Which dough should you use for what?
Whether you’re making a cake, cookies, buns or pizza, it’s worth knowing which type of dough to use for what, so that you end up with something delicious. Professional bakers and pastry chefs draw a distinction between pastry doughs and batters or mixes. According to the experts, dough consists primarily of flour, while batters and mixes are mainly made of eggs, sugar and butter, with only a little flour, or none whatsoever. As such, mixtures tend to be rather runny or fluffy in consistency, while doughs are firm and can usually be kneaded. Choux and biscuit mixes would be classed as batters. So much for the theory: now on to the individual types of dough, their purposes and, of course, plenty of tips and suitable recipes.
The mini Monsieur Cuisine dictionary of dough
A fool-proof mix that anyone can make. The main ingredients are eggs, sugar, flour, butter and baking powder. You don’t need to do anything except mix all of the ingredients together. In fact, you won’t even need to use the kneading function on your Monsieur Cuisine. As all the ingredients are simply mixed together, it’s one of the quickest batters to make. There’s no long standing to prove or chilling in the refrigerator. After it has been mixed, the dough can be poured directly into a suitable tin. Batter that runs slowly off the spoon is the perfect consistency. It will become fluffier if eggs are gradually beaten in one by one. As a rule of thumb, if you’re adding dry ingredients like cocoa powder to the mix, you’ll also need to add a little liquid. Classic baked treats that use cake mix include marble cake, lemon cake, flan bases and muffins. Grated carrot, courgette and pumpkin can also be added to cake mix to great effect. Just give it a try!
The pastry for all biscuit-lovers. Short pastry is ideal for all kinds of cookies or biscuits, but is also suitable for cake or tart bases, or for the casings of savoury quiches. Experienced bakers call it 1-2-3 dough. If you don’t have a set of scales to hand, it’s still easy to portion out the ingredients, as 1-2-3 stands for the ratio you need to use. Just note down the following order: 1 part sugar, 2 parts butter and 3 parts flour. A little tip: the finer the sugar, the less dense the dough will be. To make a good short pastry, use the ingredients cold. If your dough is too sticky, simply put it in the refrigerator for a little while. Generally speaking, it’s best only to resume working with the dough once it has been in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Leave it for an hour to be on the safe side. Short pastry is particularly easy to roll out if you place it between two sheets of baking parchment or pieces of cling film first. When making cookies or other flat biscuits, be mindful of the baking time: short pastry tends to harden and go dark very quickly.
Lots of people shy away from this kind of dough. Your Monsieur Cuisine and our tips are on hand to help you get it right first time, whether you’re going for a sweet or a savoury version. Let's start with the basic ingredients. You’ll need yeast, flour, sugar, salt and milk or water. The recipe might also call for butter and eggs. The most important ingredients, however, are time and a little love.
What is yeast, exactly? Yeast is an organic raising agent. Baking powder, by contrast, is a chemical raising agent. When activated by heat and moisture, yeast releases carbon dioxide, causing tiny bubbles of gas to form. The dough begins to rise and increase in volume. Temperatures of around 30° Celsius are ideal for yeast. You could play it safe by ensuring that all of your ingredients are already at room temperature when you start making your dough. We recommend covering your dough with a tea towel and placing it in a warm and sunny (but not draughty) place to rise. For one thing, this prevents flies from landing on the dough, and it also traps heat and moisture beneath the tea towel, so the dough can prove. Leaving the dough ‘to prove’ means waiting until it has doubled in volume, at which point you can carry on working with it. It will be even better if it has risen to three times its original volume. This can take up to two hours, so it’s best to factor in a bit more time if you're planning on inviting family and friends round for a make-your-own pizza session.
Some people claim that you shouldn’t put yeast dough in the fridge, but that’s a myth. If you’re only going to be needing the dough the next day, it’s fine to leave it in the fridge overnight. The yeast will simply slow down its reproduction process. The next day, just make sure that you take your dough out of the fridge in plenty of time so that it can get back to room temperature. It will rise up beautifully again, at which point you can use it in the normal way.
Fresh yeast or dried? This dough can usually be made with fresh or dried yeast. The advantage of dried yeast is that it keeps for longer and is easier to store. The downside is that emulsifiers have often been added to it, so that it no longer has the distinctive yeasty smell and taste. By the same token, proving times for dough made with dried yeast tend to be longer if you want to achieve maximum volume and fluffiness. Fresh yeast has to be used straight away, as the older it is, the less your dough will rise!
As a rule of thumb, 1 sachet of dried yeast (7g) is enough for 250g flour, and 1 cube of fresh yeast (42g) is enough for 500g flour.
With a little loving care and patience, you’ll be churning out breads and pizzas in no time!
Quark and oil dough
This is dough in a jiffy. It has to be kneaded like yeast dough, but it doesn’t require any yeast itself. As a result, it’s just as quick to make as cake mix. This dough works brilliantly as a sweet version for fruit tart bases or nut slices, or for savoury tarts or pizza bases. Basic ingredients might include flour, salt or sugar, baking powder, quark, milk and – yes, you guessed it – oil. For sweet versions, you should always use a neutral-tasting oil like rapeseed. A savoury tart or pizza dough can take a flavoured oil – olive oil, perhaps.
Quark and oil dough is very easy to knead, but don’t do it for too long, as the dough may turn tough. To keep the dough nicely fluffy, don’t leave it lying around after kneading it; better to get baking with it straight away. You’ll end up with a looser, more pillowy dough if you drain the quark first, thus reducing the amount of liquid that goes into it. Quark and oil dough is great for freezing. Once you’re ready to cook it, simply leave it to thaw to room temperature, and you’re good to go.
This pastry is extremely high-maintenance. It is used for sweet pastries filled with apple or cherries, and can also serve as a base for a savoury quiche. The complicated thing about this pastry isn’t the ingredients, but the method of preparation. The basic ingredients are flour, water, salt, sugar and butter. So far, so easy. But now it gets difficult. Once you have made the basic dough, you then have to refrigerate it for roughly 30 minutes. Now you roll it out, fold it in the middle and put it back in the fridge. This process is repeated at least three times. The repeated rolling and chilling phases mean that this isn’t one for impatient pastry chefs and explain why most people buy this product ready-made.
Very few people make this dough themselves, as it’s easy to buy Danish pastries and the like from the local bakery. Poppy seed buns, pains aux raisins, croissants and cinnamon rolls are all beloved classics. What’s so complicated about this pastry? Making it is as time-consuming as puff pastry and yeast dough put together. The basic dough contains yeast, so it needs to be kneaded, but it also requires folding and refrigerating like puff pastry. In other words, you need to have an abundance of patience and genuine enthusiasm to commit to making this pastry. But it pays off in the end. After all, there’s nothing quite like whipping out some homemade cinnamon rolls when friends come round.
To round off our mini Monsieur Cuisine dictionary, we’ve put together a little section on batters and mixes, which you can use to conjure up utterly delicious baked treats and other goodies.
This is the ultimate in cake mixes. It can be used to make a cream-filled Swiss roll that wouldn’t look out of place at a birthday party. But this ‘dough’ lends itself to all sorts of sweet treats. The main ingredients are eggs, sugar and a little flour. Some recipes also call for butter and cornflour. The addition of a little baking powder leads to an airier sponge. The special thing about this mix, as opposed to other versions, is that the egg white and yolks are either beaten until frothy or whipped to form stiff peaks separately from one another, rather than added at the same time. Tip: Take chilled eggs out of the refrigerator and don’t let them get up to room temperature; they’re easy to separate if they’re cold. When beating egg whites, be sure to whip them a little first before adding the sugar. A pinch of salt or drop of lemon juice will make them stiffer. Freshly whipped egg whites should be added to the batter last, so that they retain their fluffiness. The finished mixture should now be baked straight away, so that the air beaten into the mixture stays locked in and the finished result isn’t too dense.
One more tip when baking a sponge: don’t grease the baking tin; simply line it with baking paper. The mixture needs a grease-free edge for it to ‘scramble up’.
If you’ve baked a sponge on a baking sheet to make a Swiss roll, only add the filling and roll it up once it has cooled. It’s fine to put it in a normal tea towel to roll it up, but do it carefully, as sponge breaks very easily.
If you love cream puffs, then you’re bound to be a fan of this type of pastry. It is used to make all sorts of delicacies, not least eclairs and profiteroles. The main ingredients are eggs, butter, flour and water or milk. What makes this pastry a little different is that you apply heat during the preparation process. First of all, the liquids are boiled up together with the butter. The flour is then added and stirred until the mixture has become a ‘dough ball’ that comes away from the edge of the pan. Only now are the eggs added, little by little, until you have a velvety choux pastry. The mixture then goes into a piping bag and is piped onto the baking sheet in the shape of your choice.
Now you have all the information you need to fashion your own pastry treats. We hope you have lots of fun getting your bake on.