How to Make Shortcrust Pastry Easily
Shortcrust pastry is versatile, easy to make and one of the most popular pastries in recipes. It can be used make both savoury pies, such as chicken and mushroom and sweet tarts and pastries such as jam or custard.
Recipes will usually ask for a set quantity of pastry, such as 5 ounces or 400 grams. The amount listed is usually dependent on the size or number of pies required. If based on the recipe you are working from you need to make more or less than listed, use the following guide and you should be able to make the correct amount of pastry.
This recipe makes 8 ounces of short crust pastry (approximately 1/2 pound), using 8 ounces of flour (1 cup). The fat content used to construct the pastry must be half the amount of flour used. This therefore in this recipe is 4 ounces total. It is best to use a mixture of fat, so half lard and half butter/margarine, in this recipe, 2 ounces of each.
If the recipe you were following asked for 400g of shortcrust pastry, that would mean using 400g of flour and 200g of fat. This would be 100g of lard and 100g of butter.
If a sweet pastry is required, for example a sweet tart, then caster sugar can be added in addition to the flour. The amount is usually one eighth (1/8) of the total flour, so in this recipe that is 1 ounce (1/8 cup).
- 8 Ounces (1 cup) Plain Flour
- 2 Ounces (1/2 stick) Lard
- 2 Ounces (1/2 stick) Butter, Or Margarine
- 1 Pinch Salt, Omit if making sweet pastry
- 2 Tablespoons Cold Tap Water
- 1 Ounce Caster Sugar, If making a sweet pastry
- 1 beaten egg, for an egg wash if required
Tips for success!
Below are a few tips to follow to ensure that the recipe works well and ensures stress free pastry making
1. Weigh out all ingredients before you start. Have them all in separate containers in arms reach
2. The water used must be cold tap water and not too warm, the coolness of the water helps bind the pastry together quicker
3. When rolling out, ensure the surface you use is well floured, your rolling pin must be well floured too. Don't be afraid to add more if the pastry starts to stick at any time
4. Mix your dry ingredients together before rubbing in the fat. The fat must be cold and diced before use to make sure the pastry comes together well
5. You can use an electric mixer to make the pastry, however this runs a risk of overworking the pastry so care should be taken if using a mixer. Mixing should be stopped as soon as the ingredients have combined and the pastry is starting to form
- Cut all the fat into cubes, best done straight from the fridge. Leave this to warm slightly before using in the main recipe. Sift the flour into a bowl and add the salt. If making the sweet pastry then it is best to add the caster sugar at this point too.
- The fat needs to be added to the dry ingredients, this is best done using your fingertips. Rub the butter and lard into the mixture. All the fat can be added in one go or a bit at the time. It is dependent on your hand and bowl size
- Once the mixture resembles course breadcrumbs, the the cold water needs to be added. The best way to do this, put the cold water in a cup, add using a dessert spoon a small amount at a time. Use a regular cutlery knife to cut through the mixture every time you add water. Eventually the mixture will start to bind together.
- Once the mixture has bound together, work slightly in the bowl until all combined and the sides of the bowl are clean. Be careful not to overwork the pastry as this can make the pastry tough when cooked
- Once combined and worked, wrap in shrink wrap and place in the fridge for a minimum of 30 minutes. If you are freezing the pastry then freeze at this stage. Make sure the pastry is fully defrosted before use.
- When chilled, roll out on a floured surface to recipe instructions or for desired purpose. TIP: If sticking bits of pastry together it is best to use an egg wash to bind them. It would be prudent to egg wash any large amount pastry exposed when baking
Make your own pastry Yes or No?
How often would you make your own pastry or would you buy
Hope that you have enjoyed making this pastry. It can be adjusted to suit your requirements. Cocoa powder (in the above around 1 tablespoon) can be added with the flour to make chocolate pastry perhaps for a chocolate tart for example.
If adding any additional flavourings, you need to think about when to add these. If they a dry, such as dried herbs, these can be mixed with the flour beforehand. If you have wet flavourings, such as colourings, these can be added either at the fat stage or the water stage dependent on how wet they are. If using something like crushed garlic this can be added with the butter. If your flavor is very watery add as you would the water until all your additional ingredient is added then top up with water until pastry is combined.