Knead to know: PASTRY and DOUGH

FlatbreadChapati (makes 6 x 20cm/8″ flatbreads)
3 cups (450g) wholemeal atta flour (chapati flour)
½ teaspoon salt
1¼ cups (approx. 300ml) warm water
Vegetable oil, for frying

Mix the atta flour and salt in a large bowl. Add the water and mix. Knead lightly for about 1 minute.
Allow the dough to rest in a covered, oiled bowl in a warm place for up to one hour.
Divide the dough into 6 balls. On a lightly floured surface roll out each ball with a rolling pin into a flattened circle, or free-form shape.
Heat oil in a frying pan until hot. Fry flatbreads for about 1–2 minutes each side, until golden brown.

Gluten free dosasGluten-free dosas (makes 6 x 20cm/8″ dosas)
1 cup chickpea (besan, gram) flour
1 cup gluten-free plain (all-purpose) flour
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1½ cups (375ml) water
Olive oil, for frying

Place flours, salt and soda into a large bowl. Gradually add water, and beat until smooth. Lightly oil a non-stick frying pan. Add ½ cup dosa batter and tilt the pan so the batter thinly coats the bottom. Fry for 2–3 minutes each side. Dosas can be kept warm in a low oven, covered with foil, until ready to serve; or refrigerated, covered, for up to 1 day and gently re-heated in a dry frying pan.

Shortcrust pastry
I’m by no means a pastry purist, and will happily crack open the Pampas if time is tight. Home-made pastry is lovely though, and well worth the trouble for special occasions. The trick is to bring the pastry together as quickly as you can, and to keep the ingredients (and yourself) well-chilled. Don’t over-knead it or the heat from your hands will melt the butter; and your pastry will end up chewy. Rub the flour and butter together with your fingertips only as your palms are quite warm. On really hot days, you can chill the flour before use too. I keep a freezer block handy when making pastry; and periodically lay my hands on it to keep them nice and cold. I’m not a fan of continually running my hands under a cold tap, as a pastry-encrusted tap is not a pretty sight and bloody hard to clean.

Sweet shortcrust pastry
4 cups (600g) plain (all-purpose) flour

¾ cup (110g) icing sugar (confectioners sugar)
300g (10 oz/2½ sticks) chilled unsalted butter, chopped

2 egg yolks, whisked

⅓ cup (80ml) chilled water

Sift the flour and icing sugar into a large bowl. Rub in the butter with your fingertips until the mixture resembles almond meal. Add the egg yolks and water, gently mixing, until the dough comes together.
Knead the dough quickly until just smooth. Shape the dough into two balls. Wrap in cling film (or pop in a container) and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (this will prevent shrinkage during cooking).
Makes approximately 36 fruit mince pies; or two round 23cm (9-inch) sweet tart bases.

Savoury shortcrust pastry
4 cups (600g) plain (all-purpose) flour
½ teaspoon salt

300g (10 oz/2½ sticks) chilled salted butter, chopped

2 egg yolks, whisked

⅓ cup (80ml) chilled water

Sift the flour into a large bowl. Add salt. Rub in the butter with your fingertips until the mixture resembles almond meal. Add the egg yolks and water, gently mixing, until the dough comes together.
Knead the dough quickly until just smooth. Shape the dough into two balls. Wrap in cling film (or pop in a container) and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (this will prevent shrinkage during cooking).
Makes approximately 24 small party pies; or two round 23cm (9-inch) tart bases.

  • Shortcrust pastry freezes well. Wrap in baking paper and store in an airtight bag for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge.
  • Egg whites can be frozen for up to one month, and thawed for future use. When separating the eggs, have an ice cube tray handy. Separate the egg over the tray, letting the white fall into one cube compartment of the tray. Freeze the egg whites in the ice cube tray, then transfer to a container with a lid, and pop back in the freezer. Thaw overnight in the fridge. Once thawed, whites will beat to full volume if allowed to sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

Wholemeal pastry doughWholemeal (wholewheat) sambusek dough
1½ cups (225g) white self-raising (self-rising) flour
1½ cups (225g) wholemeal atta flour (chapati flour)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
¼ cup (60ml) vegetable oil
1 cup (250 ml) warm water

Mix the flours, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and gradually pour in the water and oil. Mix lightly with a knife. Knead until smooth and elastic, for about 5 minutes, adding a bit more flour if it feels too sticky. Allow the dough to rest in a covered, oiled bowl in a warm place for 30 minutes, or up to 1 hour. Makes 12 sambusek. Recipe here.

Pizza base with sauceWholemeal (wholewheat) pizza dough
1¾ cups (250g) plain (all-purpose) flour
1 cup (150g) wholemeal atta flour (chapati flour)
3 tablespoons oat bran
2 teaspoons sea salt
1¼ cups (310ml) warm water
1 teaspoon caster sugar
2 teaspoons (1 sachet/7g) dried yeast
2 tablespoons olive oil
Extra flour, for dusting

Combine flours, bran and salt in a large bowl.
Combine water, sugar and yeast in a small bowl. Allow to stand for 8–10 minutes, until frothy. Add wet mixture and oil to flour and combine.
Dust your work surface with flour, and knead dough for 10–15 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Add a bit of extra flour if it’s too sticky.
Place dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and rest in a warm place for 1 hour (or up to 2 hours), or until doubled in size.
Lightly knead dough again for 20 seconds. Divide into two balls, and roll to desired shape.
Makes 2 x large (25cm/10″) pizza bases, or 40 x mini (7cm/2¾”) pizza bases. You can find recipes for Tandoori chicken pizza with fresh rocket here, Roasted cauliflower and chilli pizza here and Mini Lebanese pizzas here.

  • You can use your pizza bases at once, or refrigerate, covered, overnight. Pizza bases can be frozen, with baking paper between the layers, for up to 3 months. Allow to defrost in the fridge overnight.
  • Atta flour is a traditional wholemeal Indian flour made from durum wheat, with visible fine bran particles. Durum wheat has a high protein content, so doughs made from atta flour are quite strong and can be rolled out very thin. Atta flour is available from large supermarkets, Indian and Pakistani grocers.

How to roll Greek Easter bread doughHow to make Greek Easter bread (makes 2 loaves)
Above are step-by-step pictures illustrating the technique for making Greek Easter bread. You’ll find the recipe here. Knead the dough for 15 minutes (the perfect kid task). Set it aside in a covered oiled bowl in a warm place for 2 hours. Punch the dough down and knead again for a further 15 minutes. Divide the dough in half, add spices, and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Divide each portion into 3 balls, and roll each into a 35cm (13″) log. Place 3 dough logs side by side on a prepared tray and plait. Repeat with the remaining three logs. Cover each loaf with a damp tea towel, and allow to prove for one further hour. Glaze and bake.