Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Shortcrust pastry

I made some pastry for the Kentish Pie and realized I've never shared a recipe of how to make it.

I admit, I've been lazy and been buying the store bought pie crust, cause it was easy to have it in the freezer, and just take it out when I was in the mood for a pot pie.   Sigh...

But really, it's not that hard to make it myself, and gee, if I can freeze the commercial stuff, why can't I freeze my own home made crust?  DUH!!!!   I think I had a blonde moment or three there.
Shortcrust Pastry fixins

But I digress, and am dithering around here as well.

Oh heck with it, let me just share a story.    Way back in the dark ages,  Grade Eight to be exact, I had a Home Economics  teacher who shared a secret with us on making perfect pastry.  One thing Mrs. Patterson told us was to handle the dough as little as possible.  And if you had cold hands that was even better, and in later years, I would actually set my hands in ice water, to cool them down, before I handled delicate doughs.

Of course we were silly little girls and didn't appreciate just what a gifted teacher she was at the time, and weren't always that complimentary about her. Mrs. Pattersons' nickname was Squirrelly.  I know, not nice.    I did learn a lot in her class. 
By the way, I still have the apron I made in her class, crooked seams, stitches and all.  I even wear it from time to time.  It's red and white checked Gingham. 


Now that I got that out of the way, let me share the how to's on making a good, sturdy shortcrust pastry for meat pies.   This is still flaky, but it  holds  up better for robust fillings.

I like to weigh out flour and fats when I can for baking.   Especially now when I live in a climate where the humidity level can fluctuate a lot.   Weighing allows for a little more exactitude.
Besides which, I have a scale and I know how to use it.   So there.
I also used salted butter this time, cause that's what I had the most of, and I omitted the addition of salt.  But it could have used just a titch more salt. 

Recipe:  Shortcrust Pastry

12 ounces Flour
6 oz.  cold Butter or half butter and half lard, if you like, cut into cubes
3 tablespoons Ice Water, or more as needed. 
1/2 teaspoon salt
Weighing flour

Butter and flour for pastry
Cut the fat into the flour until it resembles rice or bread crumbs, or use a food processor if you like.  I finally got a pastry cutter and used it this time, but in the past and probably in the future as well, I will just use a couple of knives to cut the fat into the flour.   I've been doing it that way for many years and I'm good at it.  

Add 3 tablespoons ice water and fold the flour/fat mixture together.   Mix very gently.   If the flour mixture doesn't start to come together, then add a tablespoon of ice water and mix some more.   (I actually used 6 tablespoons of water for this dough, humidity was low and the flour was very dry).  At this point I dump it out of the bowl onto my counter and use a pastry scraper to finish mixing it together.  Remember, don't let it get too warm, all you get is greasy dough that way.
Pie dough ready for the ice water


I gathered the dough together with the scraper and then divided it in half. Mainly because I was going to bake half of it right away, and didn't want to make a big disc.  I did shape the half that went into the fridge into a disc though.  Also letting the other half rest in the fridge, helped the dough relax a little and made it easier to roll out later on.


Can you see the streaky bits in there?   This tells me that the dough is going to be nice and flaky.   I probably could have added a little more water, but I decided to go ahead with a slightly drier dough.

Rolling out the pie dough
 I love using all the toys at my disposal that I can.   And one of my more recent purchases is this mat.    Oh and the rolling pin as well.  You would not believe how great this is.  
 One little hint, if you are going to make a pie, you can roll the dough over the rolling pin and use that to position the rolled out dough over the pie pan.
I've tried picking up those sheets of nice rolled dough, and had them tear on me. 
 See, easy as pie.
Use a good sharp knife to cut off the excess dough on your pan.  But remember, if you are doing a blind bake first, that the dough will shrink up a little.  I've learned that the hard way, a few times.  sigh

And if you are pre-baking the shell, you can use a fork to prick the bottom to keep it from pooffing up if you don't bake it with some pie weights or beans on top.

So there you have it, my version of Shortcrust Pastry.  







Next up, how to make a really, really, really flaky crust for sweet pies.   But, I'll save that for another post.
In the meantime, I'm heading down to the kitchen to mix up a couple batches of this recipe, and am going to freeze them for future use.   You can never tell when a pie is going to be needed.  
Sid Munkholm
Sid Munkholm

Sid loves to cook, feed people and have fun in the kitchen. She shares her successes and the involuntary offerings she sometimes gives the kitchen goddess as well. And she's still looking for the mythical fairy to help her clean the kitchen after a marathon cooking session. Currently working on a cookbook showcasing the recipes from her Danish heritage.

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