My sister is visiting for the holidays this year, taking a break from the hot Australian summer. We’ve been spending our time trying out recipes for cookies, pastries and savory meals. Along the way, Colleen has been teaching me to make pastry of various kinds, something that was sadly lacking from my repertoire.
Colleen tells me that shortcrust pastry gets its texture from shortening the gluten strands with a fat. This makes it melt-in-the-mouth. In Seattle, the humidity in the air requires attention to the texture of the mix and you may need to add or subtract flour to get the desired end. A light hand is needed to avoid overworking the pastry.
1.5 sticks of butter at room temperature
2 cups all purpose flour
1 large egg
2-3 tablespoons of water
A large bowl
Plastic wrap or wax paper (either is good)
Pie dish or dishes
Pastry weights (this can be rice or uncooked split peas)
Oven preheated to 400F
Add flour to bowl
Break butter into small pieces and rub through the flour
Texture should hold together when squeezed
Add egg and one tablespoon of water
Mix together to create a soft ball
(you may need to add more water)
Pastry should leave sides of the bowl clean and not be sticky
Wrap in plastic or wax paper and put in fridge for half an hour.
This allows the gluten strands to relax and not be stretched, creating the desired ‘shortness’.
Take out of refrigerator and place between two sheets of plastic or wax paper.
Use rolling pin to roll out to the desired size and thickness.
Remove one side of the paper or plastic and roll loosely around the rolling pin to lift it.
Roll out over pie dish, pastry side down.
Ease pastry into the corners without stretching.
Finish the edges by pinching between finger and thumb to flute edges.
Use parchment paper as a barrier for the weights. Add pastry weights to fill base evenly.
This will prepare the pastry and cook it partially so it does not become soggy when you add a wet filling.
Place in oven and cook for 15 minutes.
Remove the weights and parchment paper (dough will still be moist on bottom).
Cook for another 5 minutes to dry the bottom of the pastry.
The pastry is now ready for filling.