It is just about baking season and I thought I would take the opportunity to explain the differences between puff, shortcrust, and filo doughs.
Puff pastry is best for pastries, sausage rolls, and sweet or savory pies. It is usually made with canola or a vegetable oil.
Butter Puff Pastry
Butter puff pastry is made with butter instead of the vegetable oil and has no sugar. Whether you use normal puff pastry or butter puff pastry is entirely a matter of personal preference.
Sweet Puff Pastry
Sweet puff pastry is made using sugar. It is used in sweet recipes that require a flaky, buttery pastry such as a sweet pie.
Shortcrust pastry has a slightly biscuity, crumbly texture that doesn’t easily soak up fluids and is perfect for quiches, tarts, and other savories with wet fillings or those not served immediately. It is surprisingly sturdy when removed from its tin.
Although it is typically used for savory fillings, plain shortcrust can be a good flavor balance to very sweet fillings as well.
Pate sablee is a sweetened shortcrust pastry, but is more like a biscuit dough because the butter and sugar are beaten together before the flour and liquid are added. The word sablee means sandy or grainy and at times ground almonds are added to it to add even more texture.
Filo is wafer thin, crunchy, and brown when cooked. Filo is used when a light, crunchy pastry is required, like for a spinach pie or baklava.