Monday, 28 November 2011

How To - Sweet Shortcrust Pastry

Making pastry is not something I enjoy, however, this recipe is so easy that I don't seem to mind as much anymore.  This is my fail safe as I've made it a few times, and while it can be a bit delicate, it always produces a sweet, short, buttery pastry that crumbles in your mouth, not in your hand. 

Photos will be posted soon!

Ingredients
2 cups plain flour
3/4 cup icing sugar
160g chilled butter, cubed
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbs chilled water

Step 1 - Place flour, icing sugar and butter in a large bowl.  Rub between finger tips until mixture resembles bread crumbs.  
Step 2 - Make a well in the centre and add egg yolk, vanilla and water.  Combine with a butter knife until dough just comes together.
Step 3 - Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until mixture has formed a smooth dough.  Roll into a ball, flatten slightly, wrap in cling wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.


And that is basically it!  What you cook will determine what shape and thickness you roll your dough to and at what temperature it is cooked. 


Pictured here as base for Rich Chocolate Tart
Tips for working with pastry:

  • Temperature and humidity will affect the dough.  Pastry works best when cold, which is why the recipe calls for chilled butter and chilled water.  Cold hand and bowl will also produce a more superior result.  
  • Work quickly!!  This will prevent the butter from getting too warm and it will also prevent the glutens in the flour from developing too quickly.
  • Warm pastry means melted butter.  If the butter is too warm, you will not achieve the desired texture.  This is why it is important to place the pastry in the freezer for 15 minutes before placing in a hot oven.
  • When rubbing the butter into the flour and sugar, lift and drop from a height as you rub.  It will assist in aerating the dough.
  • After kneading, the dough must be relaxed in order to allow the glutens to react with the water.  Wrap in cling wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. This will create a beautiful elastic dough that will easily roll out.
  • Unbaked pastry that is firmly wrapped can be kept in the fridge for 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.  Bring to room temperature before rolling out and baking.
  • When baking, preheat a tray with the oven and place the tart case on this when you are ready to bake.  This will allow the base of the tart to cook evenly.


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