Introducing, the best and easiest shortcrust pastry recipe, ever
This is a rustic, simple, easy to make shortcrust pastry recipe. And it’s the best. It meal preps well, only contains 4 ingredients, uses 1 bowl and has endless shortcrust pastry filling options both sweet and savoury.
I used to buy my shortcrust pastry (and puff). The thought of homemade shortcrust, by me, seemed impossible, time consuming and out of my skillset. Until I watched my mum make it one day. Introducing, the best and easiest shortcrust pastry recipe, ever.
I was visiting and we were tossing up what to have for lunch. As usual, she checked the fridge and starting listing off what was in there, ready to whip together something random from the fridge. She’s the ultimate in winging it in the kitchen. Now I know where I get it from.
“I know!” she said. “Quiche Lorraine”.
Yum. she makes a good one too. Soul food on a cold day to warm you up fresh out of the oven. But I was worried it’d take AAAAGES because, pastry.
This is when I learnt that shortcrust pastry is a cinch to make. It’s easy, simple, low maintenance. You can’t really stuff it up.
There’s one rule she mentioned that has stuck in my head. You add ½ the amount of butter to flour. So 160g flour. 80g butter. And a splash of cold water to bring it together. Thats all it takes.
I have this saying: it’s not difficult, it’s different.
It relates to how we immediately assume a cooking process must be difficult because we haven’t made it before. For example: Kimchi, labneh cheese, sausage rolls, a tasty pasta sauce.
Whatever it is. It always seems difficult if:
- you haven’t been exposed to it
- you don’t have any reference points for it
- the price of it in the shops seems expensive to you
But it’s not always true. So next time you find yourself at the shops, eyeing off the labneh. Just remember it’s yoghurt strained through a cheesecloth left out of the fridge for 24hours. That’s it.
Here’s the ingredients list of a well-known shortcrust pastry you can buy Australia wide
This product can be bought for next to nothing but it’s full of questionable ingredients. Before you feel bad for buying your pastry. I want to point out that pre-made food can save dinner sometimes but when looking at these ingredients, do you think your body knows what the heck it’s processing? My main job here is to lift the lid on how simple cooking can be and I’m sure you’ll agree that homemade shortcrust pastry is worth the very little effort you need to put in.
Packaged shortcrust pastry ingredients
- Wheat flour
- Vegetable margarine (plam oil, water, salt, vegetable emulsifiers (471, 472c), natural flavour, antioxidant (304), natural colour (160a))
- Acidity regulator (citric acid)
- Baking powder (rice flour, mineral salts (450, 500))
Do I still buy shortcrust from time to time? At this point in my life, no. If I had to buy pastry I’d opt for puff. The ingredients list isn’t much better but I prefer the finished product. There are some brands with better ingredients but you need to get to a health food store. In particular: Borg’s has an awesome puff without any processed elements.
In a bowl, we’re combining the flour, butter, salt and water.
Mix it together with the tips of your fingers. Rubbing the butter into the flour. You will only dirty 1 bowl bringing this shortcrust pastry together. There’s no kneading involved making this shortcrust pastry, simple and less to clean up. How good is that.
As you rub the flour and butter together. It creates lots of little balls of buttery dough. It’s mixed together when it’s mixed together, if that makes sense. No more flour or butter hanging out in the bowl. They’re all friends, mushed together with the tips of your fingers.
What should your pastry look and feel like at this point? It’ll feel like it can be rolled with a rolling pin, while retaining shape. Like it can be rolled into a ball (which you’re about to do) and it’ll stay in shape.
If it’s feeling extra dry, like you need to do more weights to be strong enough to roll the pastry out, add another tbsp of water and mix in with your fingers.
Now that your pastry is together. Form a ball.
Once it’s in a ball. Wrap it up, if you use cling wrap it’s the best option. Or use your favourite cling wrap alternative. It goes to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
During this 30 minutes we’re chilling our pastry. Shortcrust pastry produces a better result when you chill it and bake it chilled (remember this for when we remove from the fridge).
This is a perfect time to mention, this could be a Sunday morning meal prep job while you’re drinking a tea/coffee and waking up. Then you can store it in the fridge to use throughout the week. You’re already half way to dinner.
How long will shortcrust pastry last in the fridge? I use the pizza dough rule here. When I make pizza dough, I’m happy for it to sit in the fridge for no more than 3 days. Once 3 days is up, i freeze. Shortcrust does have butter, so you could probably stretch it to 4. But if you forget to cook it, just pop it in the fridge.
After 30 minutes. Remove your shortcrust pastry from the fridge and allow to cool, so it’s manageable.
How long this takes will depend on your kitchen and how warm it is. In summer, this takes me all of 5 minutes.
In Autumn, the other day, it took closer to 20 minutes. To which I was really impatient and frustrated because cooking a simple savoury tart for dinner is a well oiled machine in the house of Lunch Lady Lou. I’d prepped my ingredients and we headed out on a pre-dinner walk. I knew (or thought I knew) I needed a relaxed 30 minutes to blind bake and cook our dinner – all while cleaning up the kitchen, making the final post dinner cleanup easy and fast. And then I realised it wasn’t even 18 degrees in the kitchen. Not to worry though. I used a bowl of hot water and placed another bowl over the top of it. So the dough could gently warm up a bit faster, without heating the dough.
Grease your baking tin. I love to use tallow for this. Or ghee if i don’t have tallow. It produces a crispy crunch. Butter is another good option.
Scatter some flour on a chopping board and place pastry on it. Use a floured rolling pin to roll out the pastry into a round shape a few cm’s larger than your baking dish. Gently fold the pastry back over itself (with the rolling pin separating the two sides and place into your baking dish.
Pat the shortcrust in place. If the pastry is off centre, use a knife to chop off extra bits and rearrange them around the dish to make it evenish. We’re not aiming for perfection here. Not at all. This is a rustic, simple, easy to make shortcrust pastry recipe.
The blind bake.
You may be thinking, what the Lou. You want me to make my own pastry and now I need to blind, what, it?
Remember our motto. It’s not difficult, just different.
Blind baking is when you bake your pastry BEFORE adding the filling. We do this by rolling out the pastry onto our dish. Weighing our the down with either baking beads or rice, beans, chickpeas (lined with baking paper). And baking in a hot oven 200C fan forced for 10 minutes.
The aim of blind baking is to cook the tart shell enough that the base of it wont be soggy once you add your filling – as it can take a while to cook.
Consider blind baking a nice head start to perfectly cooking crispy, buttery shortcrust pastry.
I don’t own baking beans what else can I use instead?
To blind bake your shortcrust pie pastry without baking beans, do not worry. You can use many ingredients that are most likely in your pantry. Rice, beans and chickpeas all work really well.
Now its time to think about your filling
As you’re reading this list, you may think some of these belong with puff pastry over shortcrust. While it may be true in a classical sense. Why ruin a good eating experience because you don’t have ‘the right’ pastry? I believe in food we can get caught up with the way its been done before without thinking practically about what we have in our kitchens and pantries to use at the time.
This can be a fine line because tradition, lineage and culture are a beautiful thing. I choose to believe the line is: respect tradition but dare to recreate. If we didn’t, we’d be stuck in the past.
There are the classic tart/pie filling combos
- Tomato tart
- Spinach and feta
- Creamy chicken
The best and easiest shortcrust pastry recipe, ever
- 160 g plain flour
- 80 g butter
- A good pinch salt
- 2 tbsp cold water
- Remove butter from fridge around 10 minutes before you want to use. This may vary depending on your climate. You want your butter easy to pinch and 'smoosh' in between your fingers. So it still holds its shape and isn't runny, but warmed slightly. Chop butter into small cubes, around 1cm x 1cm, place in a bowl.
- Place flour in bowl, along with salt and water.
- Use your pointer fingers and thumbs to rub the butter into the flour. I know that may sound weird but what we're aiming for is to combine the butter / water / flour / salt. This shouldn't take an overly long time and once you start you'll see it comes together quite fast. It's a very meditative process. Keep going until everything is combined.
- Make a ball with your 'dough' and wrap in glad wrap. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill.
- If you're planning to make a tart or use your shortcrust pastry straight away - preheat your oven to 200C fan forced and grease your baking tin. I love to use tallow for this. Or ghee if i don’t have tallow. It produces a crispy crunch. Butter is another good option.
- Scatter some flour on a chopping board and place pastry on it. Use a floured rolling pin to roll out the pastry into a round shape a few cm’s larger than your baking dish.
- Gently fold the pastry back over itself (with the rolling pin separating the two sides and place into your baking dish.
- Pat the shortcrust in place. If the pastry is off centre, use a knife to chop off extra bits and rearrange them around the dish to make it evenish. We’re not aiming for perfection here. Not at all. This is a rustic, simple, easy to make shortcrust pastry recipe.
- Use a fork to pierce the pastry a few times over the base. This allows air to be released and won't puff your pastry.
- Place a sheet of baking paper on top on your pastry and fill the pastry dish with pie beads or rice or beans. This means your pastry won't puff out of shape as it cooks.
- Bake in oven for 10 minutes or until the base is cooked. It should be lovely golden in colour. Nothing too crazy dark in colour, as it needs to handle another 20 minutes or so in the oven while you cook your tart filling. If you think its browning up too much, remove from the oven early.
- Your shortcrust pastry is ready. At this point, you could cool and store in the fridge but I most often would make a pie or tart straight away. If I'm going to meal prep this recipe, I make the shortcrust pastry dough and transfer to fridge still in the ball.
- Now it's time to add your chosen filling and get baking.