Nailing the perfect, flaky pastry starts with good pastry dough. Pastry dough is made from a mixture of flour, fat, cold water and salt. The flour provides structure while the fat acts as a tenderizing ingredient, inhibiting the development of gluten in the flour. The salt adds flavor while the liquid (typically water) moistens the flour so that sufficient gluten can be developed to form a cohesive dough. The function of fat in baking is as a tenderizing ingredient.
However, some types of flours and fats perform better than others and produce tastier baked goods. When selecting ingredients for pastry dough, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Choose the Right Ingredients
First, make sure to avoid flour with too much gluten, as it produces a tough, undesirable crust. Although essential for breads, it is not recommended to use in pastry. Instead, use a low-gluten, pastry flour (8.5-9.5% protein). This will provide a tender crust that has enough structure without being tough. In a pinch, all-purpose flour can work as well; a compromise between hard and soft wheat is recommended (10-12% protein).
When selecting a fat, there are a few options to choose from. The most common fats used are shortening and lard, as they produce tender, flaky crusts. Options include high oleic soybean oil, palm oil, butter or lard.. The type of fat selected depends on the baked good, as demonstrated below.
For pie crusts, high oleic soybean oil-based shortening provides consistent and desirable results. It produces pie crusts with evenly browned, textured, flaky crust, an ideal finished product height and minimal crust shrinkage. It’s also versatile, performing equally well under hand-rolling and a pie press. In addition, high oleic soybean-oil shortening reduces moisture uptake in pie crusts, preventing them from becoming soggy and helping to maintain excellent texture.
At colder temperatures, palm shortening is considerably firmer and more brittle than other fats, which makes it difficult to handle during pie crust production and inhibits proper fat distribution in the dough. It also results in thinner crusts, due to improper fat distribution. Palm oil-based shortening can also provide inconsistent browning and shrinkage, causing the crust to break easily when hand rolled. While lard is a viable option, it allows for more moisture migration than both soybean oil-based shortenings, leading to less consistent results.
(High Oleic Soy Shortening)
A puff pastry is a flaky light pastry, made from laminated dough composed of dough and fat layers. While butter is traditionally considered the gold standard of puff pastries, soy-based baker’s margarines are viable alternatives. These margarines are formulated with high oleic soybean oil, conventional soybean oil or combinations of both.
The ideal puff pastry will show even layer separation and puff height and maintain height after baking. Palm-based margarine produces pastries with the least amount of height, resulting in pockets rather than layers in finished rolled and baked dough. It also can lead to excessive browning, does not result in a flaky honeycomb structure and does not provide desired puff height. While butter-based pastries showcase the greatest height, the layers may topple over after baking.
High oleic soybean oil baker’s margarine maintains its plasticity under both cool and warm temperature conditions compared to alternative margarines and allows for a longer working temperature range for the dough. It outperforms palm oil in puff pastries, in terms of finished bake height and structure, as well as desired flakiness. And, when compared to butter, it provides a pastry that keeps its layered height.
For pastries that require frying, such as donuts or fry pies, high oleic soybean shortening is an excellent frying choice. It features a neutral flavor profile, allowing the ingredients’ flavors to truly stand out.
High oleic soybean oil also allows for extended fry life. It performs longer than standard vegetable oils in high-temperature and extended-use applications because of the heat and oxidative stability of the oil. The oxidative stability index (OSI) of high oleic soybean oil is greater than 25 hours, which translates to cost savings for foodservice operations.
It also provides improved resistance to oxidation and reduced build-up of polymers on foodservice equipment in high-heat applications, leading to less equipment maintenance and lower operating costs.
KEEP NUTRITION IN MIND
It’s always important to keep in mind the nutritional value of the ingredients you’re using. Soybean oil is predominantly composed of unsaturated fats, such as Alpha-Linoleic Acid (ALA), a plant-derived Omega-3 fatty acid. High oleic soybean oil also contains lower saturated fat and three times the amount of beneficial monounsaturated fatty acids, compared to many conventional vegetable oils, which benefit heart health when consumed within the suggested daily serving amount of 1.5 tablespoons (20 grams).
In fact, the FDA authorized the use of a qualified health claim for oils high in oleic acid, including high oleic soybean oil, and their relationship to a reduced risk of coronary heart disease when replacing oils higher in saturated fats. The claim can be added to the labels of qualifying high oleic soybean oil-containing products.
So next time you’re crafting perfect pastries, keep high oleic soybean oil in mind. Not only will it help to produce and fry up a delicious pastry, it boasts heart-healthy benefits as well.
Learn more about the benefits and uses of soybean oil-based shortening and high oleic soybean oil for food industry applications at food.ussoy.org