How to Make Shortcrust Pastry: Step-by-Step with Pictures and a Video
Shortcrust pastry can be used for pies (both sweet and savory), flans, quiches and all kinds of tarts and tartlets.
Basic shortcrust pastry consists of flour and fat - half as much fat as flour - bound together with water.
The fat can be butter, margarine (block, not soft), lard or white vegetable fat. Butter and margarine give the best flavor, but lard and white vegetable fat make 'shorter' pastry -- pastry with a more crumbly, melting texture. To combine the advantages of both, use equal quantities of either butter or margarine and lard. The fat should be at room temperature.
All-purpose or plain flour is the best type for shortcrust pastry. Self-rising flour can be used but tends to make the pastry over-crumbly. If you would prefer to use wholemeal flour, it is better mixed with an equal quantity of self-rising flour.
Shortcrust pastry can be varied. To make sweet shortcrust for sweet flans and tarts to be served cold, add 1 heaped tablespoon of caster sugar to the basic mixture and use cold milk instead of water. A rich, sweet shortcrust is made with eggs, sugar and extra butter. To make cheese shortcrust, add a pinch of cayenne pepper and up to 4 ounces (125 g) of grated, strongly flavored hard cheese, such as Cheddar. Use butter or margarine only and a mixture of water and lightly beaten egg instead of water on its own.
Uncooked shortcrust pastry will keep for 3 days in the refrigerator when wrapped in plastic food wrap. It can be kept frozen for 3 months.
Quantities of shortcrust pastry needed for recipes are usually indicated by the amount of flour used - '4 ounces (125 g) shortcrust pastry', for example, means pastry made with 4 ounces or 125 g of flour. The weight of the made pastry is roughly the weight of the flour and fat combined: 6 ounces (185 g) of ready-made shortcrust, for example, has been made with only 4 ounces (125 g) of flour.
Preparation time: 20 minutes plus resting time.
Makes: Enough to line a 9 inch (23 cm) flan ring or cover a 4 cup pie dish.
You will need
- 2 cups all-purpose (plain) flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 ounces (60 g) butter
- 2 ounces (60 g) lard
- 2-3 tablespoons cold water
How to make shortcrust pastry in a food processor
Process flour, salt, butter, lard and 2 tablespoons cold water in a food processor for 12-18 seconds, or until the mixture just begins to form a ball. (If unsure whether ready, press dough against side of bowl with fingers - if it holds in a mass, it's ready.) Turn out on a lightly floured surface and knead 2-3 times only. Divide pastry into portions (if specified in recipe) and pat into the shape that will eventually be required (for example, square, round, rectangular). Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.
How to make shortcrust pastry by hand
Step 1 - Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl.
Step 2 - With a round-bladed knife, cut the butter and lard together on a plate. Add the butter and lard mixture in pieces to the flour in the bowl, distributing the pieces evenly over the flour.
Step 3 - Rub the fat into the flour with the tips of your fingers, lifting the mixture up and letting it fall back into the bowl to keep it cool and aerated. Continue until all the fat has been rubbed in and the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
Step 4 - Sprinkle the water, a little at a time, evenly over the mixture. Stir the water into the mixture with the round-bladed knife, gradually binding the dough together. Add just enough water to produce a soft but not sticky dough which comes away cleanly from the sides of the mixing bowl.
Step 5 - Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Knead it gently 1-2 times, but no more, to remove any cracks. Cover the ball of dough with the upturned bowl and leave to rest for 20-30 minutes.
Step 6 - Roll the dough out on a floured surface. Roll the dough away from you with short, quick strokes. A heavy 'steamroller' action will roll out the air and make the dough heavy, so keep movements light. Turn the pastry on the surface to keep it even and prevent sticking, but never turn it over.
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