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Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Defining Pastries in an Easy Way

I have recently discovered that not a lot of  people understand what pastries actually are; people just use it as a general term for any baked goods. Well, here at Amari Quickbreads Bakery, we love sharing our knowledge as much as we can to help all of you home-bakers out there, or for all those interested in all things baking ^_^. Here's a very quick and easy definition of pastries.

What are pastries?

-Pastry is a name given to various kinds of baked products made from ingredients such as wheat flour, sugar, milk, butter, shortening, baking powder and/or eggs.

- Pastry may also refer to dough from which such baked products are made. Pastry dough is rolled out thinly and used as a base for baked products.

- Pastry is differentiated from bread by having a higher fat content, which contributes to the flaky or crumbly texture they are known for. A good pastry is light, airy and fluffy; but firm enough to support the weight of filling.

- Pastries are often difficult to make and require skill and dedication. Pastry chefs use a combination of culinary skill and creativity in baking, decorating and flavoring with ingredients. Presentation is also an important part of pastry and dessert preparation. This work requires a lot of time, focus and is often physically demanding. It requires attention to detail as well.

Pastry chefs are meticulous
Main types of pastries
-There are five main types of pastries:

1.) Short Crust Pastry

- Short crust is the simplest and most common pastry. It is made with flour, fat, salt and water. It is used mainly in tarts. It is also the pastry most used in making a quiche. (A quiche is a savory, open-faced pastry crust dish with a filling of cheese, meat and veggies.)

- The process of making a short crust includes mixing of the fat and flour, adding water and rolling out the paste. Fat is mixed with flour first by mixing with fingers or a pastry blender, which inhibits gluten formation and results in a soft, tender pastry.
Examples of short crust pastry dough are; Fruit tarts and pies.
Fruit Tart
Dutch Apple Pie
2.) Flaky Pastry

-It is a simple unleavened pastry that expands when cooked due to the number of layers.
- The process of making flaky pastry includes mixing large lumps of shortening into the dough, then the dough is then rolled and folded. It results into a crisp, buttery, flaky pastry. It usually has a "puff" that is obtained by beginning the baking process with a high temperature and lowering the temperature to finish.
Examples of flaky pastry dough are; Turnovers and Sausage Rolls

Cherry Turnover

3.) Puff Pastry

- Puff pastry has many layers that cause it to expand or "puff" when baked. These pastries are made using flour, butter, salt and water. Pastry rises up due to the combination and reaction of the four ingredients and also from the air that gets between the layers.
- Puff pastries come out of the oven light, flaky and tender.
Examples of puff pastry dough are; meat pies and strudel.
Meat pie

German Strudel

4.) Choux Pastry

- Very light pastry that's often filled with cream. The pastry is filled with various flavors of cream and often topped with chocolate. A good example of choux pastry are eclairs.
Eclairs ^_^

- This pastry contains only butter, water, flour and eggs. For a raising agent it employs a high moisture content to create steam during baking to puff the pastry. Choux pastry is usually baked but for recipes like Beignets, it is fried (for all you Kenyans, you might recognize our version as 'Mandazi' ^_^).

- Choux pastry can also be filled with ingredients such as cheese, tuna or chicken to be used as an appetizer. This pastry is used to make profiteroles or cream puffs.
Profiteroles also known us Cream puffs

5.) Phyllo (Filo) Pastry

- This pastries are usually paper-thin and greatly stretched. They involve several stretched out layers and are wrapped around a filling and brushed with butter.
- Phyllo pastry is made with flour, water and a small amount of oil or white vinegar; some recipes call for egg yellow though. These pastries are very delicate and can break easily. This unleavened pastry dough is mainly used for making pastries in middle Eastern cuisine. A lot of Greek cuisine recipes use the pastry dough with various fillings such as; cheese, chicken, vegetables, meat, nuts and syrup, potatoes, etc.

Phyllo pastry

My personal favorites are eclairs, so yummy ^_^!
Wherever you go, enjoy pastries to the utmost, they are works of art!

Do you have any personal favorite pastries that you like? Which ones?

Monday, 26 March 2012

20 Baking Terminologies explained

We love sharing recipes with you so you can enjoy baking at home as much as we do ^_^. We've decided to define some baking terminologies that may be used and not well understood by some. Hope this helps you and makes baking recipes much more easier and baking fun like it should be.


Incorporation of air and/or gas in bakery products by mixing, beating or whisking. Gas is introduced by baking powder or yeast.

2.) Batch
One mixing of bread, cakes or frosting. This can yield multiple quantities e.g. 1 batch of 100 breads, 1 batch of 5 cakes or a batch of 2000 gms of Buttercream frosting

3.) Batter
A soft completed cake or quick bread mixture.

4.) Beat
The mechanical aeration of fat, sugar, eggs and other materials. This can be done using a spatula, whisk or mixer.

5.) Body
Firmness and response of the crumb or dough to pressure.

6.) Egg Wash
Eggs beaten and brushed on bakery products before baking.

7.) Coat
 To cover a cake with icing, cream, glaze or egg wash.

8.) Consistency
The "feel" of dough or batter.

9.) Crumb
All the bread loaf or cake except the crust. The 'inside' of the cake or bread.

10.) Crust
That part of the outside of the bread or cake that is dehydrated and caramelized during baking. It's usually the outer brown part. 

11.) Curdle
A mixture (cake batter or other), which has separated and has lost its smooth consistency.
A raw completed yeast or pastry mixture.13.) Dust
To sprinkle flour e.g. on the table-top to prevent dough from sticking or on a greased pan to avoid cake sticking. This can also apply to icing sugar/confectioner's sugar on a cake.

14.) Essences
Aromatic food compounds used for flavoring confectionery(cakes, breads or icings) e.g. Vanilla essence, Strawberry essence, etc.
15.) Glaze
- to egg wash before baking.
- to brush with highly boiled fruit puree.
- to wash with sugar solution after baking e.g. lemon drizzle glaze.

16.) Gluten
Insoluble wheat protein found in foods processed from wheat and related grain species, including barley and rye. It gives elasticity to dough, helping it keep its shape and giving the final product a chewy texture.

17.) Icing/Frosting
The coating and decoration of a cake with prepared butter cream icing or frosting.
Frosting/Icing a cake
 The decoration on the edge of a short bread, pastry etc.

19.) Snow
Well-beaten egg whites.
snowy beaten egg whites

20.) Yield
The calculated units from the total baked weight of a particular formula.

Want to attend baking classes, click here for details on our practical classes. Contact us on no. 0701796688

Have you read any terminologies in baking recipes that have stumped you? Let us know we will see if we can help ^_^

Saturday, 17 March 2012

We are officially open!

Hi to everyone, I am so proud to announce that our bakery is officially open! Thanks for everyone who has supported and encouraged me while I was in the process of starting this venture and I hope you all continue supporting me. We will work very hard to serve all my Nairobi customers and I will keep everyone updated on any specials! Stay with us and we will grow together, thank you very much ^_^!!

Monday, 5 March 2012

10 Benefits of our three favorite fruits-Bananas, Oranges and Lemons!

Ripe bananas

This wonderfully sweet and delicious fruit is our main inspiration in our banana bread and brown banana bread.  We've discovered that this sweet fruit has many benefits when you eat it, here are a few:

1.) Improve your mood

- Tryptophan acids are present in bananas and these help in reducing depression and help improve your mood.
- Studies also show that bananas are also helpful in reducing stress levels.

2.) Regulate the Bowel System

- If you're suffering from constipation, a banana a day will definitely help. Bananas are rich in fibre.

3.) Reduce risk of heart disease and blood pressure

- Bananas are rich in potassium, which is vital for muscle contraction and proper function of the heart and nervous system.
A happy healthy heart is important!

- We each require just 4gms of Potassium per day. You get it by eating one banana a day. Try our banana bread which has two bananas in each medium loaf ^_^!

4.)Reduce itching of mosquito bites

 - Instead of using creams to reduce itching and swelling from mosquito bites,use banana peels.
- Rub the itchy and swelling area with the inside of a banana peel and see how soon you will get relief.


This tangy and colorful fruits inspired our orange bread. Oranges also have great benefits such as:

5.) Help lower blood pressure and cholesterol

- Oranges have been discovered to have 170 phytonutrients and over 60 so called citrus flavonoids. These agents have been linked to effectively lower blood pressure and cholesterol as well as being an excellent anti-inflammatory.

6.) Good for digestive breakdown

- Oranges are also helpful if you're constipated. The dietary fibre in oranges helps in loosening your bowel system.
- It is recommended to take in 25-35gms of fibre daily. Eating the flesh or rind of an orange is good for your diet as it contains 3.1gms of fibre. Our orange bread contains orange rind of two oranges in our medium loaf, how healthy! ^_^

7.) Beauty Benefits

- Oranges can be helpful in other ways other than ingesting them. You can use them at home in other ways such as:
 * Orange peels can kindle your fire.
 * Orange peels are useful as exfoliating face scrubs.
 * Rubbing fresh orange peel can also repel mosquitoes.


This citrus and refreshing fruit inspired our very delicious lemon bread. Here are their benefits:

8.) Powerful anti-bacterial

- Lemon juice has been proven through experiments that the bacteria of malaria, cholera and typhoid have been destroyed in lemon juice.

9.) Body Cleanser

-  Cleanse your body with lemon juice mixed with cold water and honey taken on an empty stomach early in the morning. Warm water may be used occasionally to get relief of constipation as well.

10.) Fights Fatigue

- Adding lemon juice to ordinary drinking water will quench thirst more effectively. Experienced travelers declare that when they do so, lemons act as an anti-septic and prevents illness due to allergy to different water supplies.
- Long distance travelers and hikers use lemons when fatigue sets in, they suck on lemon juice by piercing the top of the fruit with a straw. It gives them a quick acting medicine and a lovely refreshment.
- Lemon oil is also able to stimulate brain activity, you can drink a glass of lemon water every few hours to stay alert and refreshed.

However you consume your fruits; whether it's plain, in a smoothie or in a quick bread , enjoy them and eat them in plenty, they're healthy for you ^_^. What kind of fruits do you like and how do you eat them?