Chinese Flaky Skin (中式酥皮)
Another name for the Chinese Flaky Skin is thousand layers skin. The Chinese has an interesting way of calliông their pastries, one describes the mouthfeel: flaky skin (酥皮), and another is how it looks like 千层皮 or thousand layer skin. To me, it is a cross between the western short crust and puff/flaky pastry. In fact, it encompasses a short crust used to separate between layers of filo-like pastry.
Chinese pastries can broadly be classified into two categories: Huaiyang 淮阳式（淮阳酥皮）and Cantonese 广式（广式酥皮). The Huaiyang style has generally three ways of presentation while the Cantonese style has two.
I started doing these pastries when I was about 18 years old, while learning how to make moon cakes. That was after I have learned the western puff pastry and croissants. I found this method of creating layers much easier to handle and faster. In addition, various combinations of fats, salt and flour can change the pastry dramatically.
No matter which you decide to start with, Chinese pastries has two layers to be dealt with. The pastry layer is called the 油皮 (oily skin)， while the cookie layer is called the 油酥 (oily flake). The cookie layer is short while the pastry is like a filo pastry.
|Fat||Flour||Water||Oil Dough : Water Dough Ratio|
|HuaiYang淮阳酥皮||Oil Dough||1||2 (cake)||0||2 : 3|
|Water Dough||1||2.5 (plain)||1|
|Cantonese广式酥皮||Oil Dough||10||7 (cake)||0||1:1|
|Water Dough||1||5 (plain)||4|
There are many ways to present the Chinese Crispy pastries. Combining these two pastries with a plethora of fillings, literally thousands of desserts and dishes have been created by the Asians. Here are just some examples and really, the sky is the limit.
|Hidden Layers （暗酥）||Baked||More bite|
|Spiral Layers (圓酥)||Fried or Baked without egg wash||Flakier and lighter|
|Parallel Layers (直酥)||Fried or Baked without egg wash||Same as spiral|
|Pastry as a wrap||Baked with egg wash||Light and luxurious|
|Pastry as lining||Baked without egg wash, reverse oil and water dough||Melt in the mouth/’shorter’ dough|
- Depending on the size, bake at 180-240°C for 9-15 minutes, the smaller your cakes, the higher the temperature and the shorter it bakes.
- Fried at medium heat till golden brown.