pastry, general name for baked articles of food made of paste or having paste as a necessary ingredient. The name is also used for the paste itself. The essential elements of paste are flour, liquid (usually milk or water, sometimes beaten egg), and shortening. The making of pastry was known to the ancient Greeks and Romans, but its modern development in the Western world dates from the late 18th cent. Pastry is classed according to the amount of shortening used and the method of blending it with the flour as plain, flaky, and puff pastry. Plain pastry is used to cover meat or fruit pies; flaky pastry, which requires more shortening than plain, is used in strudels and the Turkish baklava. Puff pastry is used in the making of cream puffs and éclairs.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.