Short Crust Pastry

For this recipe I could just give you the list of ingredients and tell you the method and leave you to it, but with short pastry I don’t feel that would be sufficient to help you create that perfect pastry, whilst this is a simple recipe, you do need to have a level of understanding about the ingredients and the technique I use, to give perfect results.
When you master the art of making this simple pastry the results can be very rewarding, a good short crust pastry should almost melt in the mouth, it needs to be light and crumbly.
To the untrained observer one might think the only difference between short pastry and sweet pastry is the sugar, but this is not the case, we use different fats and we mix the pastry to a different degree, so the process is considerably different. A key element of this pastry is the white shortening, you can use lard which would also add flavor, there is an American product called Crisco which gives truly excellent results, Crisco is a White Shorting, a vegetable fat, a similar product in the UK is Trex. Although, Crisco is now also available in the UK, and I have also obtained Crisco it in Malaysia, Singapore and Holland.

As we go through the various stages of this recipe I will explain exactly what we are trying to achieve and why. I always make short pastry by hand never with a mixing machine, this is so I have total control and “feel” regarding the level of mixing the pastry is exposed to, over mixing is the biggest failure in making short pastry.

Short pastry is made by “feel”, so I make it by hand regardless if it is for 10 portions or 110 portions. You can of course make short pastry by machine if you wish, I have made it many times on a machine but I prefer to make it by hand. Making good short pastry is a skill which you will acquire by practice, but it must be a hands on experience to fully appreciate how the pastry is coming together during mixing process.

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Short Crust Pastry
  1. Mix the flour and salt in suitable container big enough to allow you to mix your pastry. I prefer to use a large deep Gastronome pan.
  2. Add the room temperature butter and white shortening and rub in to create a sandy texture, which will resemble crumble mix.
  3. Take Note;- We are about to add water, Adding the water to short crust pastry is a critical part of the recipe, not enough and your pastry won’t hold together for rolling, add too much water and the pastry will be easy to work with, but produce a harder, chewy and less attractive pastry. A key point here is you can always add a little more water at any time, but you can’t remove water if you add too much. We are not going to mix our pastry to a smooth dough at this point, even after we have added the water the pastry will still look like a crumbly slightly moist mix, not at all suitable for rolling out.
  4. There is a reason why I don’t specify the quantity of water required, is because flour can vary in it's absorbency rate, are you using soft flour or strong flour, all all-purpose flour, are you buying your flour in Europe, Malaysia or Africa, these factors can influence how much water you need to add.
  5. Here we can see the nice even sandy texture we are trying to achieve before adding the water.
  6. This image shows what the pastry looks like after we have added the water, as you see it is an uneven mix of clumps past and nowhere near the smooth pastry you might expect, it is in fact under mixed, it is this under mixing that will ensure your finished pastry will have a light short texture.
  7. Useful Tip;- if you’re working with a larger size batch of pastry, 3kg or 4 kg or larger you don’t have to add water to the whole batch at once, put some of your crumble mix into a separate container and just wet the amount of pastry you need to use at the moment, this makes mixing and controlling the water a lot easier.
  8. You can see in the image here the wetted crumb mix is in the container but it is not yet a paste, I simply pick up a handful and place it directly on the bench and kneed it with both hands to a ball, it takes about 10 seconds and there you see the ball of pastry in my hand The advantage of doing it this way is every handful of pastry is freshly mixed and most importantly not over mixed the end result will be light melt in the mouth pastry.
  9. Here in this next picture you can see the ball of pastry on the bench ready to be rolled out, you will see the pastry is cracked slightly and when you roll it out it may crack a little more around the edges as you roll the pastry out. This is where skill in using a rolling pin comes in, not everyone is skilled in rolling out pastry. My advice is let the rolling pin do the work just use a light even pressure on the pin, don’t be tempted to press hard, brute force is sure to end in cracked and broken pastry. .
  10. Here we can see our short pastry on the rolling pin being used to line a plate ready to make a pie.
  11. Uses;- Short Pastry is used for savoury flans, and quiches, various savoury pies such as steak pie, and Chicken Pie etc . This pastry is never used for sweet pies or sweet flans.
  12. This short pastry recipe is only suitable for use within 2 hours of being made once you have added the water. if left to long it will dehydrate and become more difficult to handle.
  13. Crisco, White Shortening, a really good product that will almost guarantee you end up with a good short pastry. .
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