Making shortcrust pastry from scratch is easy, but it can be a tricky business, especially if you’ve never done it before – or only ever had bad results! Here are a few things to keep in mind so you get it right.
- The butter needs to be cold, and if you have to add water, it’s best to use chilled.
- Use cold hands to handle the dough – run them under cold water if you need to, then dry.
- Work quickly and handle the dough as little as possible.
- Chilling the dough is important – and it’s usually done twice: first after combining the ingredients, then again after using the dough to line the tart case. This helps prevent the pastry from shrinking during baking.
- “Blind baking” means lining the pastry case with baking paper, filling it with weights, rice or dried beans, and baking it for about 10-20 minutes (or the time nominated in the recipe). You can then remove the weights and paper, and bake for another 5-10 minutes, until golden. This ensures crisp pastry, even after the case is filled.
- If you’d like to seal the base (a handy tip to help stop the pastry from going soggy after you’ve added the filling), you can brush it with eggwhite after blind baking, but before returning the empty pastry case to the oven to brown up.