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VEG - SHORTCRUST PASTRY
This pastry is the easiest to make and the pastry that is used most often. It can be used as a base for fruit pies, chocolate pies, tarts and savoury flans such as a quiche.This dough can also be flavoured with herbs or spices to complement the filling. A little strong hard cheese for a cheese flan would give a terrific taste to the pastry. Many recipes would give you options as to the type of fat that can be used to give you different finishes
but I would recommend that you simply use butter or homemade clarified butter as they give the perfect finish every time. Other fats need you to understand their composition and the way they work so a perfect finish would be dicey. Increasing the fat content just a little bit gives a richer finish but would be very difficult to handle. The pastry will need to be pressed into the baking dish with your fingertips. Make sure you seal any crack that is there. If you perforate the pastry with a fork you will get an evenly baked shell .......even if you bake with a filling. The holes allow the hot air to come through ensuring an all over cooking.
Shortcrust pastry made with 250 gms of flour will make a 9 inch open pie or 6 small tartlets. Ofcourse most recipes use a reasonably thick crust which is more difficult to cook evenly. I RECOMMEND THAT YOU MAKE THE CRUST AS THIN AS YOU CAN ......FIRSTLY IT IS VERY VERY ELEGANT , SECONDLY YOU ARE EATING LESS FAT AND THIRDLY (AND THIS IS VERY IMP) YOU WILL HAVE GREATER SUCCESS WITH THE FINISHED PRODUCT.
ALWAYS CHILL THE DOUGH BEFORE BAKING AND USE COLD INGREDIENTS WHILE MAKING THE DOUGH.
Your basic shortcrust pastry is in the proportion of half the amount of fat to the amount of flour used. If you wish to make it richer use a bit more fat but lessen the water as you need the dough to be very stiff and crumbly rather than smooth. An egg yolk may be added to give a really golden finish to the dough. I have on occasions used only yolks and fat to bind the dough and ommitted the water completely. The dough will resemble lumps and you need to press it into the tin with your fingers........but its an amazingly light pastry.
250 gms flour
125 gms diced chilled butter
2/3 tablespoons chilled water.
Place the bowl to chill. Mix the flour with the diced butter and form into breadcrumbs with your fingers (handle lightly ) add the chilled water or yolk and water and bind together till all the crumbs are just held together. Chill for half an hour. Use as required.