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How To Make 'British' Pastry For Meat Pies and Easy Tart Recipes.
Classic Shortcrust or British Pastry Is So Versatile.....
Classic short crust or British pastry is very versatile, cheap and easy to make, it can be used for both savoury pies and sweet tarts. For example, all you need to do to alternate between savoury and sweet is change the amount and type of fat used within the basic recipe. You use more lard if you want a beautiful crumbly and flaky textured short crust pastry for meat pies or when you are looking to add exceptional flavour to easy tart recipes you simply use more butter as your fat source.
You can even fine tune the final look and taste of your case according to your own personal preference. You do this by adding eggs, milk or sugar (brown, caster or icing sugar can be used) to the basic mixture. The addition of these extra ingredients will guarantee a browner crust, sweeter flavour or finer grain so that your pastry develops that ‘light as air’ consistency combined with a melt-in-the-mouth flavour. Truly a delicious combination for any pie or tart!
British pastry is also very practical in that you can make large quantities well ahead of the time you intend to use it without any detriment to flavour or results. It can be kept, wrapped in cling film or grease proof paper in the fridge for up to 3 days before using or better still you can make and then freeze dough batches for future use.
Home Baking: It's Worth The Effort. (This Tart Was Delicious!)
Basic British Pastry For Meat Pies
- 8oz (225g) soft wheat flour
- 1tsp of salt
- 2oz (50g) of cold unsalted English butter, cut into small pieces
- 2oz (50g) of cold lard, cut into small pieces
- 3-4 tbsp chilled water.
As stated above the amount and type of fat is interchangeable depending on intended use and personal preference. The only rule is that the proportion of lard and butter to flour should be exactly half, so if you use 4oz of flour add only 2oz of fat which can be made up of either lard, butter or both.
For the chilled water you will need to use roughly 1-1½tsp per 1oz of flour.
Basic British Pastry For Easy Tart Recipes
- 8oz (225g) soft wheat flour
- 1tsp of salt
- 4oz (50g) of cold unsalted English butter, cut into small pieces
- 3-4 tbsp chilled water or cold milk
- 2tsp of brown, caster or icing sugar
- 1 x egg yolk (optional)
- Zest of a lemon (optional)
Now use the easy to follow baking method and step by step pictures below to pull it all together......
Method for Both The Above Recipes
1. Place the flour and salt, sugar and grated lemon zest if using, into a chilled bowl.
2. Add the diced butter and rub the ingredients together. Do this by lifting and crumbling the mixture about 8ins above the bowl using only your fingertips until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
(This handling technique helps to aerate the mixture and keep it cool at the same time).
3. Make a well in the centre of your mixture and add the water or milk and the egg yolk if you are using one. Use a round bladed knife to bring the whole mixture together so that it forms larger lumps.
(If the mixture does not naturally form bigger crumbs you may need to add more water or milk, but only add a teaspoon at a time, do not overdo it as your mixture can easily spoil.....you have been warned!)
4. Now using your hands press the crumbly mixture together and gather it into dough, so that you can form a ball.
5. Knead lightly for a few seconds, but do not over handle the pastry.
6. ‘Rest’ the dough for 30 minutes in a refrigerator, wrapped in cling film.
7. Roll out on a lightly floured work surface (marble or Formica are best as they are cooler than plastic or wooden boards) and use as required.
Step By Step: How To Make The Dough
Want Faster Results? Watch Expert Chef Gordon Ramsay do It The Quick Way With a Food Processor....
Useful Tips For Making Perfect British Pastry
Mixing and Handling
The real secret to making a good dough is keeping your ingredients and utensils as cool as possible throughout the preparation process. This means mixing the ingredients quickly and handling the pastry only when absolutely necessary.
‘Rest’ Your Dough
Once you have made your dough it is a good idea to ‘rest’ it by chilling it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes prior to use. The ‘rest’ period relaxes the dough so that it doesn’t become too elastic (gluten is a by-product of mixing together flour and water, great for bread making but not for pastry!) thus making it difficult to roll out, more inclined to shrink when cooking and even tough in texture when cooked through.
Make life easier for yourself by using flan or pie dishes that have removable bottoms, so that you can roll out your dough directly over the bottom of the removable flan dish. You will find that this makes judging the size of the case in relation to the baking tin much easier, it also cuts down the risk of it breaking when transferring from the rolling out board to your baking tin or you accidentally putting your finger through the rolled out dough whilst inserting into the ‘nooks and crannies’ of the baking tin.
Step By Step: How To Rolling Out Without Tearing
I personally always thought this was an unnecessary and time consuming step when I first started making pastry, but I have come to the conclusion that if you want exceptional crust results then you really do need to follow this extra procedure.
Blind baking ensures that your crust is cooked through and helps to maintain its light crispiness, which is especially needed when using a liquid filling inside your pie or tart. It does require a bit more effort on your part, but trust me, the results are well worth it and speak for themselves, so make the time to include it into your baking routine.
How To Blind Bake
Once you have rolled out the dough and lined your dish, you gently prick the bottom of the flan or pie dish with a fork, this enables any trapped air to escape. You then line your case with baking parchment and weigh it down by adding some ceramic baking beans, before baking your case ‘blind’ in the oven at 200°C or 400°F, Gas mark 6 for 8 minutes. Then take it out of the oven, remove the beans and baking parchment and then remove the unwanted edges with a sharp knife to give a nice clean edge to your pie crust. Use milk or beaten egg yolk to glaze the pastry and return to the oven for about 5 minutes further cooking. Once completed, you can remove from the oven, add the filling of your choice and return to the oven for completion of the cooking of your pie or tart recipe that you are currently following.