Understanding Shortcrust Pastry
Making pastry is not difficult, but there are a couple of key things that you need to bear in mind.
1. Use a knife to start blending in the fat, and use your hands to ‘rub in’ only when the fat is too small for the knife. This stops your hands from warming up the butter too much.
2. For a beautiful short pastry, don’t rub in all the butter – leave some small lumps and bumps!
3. Don’t overmix the pastry when you have added the liquid, as this also can encourage gluten strands to form.
4. Keep the ingredients cold. Keep your hands cold. Keep your utensils cold, and work quickly so all of above don’t warm up.
5. Rest your pastry in the fridge. Once you have added your liquid and mixed it all together, wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge. This allows the gluten to relax.
6. Allow for shrinkage. It doesn’t matter how much you allow the gluten to relax, the pastry will still shrink back some. So allow for this when you are trimming your pastry to fill your dish!
Half fat to flour
The standard ratio for shortcrust pastry is half fat to flour. It makes life easy to remember that, and then just add however much water you need to make that firm dough!
If you make pastry regularly
The flour and shortening can be pre-rubbed in and left in your fridge for at least a month in a lidded container. Then just take out what you need, add your liquid and voila!
To stop your pastry from going soggy, it is best to blind bake your pastry. So before you fill your pastry, prick it with a fork and then chill in the fridge for 15 minutes. Line the top of the pastry with baking paper, and then fill with baking beans. You can easily use dried pasta if you don’t have baking beans. Bake at 180C for 10–12 minutes (8 minutes for individual). Then remove the beans and baking paper and bake for a further 10 mins (4 mins for individual)
This How To section allows you to understand the basics of chocolate, baking and using some of the basic ingredients leaving you feeling confident (and possibly a little more sexy!) in the kitchen.