National Pastry Day! Yum!

By Diane Ruyack

What is light, puffy and filled with delicious fillings?  Pastry!

December 9, 2011 is National Pastry Day! It is a day of celebration for these divine baked goods! There are many different types of pastries including shortcrust, flaky, puff, choux, and phyllo. Pastry chefs must use a varity of culinary creativity and flavorings to create these amazing treats.

Pastry is not bread: Pastry has a higher fat content than bread. That’s why it is flaky and firms up the way it does. Different recipes call for different types of pastry dough. The main types of pastry dough are:

  • shortcrust (the most common)
  • sweetcrust (which is shortcrust with sugar added)
  • phyllo (sometimes spelled filo and is that thin, flaky pastry used in things like baklava)
  • puff pastry (a light, flaky, unleavened pastry where pastry is repeatedly rolled out after having fat folded into it )
  • flaky pastry (much like puff pastry except instead of folding and rolling out, large lumps of shortening are mixed into the dough)

Pastries were originally created by the Egyptians around 2600 B.C. The Egyptians made doughnut-like pastries out of crude flour and honey and then dipped them in wine.

In the 7th century in the Middle East, pastries further developed into a culinary art form. After the Crusaders brought these tasty recipes back with them to Europe during the Medieval Ages, Roman and Italian chefs were able to perfect the recipes and create many new ones.

Celebrate this rich history with a trip to your kitchen! Pull out your favorite apron and oven mitts and pretend to be a French pastry chef and whip up an éclair or a cream puff. Try a pastry from another country like puff-puff (Nigerian), baklava (Mediterranean) or samoosa (Indian). We can’t forget the Italians with their cannolis and pizzelles. Jewish culinary tradition includes Ashkenazic pastries like rugelach and hamentasch.

Since the holiday season is here, wouldn’t pastries be an awesome way to sweeten the holidays for your family and best friends!  A homemade gift of food is one of the best gifts anyone can give.

To celebrate, have a pastry party at the office or at home with family and friends! Invite each person or family to bring their favorite pastry to taste as well as the recipe. We, at the American Dairy Association, will be serving milk with all our pastries! Why don’t you! Everything goes better with milk.

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