoonful of baking-powder, make a sufficiently rich crust. Fine starchy flour makes the lightest pastry, the larger proportion of gluten in household flour—although exceedingly valuable from a dietetic point of view—tends to make pastry, tough. Flour should always be stored in a cool, perfectly dry place. By sieving it before use, air is introduced, and if there are any lumps these may be rubbed out, with the result that the pastry will be lighter. When baking-powder is used it should be sieved with the flour, as this ensures its even distribution.

The amount of liquid required to moisten a given quantity of flour varies within narrow limits, but it may be approximately stated as being ½ to that of the flour. As a rule, 1 lb. of flour will need about ½ a pint of water, but allowance must be made for the addition of eggs, or when the fat has been reduced to a semi-liquid condition by undue friction, or prolonged contact with hot hands. The consistency of the butter determines the amount of water to be added to puff paste; when the butter is soft the paste must be equally so, otherwise it is impossible to keep the layers separate, and thus the paste is deprived of some of its flakiness. Rich short crust is lighter and more crumbly when made very stiff, but unless plain short crust is sufficiently moistened it is hard and tough. Lemon-juice, like other acids, tends to make pastry lighter.

Butter and Fat.—The butter used for making pastry should be good and sweet, for nothing imparts its own unpleasant flavour to everything it comes in contact with more decidedly than inferior butter. Salt butter is not objectionable, if before being used it is well washed, and afterwards squeezed in a floured cloth to free it from moisture. Rancid butter may have some of its disagreeable flavour removed by kneading it first in new milk and afterwards in water. For ordinary pastry clarified fat may be recommended in preference to lard or dripping, for it is entirely free from the fatty taste which characterizes the purest home-made lard, while that bought ready prepared is frequently adulterated, and, moreover, has occasionally a strong, unpleasant taste. The objectionable characteristic flavour of dripping may be in some measure removed by creaming it, that is beating it with a knife on a plate, and raising it well with every movement of the hand, so as to subject every part to the purifying influence of the atmosphere.

Manipulation.—The fat should be lightly, but very thoroughly, rubbed in with the tips of the fingers, never with the palms of the hands. The