In Europe, pastry could be savoury and also refers to treats that are made with dough, like croissants, donuts, brioche and danish.
In India, the word “pastry” is used to describe a slice of cake. It could be anything from a pineapple to a chocolate truffle pastry (or cake). However, in Europe, pastry could also be savoury and refers to treats that are made with dough, like croissants, donuts, brioche and danish.
It is believed that the ancient Romans, Greeks and Egyptians used a filo-type pastry (a mix of flour and oil) to make sweet treats stuffed with natural sweeteners like dates. Evidence of these sweet treats can be found on ancient tomb paintings and is also mentioned in certain writings.
Later, the Romans created a basic pastry dough meant to be used as a covering when cooking meats. The covering, made of flour, oil and water, was used as a protective layer to keep the meat moist and prevent it from burning. It was not considered fit for eating and was discarded. Fuller pastry recipes like puffs were discovered only in the late Medieval period.
Some unusual pastries from around the world are:
Bola de Berlim (Portugal)
Bola de Berlim are like Portuguese donuts. Sliced in half, they are filled with sweet custard. Fluffy on the outside and creamy on the inside, bola de berlim are also rolled in sugar. In Portugal, vendors sell them along beaches.
Ensaimada de Mallorca (Spain)
A spiral-shaped sweet pastry made with a dough that combines yeast, eggs and lard, Ensaimada de Mallorca have been made on the island of Mallorca since the 17th century and the recipe remains the same even today.
Bite-sized doughnut balls made with leftover doughnut dough, timbits are available in a multitude of flavours. They are sold at chains like Tim Hortons and Dunkin' Donuts in the US. They are called doughnut holes in Quebec.
A staple Peruvian street food, picarones are deep-fried and also referred to as ‘Peruvian doughnuts’. The dough is shaped into a ring and fried in hot oil, and the resulting pastry is drizzled with a sweet cane syrup.
Often used as centrepieces on the dinner table, croquembouche are essentially choux buns or profiteroles filled with custard cream. Their name is derived from the expression ‘croque-en-bouche’, which means ‘crunch in the mouth’.