Shortcrust pastry is one of the easiest and most convenient pastries you can make. You can use it for sweet and savoury pies, quiches and tarts.

To make shortcrust pastry you only need a few basic ingredients, ingredients you will already have if you enjoy baking in the kitchen. These are flour, butter, lard if you want to and water. When you make this pastry you always use half the fat to the weight of flour, in other words if you need 200g plain flour you would use 100g butter or lard. If you wanted to use a butter/lard mix then you split that into half again so it would be 50g butter and 50g lard.

The main points to remember when making this pastry is to get air into the ingredients as you make it. This can be achieved by lifting up the ingredients into the air as you mix them together. Once you have your shortcrust pastry it’s important to allow the dough to rest for a minimum of 20 minutes in the fridge. This will give the dough time to get more elastic making it easier to roll, if you were to roll this after making you would have problems. To make shortcrust pastry you don’t need a lot of water, just a few tablespoons will do as too much and the dough will be soggy and not easy to manage.

Below is a recipe for shortcrust pastry. I sometimes use this when making pies or tarts.

· 230g plain flour

· 1-2 tbsp. ice cold water

· 120g butter OR:

· 60g butter

· 60g lard

Blind Baking

One of the things you might have to do when you are making your quiches, tarts etc. is to blind bake. What that is is you make the pastry, rest it then put it inside the flan or tart case, add some greaseproof paper to the base then on top of that baking beans. This is important in some recipes as they use quick cooking ingredients like eggs, cheese, jam etc. and those will be cooked before the pastry. You then cook the flan or tart case for a few minutes before removing, add the filling then popping it back into the oven. Using baking beans or weights like that when blind baking stops the pastry from rising.

You don’t have to buy baking beans or weights either, you can use all sorts of food items found in the kitchen. Foods like beans, peas or pulses can all be used in place of baking beans and will save you money, especially if you already have the beans, pulses or peas.

Next time you are baking why not use shortcrust pastry instead of your normal pastry? It will make a big difference to the taste of the pies, flans, quiches or tarts you are baking.

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