Although I have the utmost respect for my fellow food bloggers, I’ve found that an awful lot of people shirk their pastry making duties. The excuse is invariable – making shortcrust pastry is difficult. Well, quite frankly, it isn’t – there are lots of rules, but if they are followed one’s pastry should be perfect every time. The other thing which makes my mind boggle is the inclusion of eggs or sugar in shortcrust pastry. A good shortcrust should contain nothing but plain flour, butter, water and a pinch of salt, whether intended for a savoury or sweet filling. Happily, such a recipe is also exceedingly frugal, as you shall soon see!
As mentioned in another post, Delia is my baking Goddess and her top tips for making shortcrust pastry are thus:
• The quantity of butter in the pastry should be no more than half of the amount of flour. It should also be at room temperature when used.
• The butter should spend as little time in one’s bare hand as possible. If the butter beings to melt it becomes oily and lowers the quality of the pastry. As such, one should cut the butter and flour together with a knife, before bringing it together with the hands as quickly as possible.
• The water used in making shortcrust pastry should be as cold as possible. The quantity of water used will be different in every case, but Delia recommends starting with 1 tbsp and going from there. The consistency wants to be soft and malleable. Again, bring the dough together with a knife and only finish with hands.
• Due to the gluten content of flour based dough, the raw pastry must be rested before use. Rest it in the fridge for 30 minutes and bring it back to room temperature before use.
• Treat the dough delicately when rolling, if you bash it about it might tear, the same goes for moulding it into the case. To get the dough to match the shape of the case press it into position using a small ball of dough in your fingers – this approach will avoid tearing. Remember, shrinking will occur so make sure the pastry rises slightly above the casing. This is something I didn’t do quite so well.
• Prick the base of the pastry before blind baking, ensure baking beans are used to avoid any unwanted bubbling. This should take no longer than 12 minutes at 190C. Remove the beans and greaseproof paper before returning to oven to allow the pastry to turn golden brown – this should take between 3 and 5 minutes. This is vital, otherwise your tart shall end up with a soggy bottom. No one likes a soggy-bottomed tart.
Basic Shortcrust Pastry Recipe:
Makes plenty for a 9-10 inch flan tin
• 150g plain flour
• 75g butter
• A pinch of salt
• A dash of water
Cost: Pretty much negligible, the amount the above recipe makes would cost around 30p to make. How delectable!