About Cakes And Pastries
The word "Pastry" could either mean
1) The finished baked product, or
2) The paste made by mixing flour, water and shortening baked to a crisp crust for confectionaries like pies and tarts.
Pastries are the most common form of baked good, and are found in all bakeries. They are often consumed at breakfast or as snacks. As for the latter definition of pastry, there are 7 main types of pastry, namely
Flaky (Used to make pies and tarts. Basic ingredients are flour, water, fat and salt. A well-made flaky pastry should have evenly distributed flakes)
Puff (Rises the most evenly in the oven. Most flaky effect and crispiest texture)
Choux (Prepared by beating eggs into flour, fat and liquid, and cooking until smooth. The eggs make the paste "puff". Used in rich fancy cakes, eclairs, cream buns and profiteroles.
Phyllo (Consists of flour and water only. Dough is rolled out very thinly that it appears almost transparent. Pastry can encase a filling with butter spread in between the layers. Used in strudels.
Hot-water crust (Made by melting lard in boiling water, adding it to flour and kneading it to dough. Used in 'raised pies'.
Suetcrust (main ingredient is chopped suet. Used with sweet savoury filling)
Sweet dough (made from wheat flour and a relatively high percentage of sugar in the dough. Encompasses the widest variety of pastries)
Cakes, on the other hand require no definition. They are very versatile and come in a large array of shapes, colours, designs and tastes. For pastry chefs, the cake is an empty canvas - an outlet for the expression of creativity. Very often, the final products are delightful to the eyes. You may be surprised to know that the cake had humble beginnings - the very first cake was bread-like and sweetened with honey!
Cakes are a symbol of joy and togetherness, and are the highlights of a few occasions.
They have become an integral part of birthday celebrations since the 19th century in the West, while the tradition of lighting candles atop the birthday cake originated from Germany in the 18th century. It is amazing how the birthday song has a universally known melody and yet different countries sing it with varying methods and languages. The wedding cake is also a significant part of the wedding ceremony. Apart from being multi-tiered, it often showcases elaborate, elegant designs. The bride and groom feed each other a piece of the cake to symbolise their commitment.