I once wrote that “life’s too short to make your own pastry”. After all, you can buy it ready made for £1.50 in the supermarket, why bother to make it? At the start of last year, or perhaps it was the very last days of 2013, I decided that I wanted to broaden my kitchen skills and making my own pastry seemed appealing. Not long after that, in mid January our oven stopped working and that put paid to all my baking plans until we purchased a tiny little mini oven in December. Since then, I’ve been trying to reintroduce baking into my days, partly for toddler entertainment, partly so I know what goes into our food, and partly for my own satisfaction. I can do things. I can learn. I can master basic skills.
Half fat to flour, and 1.5 teaspoons of cold water per ounce of flour. I grate the butter using a cheese grater so it’s easier to work in, and you have to touch it less which keeps it colder. I heard Mary Berry say that the trick is to keep it all very cold and so it must be true.
It’s not so much the cost of it. Yes, I think it works out cheaper overall: a block of butter is 98p, and a bag of flour is about 60p and you can get two lots of pastry out of one block of butter. But for me it’s more the achievement of making it myself. At a time where my creative time is limited it’s a satisfying outlet to be able to make something, especially when that something is what we’ll be having for our evening meal. And even more than that, it’s because I want my children to see me being competent and making our food from scratch rather than using convenience items. That’s probably not sustainable all the time – I am definitely of the “everyone ate something, nobody starved” opinion right now rather than getting upset because we haven’t all had our five a day. But my mum is a brilliant cook, she is so skilled in things like that and I don’t think I ever questioned whether or not she’d be able to make something. She just could. Isn’t that brilliant? And I’d love for my two to be able to see me doing so, and them learning to do it as well. Knowing how to do things makes me feel good, and proud.
We had a little bit of pastry left over and TTB and I turned it into teeny weeny jam tarts. They were about the size of a £1 coin and were absolutely delicious. I think they were the cutest thing I’ve ever made! We each ate 4 and didn’t feel the slightest bit guilty as they probably didn’t even equal the same amount as one full sized jam tart. These two photos make me disproportionately happy but I’ve learnt that if small, simple things make you shine with happiness then that’s no bad thing.