Make Perfect Pastry

26/09/2012 13:57

Shortcrust pastry is the most widely used type of pastry. It is perfect for sweet or savoury pies, tarts and quiches. Shortcrust pastry is always made with plain flour and the proportion of fats to the flour is always half fat to flour. The fat for preference should be a mixture of lard which makes the pasrty 'short' ( crumbly) and butter or margarine which gives it flavour and colour. You can make pastry by hand or in a food processor.

Makes about 12oz pastry

8oz/200g plain flour
2oz/50g lard
2oz/50g butter or margarine
1/2 tsp of salt
2 tbsp cold water

Sift the flour into a bowl and stir in the salt. Make sure the fats are at room temperature. Cut them into the bowl in small pieces, then rub the fat into the flour with your fingertips. As you do this, keep lifting your hands high above the bowl to aerate the flour. Continue until the fat and flour are combined and look like fine breadcrumbs. Now mix to a stiff dough with cold water, stir in with a round-bladed knife until the mixture begins to stick together. Then gather the dough together with your fingertips until you have a ball which leaves a clean bowl. Knead the dough very lightly on a lightly floured board until it is firm and smooth.


If you have a food processor you can quite easily make shortcrust using the same ingredients as above. Simply add the flour and salt into the processor. Add the butter and pulse in stages until the mixture starts to resemble breadcrumbs. Drizzle in the water starting with 1 tbsp, only using more if needed, continue to pulse until a ball forms. Place the pastry in a bag and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes before use.

Makes about 1lb of pastry- enough for two 7-inch flan rings

8oz plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
1oz caster sugar
5oz firm margerine
3 tsp water
1 egg yolk

Mix together the egg yolk, sugar and water. Place flour and salt in a bowl and rub in the margarine. Mix to a firm dough with egg mixture. Leave in a cool place for 15-20 minutes before using.

'Baking Blind' is the process used to pre-cook a pastry crust without the filling. You would usually do this where the proposed filling to the crust either - does not require cooking, does not require as much time to cook as the pastry, or if the filling is too liquid, this would make the crust too soggy if you were to attempt to cook the pastry with the filling inside it.

Simply line the pastry case with foil or greaseproof paper, and fill it with dried beans, peas or any dried pulses would do. The weight of them keeps the base of the pastry flat and strong during the cooking. Bake the case for about 10-15 minutes, then remove the paper or foil and bake until golden.

* There’s a saying 'cold hands make better pastry' and the reason for this is that if you handle the mixture too much whilst binding it together, the warmth from your fingers & hands will start to melt the butter or fat. This will make the pastry chewy & doughy when cooked rather than light & crumbly.
* Use scales - the ingredients must be exact to get the right consistency


*Always chill the pastry before rolling and using.

* Add as little liquid as you can - just enough to bring the dough together.  Too much and the pastry will be tough and hard to roll, too little and it will be crumbly and fall apart.

* Roll the pastry using short, even forward strokes. Never turn the pastry over, but for even rolling, give the pastry a quarter turn now and then -  turning the pastry not the rolling pin will stop it sticking to the surface. If it does begin to stick loosen it with a palette knife and lighlty flour the surface and rolling pin.

Now try your hand at making this delicious Apple Pie