The History of Pastries

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Pastry is a dough that is mainly made by mixing flour, water, and shortening. Depending on the preparation it can be savory or sweetened. The mixture in pastry is usually rolled flat and often draped around or put over or under other baked foods such as pies and strudel. The term pastry covers a variety of baked product prepared from ingredients such as flour, milk, butter, shortening, sugar, baking powder, and eggs. Pastries form an important a delicious and essential part of daily meals served in restaurants, hotels, and homes. Many people often wonder about the origin of this great culinary.

The history of Pastry in different regions

Pastry traces its origin back to the ancient Mediterranean times. The Greeks, Romans, and Phoenicians all had some kind of pastry as part of their food. It is believed that these groups of people used filo-pastries. The filo-type is a simple pastry prepared by mixing flour and oil. Sweetening was achieved by using natural sweeteners available at the time. There are no much details concerning the pastry the Greeks produced. However, the Greeks had a clear distinction of pastry-cook from that of a baker.

The Romans combined water, oil, and flour to produce pastries. Amazingly the Romans did not eat this dough. They used it to wrap meat and fowl during roasting and baking and were later discarded. The wrapping prevented meat from desiccating at the same time helping to preserve meat juices and aroma. The edible variant was often served in large formal meals. This was prepared from a richer pastry that was subsequently divided into small pastries. Each of the little pastries wrapped eggs or small birds.

There is substantial evidence suggesting that Egyptians had a type of pastry in their food. The Egyptians had skilled professional bakers that prepared pastry in a relatively unique way using flour, honey, and oil as ingredients. They dipped baked flour cake in honey and topped it with desert nuts. Aristophanes’ (5th Century BC) record sweetmeats and small meat-filled pastries.

The Medieval Pastry

The late medieval period saw the onset of pastry recipes that resemble the modern puff and shortcrust. Different areas developed their own styles to cater for pudding and pies. Consequently, pastry style started evolving from the standard floor, far and water recipe. In Northern Europe, lard and butter were the fats used to make stiff pastry. Improvements on the coarse nature of the medieval era began. Fine white flour, sugar, butter, saffron and other ingredients were used to prepare the rich and smooth pastry. For example, the 14th century saw the rise in the popularity of the raised hot water curs. This pastry originated from Britain and was popular with meat and game pies. It was prepared by molding dough from the inside with a clenched fist. The space created by the fist was then filled before being baked to crisp brown color. The cookbooks of the medieval times do not record how to prepare pastries. It was until the mid-16th century moving forward that actual pastry recipes started appearing. The first recipe of what appeared as puff recipes is recorded in the Dawson 1596.

The Greek pistores are famed for the art of creating various forms in their pastry work. For example, they produced different shapes of bread that resembled mushrooms, crescent, braids among others. Puff pastry was developed in 1645 by Claude Gelee, a French painter cum apprentice cook. Claude was preparing rolled butter cake for his ailing father when he accidentally developed the laminated dough.

In the 17th century, pastry making was now trending. The art of pastries had significantly developed. Puff pastries together with flaky pastries were used for decorative pies. The French pastry chefs are credited for the many of the pastry recipe available today.


Today several types of pastries vary from the original pastry of flour, water, and oil.

Shortcrust pastry

This remains simplest and most popular pastries. It is prepared by mixing flour water fat butter and salt to make the dough. Shortcrust pastry is often used in tarts.

Puff pastry

Puff pastry has several layers that contribute to its expansion while baking. The ingredients are flour, water, salt, and butter. When baking, water and fat expand and cause the pastry to rise. This is why it is light, flaky and tender.

Choux pastry

It is light and filled with cream.

Flaky pastry

This pastry has many layers that cause it to expand when baked.


Phyllo is very thin pastry dough that comes in many layers. Phyllo is often flaky and delicate.

Hot water crust pastry

This pastry is mainly used for savory pies including game pies and pork pies. The ingredients are hot water, flour, and lard.