Basic techniques: Shortcrust pastry

Updated on 12 September 2012 | 0 Comments

Golden flaky pastry is one of life's pleasures. It's also really easy to make. We've trawled the internet for you to find out the best way to do it.

To begin

First off, you need to decide if you’re going to make your shortcrust pasty using a food processor or by hand, as the technique for each is slightly different.

What not to do

Don’t overwork the mixture, either with your hands or with the blades of the food processor - you’ll melt the butter and the resulting pastry won't be flaky. Take your time and treat it gently.

Delia’s hand method

Delia says the butter must be at room temperature for her hand-made method. She also favours using 50/50 butter and lard (this is also the favourite combination of my Granny – Ed.) The rest of Delia’s method is here.

Gordon’s chilled food processor method

The Big G makes his shortcrust in a food processor, and ensures that everything is chilled right down.

Healthy versions and other options

Here’s a video for a ‘healthy’ pastry; though surely part of the joy of pastry is the fat? Once you’ve got the basics sorted, you can tweak the dough by adding other flavourings. Dan Lepard has some great tips including adding cheese or mustard to the dough mix.

Rolling out

Dig out the rolling pin, though if you don’t have one a wine bottle works well (you can chill it too). As for how thick to roll it... well that depends on what you’re covering. The sweary Scot aims for a thickness of a £1 coin, which we think is about right.

Blind baking

Blind baking means partly cooking the pastry case before putting in your filling. This means you don’t get the dreaded soggy bottom. You don’t need expensive baking beads – though they are good –, but baking paper is a must. There’s a how to blind bake guide on, and BBC Good Food has a step by step photo guide too.

Tell us your tips

Which method do you prefer? Have you got any other tips to share? Let us know in the comments section below.

Practice your pastry case technique with these recipes

Lancashire red onion and pepper tarts recipe

Seasonal vegetable and parmesan tart

Salmon, wholegrain mustard and dill tartlets recipe

Rick Stein's apple tarts recipe

More baking how to guides

Basic techniques: How to ice cupcakes using a piping bag

Basic techniques: How to cream butter and sugar

Basic techniques: How to separate an egg

Basic techniques: How to knead bread


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