Pastry’s so simple… or is it?

We like to do all sorts of different things in our conversational English class, and having had  great success with strawberry related items, including strawberry jam tarts, we thought today we would have a little session on pastry. Betty’s brilliant jam tarts had caused quite a stir, and it seemed as if lots of our ‘students’ don’t know how to make ‘English’ pastry. I volunteered to do a demonstration of pastry making which would also focus on some grammar, the use of the imperative tense.

I had all my equipment ready at hand, and ingredients, and some pastry I had already made this morning, and after our introduction, once every one had looked through the vocabulary sheets and games I’d given out, they all gathered round. I thought this was going to be so simple… Al pastry needs is flour, fat, water and a gentle hand.

Lois: Right, the first thing you need to make pastry is flour, plain flour –
Betty, Debbie, Julie, Fran (the other English teachers): No you don’t, you need self-raising!
Lois: no, it has to be plain…
Betty, Debbie, Julie, Fran: No, we always use self-raising…
Debbie: Do you put baking powder in your plain flour?
Lois: Er… no… Anyway, weigh your flour and add a pinch of salt.
Fran: I don’t add salt…
Lois: Oh… ok… Well, next you need some fat, half the quantity of fat to flour… (pauses in case anyone disagrees…) … and you need two sorts of fat, butter or margarine, and lard or vegetable shortening –
Chorus of English voices: No, only butter! No, never margarine! No, just lard – lard makes a nice soft pastry! No, just lard – lard makes a nice crispy pastry!
Lois: Well, whatever, anyway I keep whatever the fat is out of the fridge so it’s soft and easy to rub in –
Fran: I always use mine straight from the fridge so it’s really hard, it makes the pastry nice and crisp.
Lois: Good grief! I thought this was going to be an easy lesson!

It actually was a very successful lesson, and we had cheese straws and Danish pastries with our coffee (I had bought pre-made puff pastry for the Danish – so at least there was no discussion on that!


  1. David Lewis

    My wife says that there is some kind of voodoo involved in making pastry or pie dough. I tend to agree and think there is some sort mystery in the kneading.

    Liked by 1 person

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