Prep 15min (+20-30min chilling time)Makes: Enough for a 23cm/9in round tart case
A really good, well-made, homemade pastry is always the secret to a fabulous pie or tart and shortcrust pastry, when you have a good recipe, is one of the simplest and quickest pastries to make. Here I have given lots of making ahead and freezing tips as well as some great variations to use in a selection of both sweet and savoury tarts and pies.
Ingredients225g (1½ cups/8oz) plain flour
Good pinch salt
150g (5¼oz) chilled unsalted butter, diced
3-3½ tablespoons (60-70ml/2½fl oz) iced water
- Combine the flour and salt in a large, wide mixing bowl. Add the chilled butter. With your palms facing upwards, use your fingertips to rub in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs with some larger pieces of butter still visible.
- Sprinkle 3 tablespoons (60ml/2fl oz) of the iced water over the flour and butter mixture. Use a butter or round-ended knife in a cutting motion to mix, turning the bowl frequently, until evenly combined and the mixture starts holding together. Press a little of the mixture between your fingers – if it holds together easily, there is no need to add more water; if it doesn’t add the remaining 1⁄2 tablespoon (10ml/⅓fl oz), a teaspoon at a time, combining with the knife until it reaches the right consistency. The pastry should be soft but not sticky.
- Bring the pastry together with your hands in the bowl or turn out onto a cool bench top and then bring together. Lightly knead the pastry with your fingertips for about 5-10 seconds or until it comes together but isn’t completely smooth. Shape the pastry into a disc about 2cm/¾in thick, wrap well in plastic wrap, baking paper or beeswax wrap and place in the fridge for 20-30 minutes to rest. Use as directed.
This pastry is also enough for a 24cm/9½in square tart case; ten 6cm/2¼in or eight 8cm/3¼in) individual round tart cases; a 12cmx34.5cm/4¾inx13½in) rectangular tart case; or 24 tartlet cases (1 Tbsp/20ml/¾fl oz capacity)
Making AheadKeeping in the fridge
Shape uncooked pastry into a disc. Wrap well in plastic wrap and keep in the fridge for up to 3 days. Stand at room temperature for about 1 hour (depending on the temperature in your kitchen) until softened slightly and pliable enough to roll easily.
Freezing uncooked pastry
Shape uncooked pastry into a disc. Wrap well in plastic wrap, then seal in a freezer bag or airtight container and freeze for up to 6 months. Transfer to the fridge to thaw completely (this will take about 1 day). Stand at room temperature for about 1 hour (depending on the weather) until softened slightly and pliable enough to roll easily.
Freezing uncooked pastry case/s
Place the pastry case, still in the tin or dish, in the freezer until frozen. Once frozen, leave the pastry in the tin or dish or remove and seal in freezer bag or an airtight container. Freeze for up to 6 months. Bake in the tin or dish directly from the freezer or transfer to the fridge to thaw completely in the tin or dish (this will take about 1 day) and then bake as directed.
- Rich Shortcrust Pastry: Increase the butter to 170g (6oz). Replace the water with 1 lightly whisked egg yolk.
- Parmesan Shortcrust Pastry: Combine 40g (½ cup/1½oz) finely grated parmesan to the flour and butter mixture just before adding the water.
- Mustard Shortcrust Pastry: Add 1½ teaspoons dry mustard powder to the flour and salt before rubbing in the butter.
- Sweet Shortcrust Pastry: Stir 2 tablespoons sifted icing sugar or caster sugar to the flour and butter mixture just before adding the water.
- Chocolate Shortcrust Pastry: Reduce the flour to 200g (1⅓cups/7oz). Sift the flour with 2 tablespoons cocoa powder and 2 tablespoons icing sugar and the salt before rubbing in the butter.
- Sweet Orange & Vanilla Shortcrust Pastry: Reduce the flour to 200g (1⅓cups/7oz). Add 2 tablespoons almond meal, 2 tablespoons caster or icing sugar and 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest to the flour and salt before rubbing in the butter. Add 1 teaspoon natural vanilla essence or extract with the water.
Photography by Alan Benson.