Tender Savory Pastry: Hot-Water Pastry, Pâte À Pâté

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About
Hot-water pastry, or pâté pastry, is unlike the other pastries. Its original purpose in medieval times was to provide a sturdy container for meat dishes meant to be kept for some time (p. 560). Today it’s used to enclose meat pâtés, to make meat pies, and sometimes as an alternative to puff pastry that surrounds the tenderloin in beef Wellington and the salmon in coulibiac. It is easily rolled out and formed into a container, able to retain juices released during cooking, yet tender to both knife and tooth. It’s made with a relatively large amount of water—50 parts per 100 flour—and about 35 parts lard. The water and lard are heated together near the boil, and the flour is then added, the mixture stirred just until it forms a homogeneous mass, then rested. The large proportion of fat limits gluten development, thus providing tenderness, and also acts as a kind of water repellant, thus providing a barrier against cooking juices. The precooking swells and gelates some of the flour starch, which takes up water and gives the dough a thick, workable consistency in place of an elastic gluten structure.