Shortcrust pastry

We use this shortcrust pastry for most of our sweet and savoury pies and tarts as it is produces a beautifully crisp shell.  While we are learning to make pastry we will use the food processor, then later we will make pastry by hand, which produces a much superior result. The most important thing to remember when making pastry is to handle it is little as possible, this will prevent the development of gluten and ensure your pastry is crisp and flaky.

Difficulty:  Easy

Serves:  Makes enough to line a 22 cm, 24 cm or 26 cm flan tin

Recipe source: Food processor method adapted from Stephanie Alexander’s Kitchen Garden Cooking with kids, and the Hand-mixing method adapted from Paul Allam and David McGuinness’s Bourke Street Bakery.

Equipment

  • metric measuring spoons and cups
  • bowls, small, medium
  • scales
  • chopping board and non-slip matt
  • butter knife
  • food processor, optional
  • plastic wrap
Ingredients

  • 240 g plain flour
  • 180 g cold butter
  • ¼ cup cold water
What to doFood-processor method

  • Place the small bowl on the scales and weigh the flour and tip it into the bowl of the food processor.
  • Set out the chopping board and knife.  Chop the butter into small pieces and weigh the butter then add to the bowl of the food processor.
  • Using the pulse action, briefly combine the butter and flour until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs.  With the motor running, add the cold water.  Stop the machine as soon as the mixture starts to come together.
  • Lightly flour your workbench.  Tip out the dough and knead it briefly and flatten into a disc.  Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 20 minutes.

Hand-mixing method

  • Place the medium bowl on the scales and weigh the flour.
  • Set out the chopping board and knife.  Chop the butter into small pieces and weigh the butter then add to the medium bowl.
  • Using the tips of your fingertips rub the butter into the flour.  Continue to do this until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs.
  • Tip the mixture onto your workbench and sprinkle the water over the top. Using the palm of your hand smear the mixture away from you.  Gather the mixture together again and repeat the smearing another couple of times.  You should be able to see streaks of butter marbled through the pastry – this will give a slightly flaky texture to the pastry.
  • Gather the dough together and flatten into a disc.  Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 20 minutes.
Interesting techniques used in this recipe:

  • Rubbing butter into flour to look like breadcrumbs
    • Smearing dough to mix in water
    • Chilling dough to relax it after being mixed
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