Shortcrust Pastry for Dummies

Submitted by Sugababy

For years I've been feared of baking due to the many rules in temperatures, measurements, etc. I used to buy ready rolled-out shortcrust pastry to make pies but the taste is just not very organic. After reading and understanding a little more about baking, I decided to try making my own shortcrust pastry. And a few tries later, I finally managed to make my recipe an idiot-proof one.

Ingredients:

  • 250g salted butter
  • 500g plain flour
  • 1 tablespoon castor sugar
  • Some cold water

Preparation:

  1. Place the cold water and a large mixing bowl with a fork (or two) in the refrigerator for about an hour.
  2. Leave the butter in room temperature to soften then cut it into small cubes.
  3. Put the butter cubes into the cold mixing bowl. Sieve the flour over the butter then start mixing the two with the cold fork(s). This has to be done quickly so that the butter doesn't melt before it is well-mixed with the flour.
  4. When the mixture is quite evenly blended, start rubbing the butter into the flour by using only fingertips, very lightly.
  5. Try to lift it and rub it up high then let it fall back into the bowl so that the mixture will capture as much of air as possible to make the pastry light.
  6. When the mixture is well blended and looks really fine, add a tablespoon of the cold water into the mixture.
  7. Bring the flour-butter mixture and the water together by using the fork till it starts to cling together.
  8. Then knead with hands till the dough is well mixed and doesn't leave crumbs in the bowl. If the mixture doesn't stick properly, keep adding water by dipping hands in the cold water and continue to knead.
  9. When douch is ready, wrap in cling film and store in the refrigerator for about an hour.
  10. Leave to room temperature again before rolling out for baking.

Versatility Note:

  1. Some people use a knife instead of a fork to bring the mixture together but I find using a fork is so much easier, and it helps capturing air even from the start.
  2. There is no specific amount of water that must be used, it could depend on the type of flour used too.
  3. Placing the mixing bowl and utensils in the refrigerator before hand is to help keep the temperature low so that the butter would not get greasy too quickly.
  4. I usually break the dough and roll into a few smaller ones and wrap each in cling films. This way I can store them in the refridgerator separately and split the baking in a few different batches.
  5. The dough will also freeze up to 3 months if you wish. Just make sure that you leave it to room temperature before rolling.