My favorite thing to do with dough is to make little pockets or little cups out of it and stuff it with different things – vegetarian and meat. The littler the better given the serious rolling deficiency! I have used pie dough, puff pastry and phyllo dough to make mini-muffin cups. Each of them gives the cups a different texture and makes for a different experience. I’ve stuffed them with paneer, shrimp, sausage, chicken, corn, even bhel puri once and they’ve all tasted great! It’s the perfect appetizer for any get-together. People just pop one in their mouths while walking around. In fact I can safely say that if I am hosting a party and make these cups, my guests are quite happy.
The most interesting dough for me at least is choux pastry. It is the easiest to mix up and can be made without a food processor and if you have a strong hand you don’t even need a mixer; you can beat in the eggs by hand. There are several recipes on the website above so I’m not going to put one here. But what I really like about this recipe is how creative this dough is. The trick of the recipe is to soak the flour with water and butter. Then when the dough is baked off at the right temperature the outside sets and the water inside the flour turns to steam causing the dough to puff up. Just like a roti. Except in a roti the layers are thin so they collapse on one another when the steam escapes. But in a choux pastry the outside sets firm so the result is a baked good that is crisp on the outside but hollow on the inside. How cool is that! It is the perfect piece of starch to fill up. Make small little round ones and fill it with whipped cream and it’s called a cream puff. Make long thin ones and fill it with custard and top with a ganache and it is called a chocolate eclair. Make big round ones about 2-3″ in size and fill it up with chicken salad or tuna salad and it’s called a sandwich. I’ve done this and served it up to guests at tea and they have been quite a hit. But with my new oven in India the trick for me is to get them to cook without burning. Every oven is different and the one I have here is a convection oven which tends to get hotter. Most recipes will tell you the temperatures for a regular oven so I have to experiment to find the right setting for my oven especially since these little mounds of dough are so sensitive to temperature. In fact I tried making these on the day we had hubby’s aunt over and with the temperature setting not working out for me, I had pastries which were slightly burnt on the bottom. I served them as is since I had no other option, but the aunt was nice enough to say that she prefers the burnt bottoms! Who needs motivation when you have such encouraging family!
In the US, we once had these yummy pastries called churros at a flea market (the churros were the best thing we found there) which was basically dough that the vendor was frying up in front of us. They were crispy and sugary on the outside and warm and soft on the inside. We later found out that the dough is in fact also choux pastry. My love for this pastry grew when I discovered this. So I can also fry this baby up to get crisp snacks that are soft on the inside like pakoras. Such a multi-tasker this dough is, just like us.
I think that about wraps up the story of my love affair with dough. Not that that’s all there is to say. But the other vignettes will keep creeping in as the blog posts go on. For now I need to move on to something else. Because man cannot live by bread alone.