9 Tips for Making the Best Shortcrust Pastry

Shortcrust Pastry. Getty Images

Making pastry is one of life's great pleasures - well it is to me. To ensure successful pastry every time first follow these handy hints and tips on pastry making.

1. Before You Start Making Pastry

Gather together all your ingredients and weigh everything. If you are not sure how much pastry to make check my pastry calculator.
Preparing in this way means not only do you check you have everything, but also making the pastry is much quicker and easier with everything to hand.

2. Gather Your Equipment

Next, gather together all the equipment you will need, this also means you will work more quickly.

Equipment Needed.

  • A large baking bowl.
  • A rolling pin
  • A dinner knife
  • A flat spatula
  • Plastic wrap/cling film

    3. Keep Your Hands Cool When Making Pastry

    There is an old saying that cold hands make good pastry. The first golden rule of making shortcrust pastry is keep the ingredients, the bowl and the hands as cool as possible. When the pastry mixture becomes too warm the end result is a greasy and/or heavy dull finished pastry crust. Run your hands under cold water before starting to mix pastry.

    4. Keep Ingredients Cool

    If the butter or lard warms up too much (like on a hot day for example), then pop it in the refrigerator from time to time.

    5. Use a Cool Work Surface
    Roll pastry on a cool surface (a marble slab is perfect), dusted with flour.

      6. Work Quickly

      Don't dawdle when making pastry.

      Working quickly (another good reason to make sure you have assembled all your ingredients and equipment)makes lighter pastry as the lard ot butter doesn't have time to get too warm, making the pastry greasy and heavy.

        7. Rest, Rest and Rest again

        Once the pastry dough is made it must be wrapped in plastic wrap or greaseproof paper and rested in the refrigerator for a minimum of 15 minutes.

        Resting allows time for the gluten (proteins) in the dough to relax. If you attempt to roll the dough as soon as you have mixed it, it is like trying to roll a sheet of elastic. It will roll, but seconds later shrinks back. Likewise, once rolled, rest the pastry again. If you cook pastry that has been rolled and not rested it will shrink in the oven.

          8. Use a Hot Oven

          Always put pastry into a preheated, hot oven (425 °F /220 °C/ Gas 7). If the oven is too cool the pastry will melt rather than cook.

            9. A Crisp Bottom for Your Pastry

            No one wants a soggy bottom when their pastry is cooked, so to ensure your tart or pie is crisp,  place a heavy baking sheet in the oven whilst it is heating up, then place the tart or pie directly on the heated tray.

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