Shortcrust pastry isn’t difficult to make. You can buy ready-made, of course, but it can sometimes be rather expensive especially when you consider it’s only flour, butter and water. Home-made pastry generally tastes nicer too.
I’m making my shortcrust pastry in the food processor, but it’s quite easy to make it without the machine – just rub the butter into the flour using your fingertips – get your hands as cold as possible first. (See the glossary if you’re not sure how to ‘rub in’)
(Makes about 375g/13 oz)
- 225g/8 oz/2 cups plain (all purpose) flour
- 115g/4 oz/1/2 cup chilled and diced butter (or other hard cooking fat)
- 45-60 ml/3-4 tbsp iced water
(The less water you use, the better the taste and texture. It’s crispier and crumblier but it can be difficult to work with when it’s like that.)
- Pinch of salt (optional)
Put the flour, salt and butter into the food processor and process for a few seconds until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
Sprinkle the water on and process on pulse until the mixture starts to hold together. Don’t let the pastry form a ball in the processor. If you overwork it, the pastry will be easier to handle, but will have a harder and less crumbly texture. Practice makes perfect!
Remove the mixture from the processor…
…and form into a ball. Remember, don’t knead or over-handle it! Wrap the ball in cling film and chill for 30 minutes.
Place the ball on a lightly floured board and roll out to the desired thickness and shape for whatever it is you’re making. (If you’re making something like pasties, then you’ll need to cut the ball into smaller pieces and make balls out of them before rolling.)