The basic shortcrust recipe can be varied to suit the size of the plate or tin. The usual proportion is half the amount of fat to the amount of flour but if you like a richer and more crumbly pastry, use
Remember to handle the dough as little as possible, work with well-chilled ingredients and mix them quickly. The dough does not need to be perfectly blended because if it is overworked the baked pastry will be tough and shrink during baking. It is important not to use too much water as it, too, can toughen the pastry. Pastries with a lot of fat need hardly any water and will be rich, short and crumbly after baking.
To make pastry for a
If you make shortcrust pastry with soft margarine or vegetable oil, the technique is different from the traditional method. Put the fat, chilled water and one-third of the flour in a bowl and cream together with a fork, then stir in the remaining flour and lightly knead to make a soft dough.
You can make shortcrust pastry in a food processor, rather than by hand, but take care that it isn’t overworked – never let the dough form into a ball in the machine. Instead, I sometimes just combine the chilled butter and flour in the food processor until it resembles fine breadcrumbs, then transfer to a bowl and mix in the water by hand.
To make a rich, crisp cream cheese pastry, put
Using soured cream, rather than water in the basic shortened pastry recipe (above) results in a tender pastry, ideal for wrapping pâtés en croûte or making tartlet shells.
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