Rich shortcrust pastry

Rich shortcrust pastry

By
From
How to Cook Pastry
Makes
24cm flan ring
Photographer
Peter Cassidy

Shortcrust is traditionally made with a combination of lard and butter. Lard lends a superior shortness but lacks the flavour of butter, so we generally use all butter.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
250g plain flour
pinch salt
140g chilled butter
2 egg yolks
3-4 tablespoons chilled water

Method

  1. Sift the flour and salt into a medium bowl.
  2. Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the flour. Using 2 cutlery knives and working in a scissor action, cut the butter into the flour, keeping the 2 knives in contact. Using knives rather than fingers helps to keep the butter and flour cool.
  3. Once the butter has been broken down to small pea-sized pieces, use your fingertips to gently rub the little pieces of flour and butter together.
  4. Give the bowl an occasional shake to lift larger lumps of butter to the surface. The mixture should become a uniform fine, pale crumb with no visible lumps of butter. If the mixture begins to turn yellow, the butter is softening too quickly and you need to put the bowl in the fridge for 5–10 minutes to chill the butter.
  5. Mix the egg yolks and water together in a small bowl with a fork until evenly combined. Add 2–2½ tbsp of the egg yolk mix to the rubbed-in mixture and stir with a cutlery knife, to distribute the liquid as quickly as possible (this will create flakes of pastry).
  6. Pull some of the flakes to the side and feel them; if they are very dry, add a little more of the liquid to any dry areas of crumb and use the knife again. Don’t be tempted to add too much liquid, as it can make the pastry tough. Once you think the flakes will come together, stop adding liquid.
  7. Use the flat of the knife to bring a few of the flakes and dry crumb together, to create larger lumps. At this stage the pastry should be uniform in colour, not streaky. Continue like this until there are no dry crumbs in the bottom of the bowl.
  8. Pull the pastry together with your hands, shaping it into a flat disc, about 10cm in diameter and 1.5cm thick. Do this as quickly as possible, without overworking the pastry, which also makes it tough. Wrap the pastry in cling film and chill for 20–30 minutes before rolling out. This will relax it and prevent too much shrinkage, as well as firm up the butter.

Variations

  • To make rich herb shortcrust pastry, add ½–1 tbsp chopped herbs such as thyme, rosemary, oregano or sage, or 1 tbsp chopped chives to the crumb mixture before the liquid.

    To make rich cheese shortcrust pastry, reduce the butter to 110g and add 30g finely grated hard cheese, such as Cheddar or Parmesan, before the liquid.

    To make wholemeal shortcrust pastry, use wholemeal flour in place of plain, omit the egg yolk and use 80g butter and 45g lard. You will need a little extra water too.

    To make plain shortcrust pastry, use 80g butter and 45g lard and omit the egg yolks. It may be necessary to add up to 1 tbsp extra water.

    To make rich sweet shortcrust pastry, add 2–3 tsp caster sugar before the liquid.
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