An idiot’s guide to homemade shortcrust pastry

There are far too many people out there who sack off homemade pastry as a faff without reason. And bizarre rumours about people with the wrong types of hands for pastry making – what a load of twaddle!

I grew up making pastry with my mother and with her mother using this recipe, and its never failed me (although I’ve gone wrong taking food processor ‘shortcuts’ a number of times). I often worry that the skill of making your own shortcrust pastry will die out with our generation so am on a personal mission to spread the “no-really-pastry-is-easy” gospel.

When making shortcrust pastry the ingredients and proportions are very simple – half fat to flour. Remember this and you won’t go far wrong. I always halve the fat into lard and butter, but you can use all butter if you prefer. These ingredients should be enough to give you a pie base and a pie top – however you can make more or less depending on what you need.

Ingredients:

300g plain flour + extra for rolling
75g lard
75g salted butter
glass of water
1 egg

Method:

    1. Wash your hands – clean, dry hands are important so make sure you wash them throughout the process and always dry them properly.
    2. Measure out your flour and put in a large mixing bowl, cube your butter and lard and add these into the flour

    1. Very roughly start mix the butter and lard round the bowl with a knife – just so that the cubes are covered

  1. Now for the messy bit – the rubbing in. Scoop the flour and cubes of butter up in your fingertips, palms up and slowly rub your thumbs over the mixture, squashing the butter and lard into the flour.

 

Shortcrust Pastry – rubbing in the fat to the flour from BristolFoodie on Vimeo.

Shortcrust Pastry – rubbing in the fat to the flour from BristolFoodie on Vimeo.

Foodie Tip – keep your palms facing upwards at all times. Only your fingertips should get floury, your palms should stay clean. If you’re getting flour in the palms of your hands you are picking too much up.

    1. Repeat this over and over until your mixture resembles breadcrumbs and you’ve got rid of all of the lumps (it should take you about 10 minutes)

Foodie Tip – give the bowl a good shake every so often which will make the lumps rise to the top – this way you can spot them easily to rub them in to the rest of the mixture.

    1. Once all of the lumps are rubbed out, make a well in the centre and pour in a little bit of water – remember you can add more liquid but you cant take away so be frugal!

  1. Stir the mixture together with a knife until it all comes together. It should be soft to tough – not sticky. Add more water if its too crumbly, use your hands if you need too.
  2. Turn the mixture out on to a well floured surface. If the mixture is still sticky at this stage I would roll it around in the flour a bit to dry it out before rolling.

Foodie Tip – whenever rolling pastry, whatever you are making, try not to roll it too thin. Aim for roughly the thickness of a pound coin and you should be fine.

For a pie base and lid… (in my opinion, a pie should always have a bottom, otherwise its not a REAL pie)

      1. Cut the mixture into two parts, one piece about two thirds and the other about a third. Wrap the smaller of the two pieces in cling-film and put into the fridge.
      2. Roll the larger piece of pastry out on your work surface – keep the surface and your rolling pin well floured.
      3. Roll the pastry back on itself over a rolling pin to transfer to the pie dish (this avoids you handling it too much).

 

    1. Push your base into place gently but firmly then line with paper and baking beans and bake blind for 5-10 minutes until just starting to colour
    2. Remove the base from the oven, get rid of the beans and carefully trip around the edges so that they are nice and neat. Pour your filling into the pie at this point and leave to one side
    3. Roll out your pie lid (as you did with the base) and carefully place on top of the pie dish and filling.
    4. Gently push your thumb around the edge of the pie dish or use the side of your thumb and forefinger – this will give it a nice looking crust and also secure it.

  1. Finally – make three wide snips in the pie with kitchen scissors and wash over with a beaten egg – this will give it a good looking glaze when it comes out of the oven

For mini tartlets

    1. Make sure you grease your baking tray well to avoid the tarts sticking to the bottom (everybody hates a tart with a sticky bottom!)
    2. Roll out all of your mixture at once, no need to separate it. Again make sure you work surface and rolling pin are well floured.
    3. Start to cut your pastry bases out. Push firmly on the cutter, give it a little twist and then move on to the next one. Then tear the pastry away from the shapes.


    1. Gently place each tart base into the baking tray and push down with the side of your finger.

    1. Roll out the leftover pastry and repeat until you have enough pastry bases.
    2. Fill each tartlet with your desired filling – For a standard cake tray, a teaspoon is more than enough.
    3. If you want to do mini lids for your tartlets, then repeat the process again but choose a smaller pastry cutter for the lid. Place each one gently on top of the base and filling and remember to give each one a little snip before they go in to the oven.
    4. I like to give my tartlets funky shapes on top with the leftovers – stars / hearts – anything really so feel free to experiment.

  1. Lastly – wash over the tartlets with some watered down egg wash to give them that nice glaze.

 

 

 

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