Top 8 readymade pastries

READYMADE pastry is a terrific standby. Fill shortcrust with something savoury for an easy lunch, or with seasonal fruit for a quick dessert dish.

I don’t use baking beans, but bake pricked with a fork, uncovered in the oven for a crisper finish. If the pastry rises just pat it down.

The shortcrust pastry samples which made the final eight here, are good for cutting out shapes with children for biscuits. Bake and finish off with a dusting of finely grated chocolate or vanilla-flavoured icing sugar.

I have been experimenting with layering puff/flaky pastry with more savoury ingredients, and one of my successes for emergencies is herbed and slightly spicy, thick tomato sauce. Bake the layers first, then layer up, finishing with grated Parmesan. The result is very tasty.

Palm oil is used in many readymade pastries. It is a useful, cheap ingredient, but can come at high price for Indonesia and Malaysia where deforestation is rampant and animal welfare threatened. Look for brands that source palm oil ethically.

Our samples today were all delicious and worth using.

Happy new year!

Roll It Gluten free 400g €5.50

Top 8 readymade pastries

This all-butter pastry for coeliacs needs to be rolled out to cover a 23cm tart tin or eight tartlets. Instead of wheatflour there are rice, potato and maize flours, with egg and butter to enrich it. The result is very good, crisp and tasty. A great product for coeliacs and anyone else. Sweet and plain shortcrust (€3.99) and puff (€4.40) are available for non-coeliacs. See rollitpastry.com for stockists. Terrific to see these products made in Co Meath

Score: 9.25

Jus-Rol filo pastry 270g €3.45

Top 8 readymade pastries

I think of filo as quite fiddly and would never make it myself, so this box of seven (very low fat) sheets of ready rolled frozen is a good buy. Use for parcels of vegetables and fish, traditional baklava. Antonio Carlucci has a good recipe with mushroom filling at bbc.co.uk. This brand, the original of the species, has the best range, including Pains au Raisins (€2.96) ideal as a new year’s breakfast treat.

Score: 9

Aldi Greenvale puff pastry 375g 89c

Top 8 readymade pastries

Ready rolled, this well-priced pastry is made from flour, and instead of butter it has margarine. You can tell the difference, but it is still a useful product at this price. Use to make twists from strips cut and dipped in sesame seeds for bites with drinks.

Score: 6.75

Lidl Chef Select shortcrust 89c each

Top 8 readymade pastries

Ready rolled, this seems good value, with palm oil, as well as rapeseed and sunflower oils instead of tastier butter. The texture was not that of home made, a little fatty in the mouth and lacking flavour. Essential to bake before adding filling.

Score: 6

Tesco light puff pastry 375g 89c

Top 8 readymade pastries

Ready rolled, the difference between the light and regular pastry is 4.1 less fat and 0.5 less sugars, with 1% more protein. With good recipes on boxes, taste-wise, the difference between the two is negligible. Made in Germany.

Score: 7

Marks & Spencer 320g €2.90

Top 8 readymade pastries

Puff pastry from the Cook With range is ready rolled, like many in the range, and there are quite a few. Nice, light pastry is decently buttery and flaky and it browned well. Use to make tops for savoury pies. Wind around cone moulds for cream horns. Made in Britain.

Score: 8

Fria gluten-free puff pastry 500g €6.35

Top 8 readymade pastries

Two frozen blocks make it easy to use small portions. It is also lactose-free. Palm, rapeseed and coconut fats are blended with egg, water, modified corn and tapioca starches, along with a few thickeners, sugar beet fibre and psyllium husks. The result works well and, despite being a little fatty, is an acceptable product for coeliacs to enjoy for sweet and savoury treats. Made in Sweden,

Score: 7

Spring Home TYJ spring roll pastry 550g €2.50

Top 8 readymade pastries

Thirty sheets made in Singapore have traveled far. Flour, coconut oil, salt and water are the ingredients to make sheets which are easy to manage. Fill with cooked fine noodles, raw, thinly sliced vegetables, peanuts, ginger and garlic, brush with oil and cook in oven. Jamieoliver.com has details for a deep fried version.

Score: 7


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