It can be breakfast, lunch or dinner - any meal automatically becomes a hundred times more awesome when you add a pastry. Whether you’re a fan of buttery, crumbly puff or something more stodgy and savoury, pastry is one of the few food groups that has something for everyone.
Given how many of us spend calories snacking on croissants and eclairs, it’s easy to neglect everything else that pastry has to offer. Tempting though French classics may be, there’s a host equally delicious yet often neglected options available. From all over the world, here are eight incredibly tasty less well known pastries.
They might look like weird croissants, but Franzbrötchen have a whole lot more going on underneath the surface. Traditionally made with butter, cinnamon and a scattering of raisins, these breakfast treats are actually relatively uncommon beyond their native Hamburg.
Honey and nuts is going to be a winning formula with almost anything, so it’s little surprise that this Turkish classic is as beloved as it is. Thin flaky layers of filo are soaked in a sugary syrup before being glued together and scattered with green pistachios in what is the perfect post-dinner snack.
It’s not just sugar that can make pastry awesome. A Cornish tradition dating back hundreds of years, the pasty was originally created to help provide miners with a hearty, portable lunch. The result is one of Britain’s best loved recipes. Stuffed with steak, onions and potatoes, the pasty is as filling as it is utterly delicious.
These small Iranian, cookie-shaped sweets have a recipe and lineage that can be traced back centuries. Made with a mixture of dates, walnuts, cardamom and sesame, these fragrant and ornate parcels form a key part of local Kirmani dining culture and regularly feature in seasonal celebrations.
5. Pastel De Nata
As a rule, the egg custard tart regularly fails to get the recognition that it deserves. If any version of the classic pud is going to turn those fortunes around it is the Portuguese pastel de nata. Perfectly cooked custard is topped with a caramelised cinnamon and icing sugar crust, all encased in a blanket of flaky pastry in a perfect hand-held sweet snack.
If a profiterole decided to go to the gym and enter a bodybuilding contest, the result might look something like a religieuse. Made from two choux pastry buns sandwiched on top of each other and pumped full of creme patissiere, religieuse are so named because of their supposed resemblance to a nun in her habit.
7. Kue Klepon
Generally speaking, baking and humidity don’t tend to make good bedfellows. A delicious exception are Indonesia’s traditional rice-based treats, kue klepon. Made from rice flour, palm sugar and dessicated coconut, what really helps kue klepon to stand out is their lurid green colouring - which they get from a paste made from local plant leaves.
8. Gulab Jamun
Though doughnuts are undoubtedly awesome, they aren’t the only way to fry pastry. A great alternative are Indian gulab jamun. Balls of sticky sweet dough are fried in butter, before being drowned in syrup infused with cardamom, saffron and rose water. Intensely sweet but also subtle, this is one dessert worth adding to the bucket list.
Pastries come in many shapes and sizes. Walking into a strange bakery full of weird buns, cakes and sweets can be an intimidating experience. But, as we’ve just seen, just because something is odd doesn’t mean it can’t be delicious.