Ask Judy – Canola Oil Pastry: Is it really possible?

Q: Is is really possible to make pastry using canola oil?

A: Yes it is possible to make pastry using canola oil and here is how…

Pie pastries are one of the most delicate of all baked products to make successfully. Success in making a great pie pastry depends on the right proportions of ingredients and the correct preparation techniques. It takes skill to correctly distribute the fat and to mix the dough just long enough to create a flaky, tender crust.

Most pastry recipes contain only 4 ingredients:

1. flour
2. fat
3. liquid
4. salt.

Optional pastry ingredients:

Other ingredients such as ground nuts, vinegar, vodka, baking powder, etc.

The role of fat in pastry

The proportion of fat is probably the most important determinant to ensure a flaky, tender crust. The type of fat used in making pastry crust plays a role in the finished product. When fat is cut into small, cold, pieces, the fat melts during baking. It leaves empty spaces where steam may collect to leaven and lift the layers of dough. These spaces create the ‘flakiness’ of pastry. To maximize flakiness, it is important to keep all ingredients and utensils as cold as possible.

Ingredient order matters

The fat is added to the flour, before the liquid, to protect the flour from the addition of water, and therefore, the problem with gluten development. (In a nutshell, gluten development will result in a less tender crust.)

Type of fat used = different pastry

Different types of fat, used in pastry making, produce different end results. Shortening and lard produce flaky crusts. These fats coat the flour easily and result in a fairly pliable dough.

Butter and margarine may be used in pastry making but their water content causes increased gluten formation. And, once refrigerated, the doughs which contain butter harden and it is then difficult to roll out the dough.

Using frozen CANOLA OIL, in pastry making, results in an extremely tender pastry with slightly grainy texture. The frozen canola oil will mimic a solid fat! How cool is that? However, you will need to prepare your oil in advance. The CANOLA OIL will need 2 hours, to harden, in the freezer.

frozen canola oil in measuring cup

Addional ingredients in pastry

The use of additional ingredients only enhances the flavours of pastries. Eggs will help to tenderize the pastry. Sugar will, of course, sweeten the pastry but it also acts as a tenderizer by competing with the flour for water.

Sugar, as well as milk and egg,  will aid in the browning of the crust. Vinegar or lemon juice may be added to the pastry, on the principal that the acid will help to inhibit gluten formation, and therefore produce more tender crusts.

Ground nuts contribute great flavour when added to the doughs. Adding baking powder will aid in the rising of the crust.

The following pastry recipe produces a nutty, tender crust that you can use for any recipe in which the pie crust is baked before adding the filling. It is a great tasting crust and you can vary the flavour by switching the almonds to hazelnuts or replacing the vinegar with lemon juice or maybe even lime juice.

Still not sure about making pastry?  You can follow along step by step in Jenn’s blog post “I Don’t Make Pastry” as she made a meat pie for her family.

Be Well…Judy

Ask Judy Guest BloggerJudy is a home economist, educator, food stylist, recipe developer & tester, mom, lazy gardener and Zumba enthusiast.  She welcomes the opportunity to experiment with new food items and share her passion and creativity with her clients, family and friends.

She is the food stylist for and as well as many other clients.  If you have a recipe or ingredient question for Judy be sure to send it in to [email protected] or leave it in the comment section below.

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