I know everyone has their own method of creating shortcrust pastry and some find pastry plain scary.  Here are a few tips I’ve been given or learnt over time..

  • If you’re looking for light short-crust pastry for pies and quiches etc., use half plain and half self-raising flour, creating a lighter airy feel to your pastry.
  • Shortcrust is named from the shortening (Lard) often added to pastry.  Do you need to add it?  No, I’ve used margarine and unsalted butter and you get just as good results in my opinion.
  • Remember to pre-heat a metal baking tray in the oven, before putting the pastry case in, avoiding any embarrassing ‘soggy bottoms.’
  • Using a metal, loose-bottom tin or enamel dish – this will aid a level bake, cooking the pastry evenly.
  • To avoid ‘shrink back’ let the pastry rest in the fridge inside the flan dish or tray before blind baking.  This allows the gluten strands in the flour after kneading to relax first. This will prevent the shrink in the oven later!
  • Some people insist on pricking the pastry with a fork to stop air bubbles forming.  Personal choice if you’re not using rice or beans I would say.  You don’t want deep holes, allowing any mixture to run through to the tin base and cause the pastry to stick.
  • Use rice rather than beans, when baking pastry blind, covering first with baking parchment or cling film.  This avoid indents from rice or beans in the pastry as it cooks.  Using rice allows you to get right into the corners that baking beans don’t always allow.
  • Removing excess pastry from the dish or tin.  Some tell you to push a rolling pin across the edges and remove the raw pastry.  I leave this until it’s cooked and cut away the crumbly pastry.  If the pie has a lid, then cut first and crimp the edges, before putting in the oven.

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