Pastry

Pastry

By
From
A Year In My Kitchen

This is the recipe I invariably turn to whenever I need a pastry base and it has been a toolbox standby for the past 20 years or so! It is very easy… but then most things are with practice. Technically, it is a pâte sucrée or sweet flan pastry, though I have been known to omit the sugar and add thyme, lemon zest, grated pecorino or Parmesan to use it as the base for a savoury tart.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
500g plain flour
pinch sea salt
250g unsalted butter, chilled and diced into small cubes
50g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 lemon, finely grated zest
1 organic free-range egg
1 egg yolk
80ml ice-cold water

Method

  1. Sift the flour and salt into a mound on a cool surface. Scatter the butter, sugar, vanilla and lemon zest over the flour, then toss the ingredients together using a knife or pastry scraper. Make a hollow in the middle and add the whole egg, yolk and water and toss again.
  2. Gather the dough close to you and, with the heel of your hand, work it away in a quick movement. Keep bringing the dough back to you and working it until it is evenly combined. (Don’t worry if little bits of butter show through, it is important not to overwork the dough.)
  3. Once the dough has come together, continue to knead for a minute or so, very lightly. Wrap the pastry in greaseproof paper and chill for 20 minutes (no longer or it will be too difficult to roll out).
  4. Rolling out and making a tart case

    Dust a rolling pin and your surface lightly with flour. Unwrap the pastry, place on the floured surface and start to roll. When the pastry ball has become a flat circular disc, lift and turn it 90°. Dust with flour and continue to roll, turning it from time to time, until the dough is 5mm thick and the desired shape.
  5. Lay the rolling pin on the edge of the pastry and roll the dough around it. Gently lift over the tart case, then unroll the pastry, allowing it to fall loosely over the tin. With your fingertips, lightly press the dough into the sides and base of the tin. With a sharp knife, trim away the extra pastry overhanging the rim. Prick the base all over with a fork and chill the tart case for 25–30 minutes before baking to prevent shrinking during cooking.
  6. To bake the pastry case blind (ie before filling), line the pastry case with greaseproof paper and baking beans and bake, following the guidelines in individual recipes.

Pastry tips

  • Always use fine quality ingredients – good unsalted butter, very fresh organic free-range eggs and proper vanilla extract, not synthetic vanilla essence.

    Work quickly on a cold surface – marble is ideal.

    Rest the pastry twice in the fridge (before and after shaping). This helps to prevent shrinking during cooking.
Tags:
seasonal
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