Tuesday’s Tip of the Week, Shortcrust Pastry

A shortcrust dough is a dough made of just flour, a fat and some water. It contains no additive to make it rise (such as yeast, baking soda, etc) and is generally used to make pie or tart bases. A shortcrust dough should usually be light and crumbly and not at all oily. Because of the simplicity of ingredients (there’s just 3 of them) a good shortcrust pastry generally is a result of technique.

Shortcrust doughs usually are a 2:1 ratio mix of plain white flour and butter, so for every 100g of flour used, use 50g of butter, although I’ve found that just a bit more than half of fat is needed, let’s say 65g for 100g of flour. The flour must be sifted. try and ensure that all elements used in the process are as cold as possible; use cold utensils,  cold water, don’t overwork with your hands (they’re warm), a cold marble surface… you get the idea. The reason apparently is because the more the dough and butter warm up the oilier your crust will be.
Cut your butter into small cubes and add a pinch of salt to the flour. In a food processor (you can combine them manually, but thats both time consuming and more likely to warm up the dough) add the butter cubes to the flour and pulse a couple of seconds at a time for about one minute. Remember, a good shortcrust must not be overworked to ensure it’s light and crumbly. Once the butter and flour have come together and formed a somewhat cohesive mass, it’s now time to add the water. Take the dough out of the processor and place in a cold bowl, add water by the tablespoon as you cut it into the dough using your fingertips.
Apparently there’s no set amount of water that can be prescribed, as each flour batch behaves differently, but I’ve found that about 2-3tbsp of water are enough for 150g of flour.
Once the water is absorbed (don’t overwork the dough) bring the dough together into a ball, cover in cling film and allow it to rest in the fridge between 20min to an hour before working it.
Your dough is now ready to roll and use as a tart/pie base. Enjoy!