Having made the paste, prepare and mix your pudding or pie. When the mixture is finished, bring out your paste, flour the board and rolling-pin, and roll it out with a short quick stroke, and pressing the rolling-pin rather harder than while you were putting the butter in. If the paste rises in blisters, it will be light, unless spoiled in baking.
Then cut the sheet in half, fold up each piece and roll them out once more, separately, in round sheets the size of your plate. Press on rather harder, but not too hard. Roll the sheets thinnest in the middle and thickest at the edges. If intended for puddings, lay them in buttered soup-plates, and trim them evenly round the edges. If the edges do not appear thick enough, you may take the trimmings, put them all together, roll them out, and having cut them in slips the breadth of the rim of the plate, lay them all round to make the paste thicker at the edges, joining them nicely and evenly, as every patch or crack will appear distinctly when baked. Notch the rim handsomely with a very sharp knife. Fill the dish with the mixture of the pudding, and bake it in a moderate oven. The paste should be of a light brown colour. If the oven is too slow, it will be soft and clammy; if too quick, it will not have time to rise as high as it ought to do.
In making the best puff-paste, try to avoid using more flour to sprinkle and roll with, than the small portion which you have laid aside for that purpose at the beginning. If you make the dough too soft at first, by using too much water, it will be sticky, and require more flour, and will eventually be tough when baked. Do not put your hands to it, as their warmth will injure it. Use the knife instead. Always roll from you rather than to you, and press lightly on the rolling-pin, except at the last.
It is difficult to make puff-paste in the summer, unless in a cellar, or very cool room, and on a marble table. The butter should, if possible, be washed the night before, and kept covered with ice till you use it next day. The water should have ice in it, and the butter should be iced as it sets on the paste-board. After the paste is mixed, it should be put in a covered dish, and set in cold water till you are ready to give it the last rolling.
With all these precautions to prevent its being heavy, it will not rise as well, or be in any respect as good as in cold weather.
The handsomest way of ornamenting the edge of a pie or pudding is to cut the rim in large square notches, and then fold over triangularly one corner of every notch.
COMMON PASTE FOR PIES.
A pound and a half of sifted flour. Three quarters of a pound of butter--washed.
_This will make one large pie or two small ones_.
Sift the flour into a pan. Cut the butter into two equal parts. Cut one half of the butter into the flour, and cut it up as small as possible. Mix it well with the flour, wetting it gradually with a little cold water.
Spread some flour on your paste-board, take the lump of paste out of the pan, flour your rolling-pin, and roll out the paste into a large sheet. Then stick it over with the remaining half of the butter in small pieces, and laid at equal distances. Throw on a little flour, fold up the sheet of paste, flour it slightly, and roll it out again. Then fold it up, and cut it in half or in four, according to the size of your pies. Roll it out into round sheets the size of your pie-plates, pressing rather harder on the rolling-pin.
Butter your pie-plates, lay on your under crust, and trim the edge. Fill the dish with the ingredients of which the pie is composed, and lay on the lid, in which you must prick some holes, or cut a small slit in the top. Crimp the edges with a sharp knife.
Heap up the ingredients so that the pie will be highest in the middle.
Some think it makes common paste more crisp and light, to beat it hard on both sides with the rolling-pin, after you give it the first rolling, when all the butter is in.
If the butter is very fresh, you may mix with the flour a salt-spoonful of salt.