Ask Paul


Paul simply loves giving advice to help you perform better in the kitchen.

Question of the week

This weeks question comes from Keith 

Keith asks:

Hi Paul Although I love to bake cake and bread, pastry has always been something I shy away from and purchase ‘ready to roll’ from the shops. However, I have been gathering courage to start making my own and realise that there are things about which I am unclear. The bit I’d like to understand is when to use cold butter. It seems that sometimes instructions emphasise keeping everything cold, cold, cold and some times when to use room temperature butter, or sometimes they suggest something in-between, i.e. cubed butter left out for 20 minutes. Is this for different types of pastry? Do they turn out differently depending on the temperature of the butter? Thanks for your help, Keith.


Paul says:

Hi Keith, I always use cold butter for any pastry and softened butter when baking cakes. When baking pastry keeping the ingredients cold helps the pastry to be crisp and not tough as it inhibits the formation of the gluten. So by using cold butter it won’t melt into your flour. Liquid helps flour swell and gluten to form. Good luck with your pastry making and I would suggest that you start with shortcrust pastry and progress from there. Happy Baking!


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