How to make pastry

Video guide to making short crust pastry

Hello, I'm Ravinder and I'm going to show you how to make short crust pastry.

Ingredients for short crust pastry

So in my bowl right here I've got 200g of plain flour. I've got 50g of butter and 50g of vegetable shortening, although you could use lard if you wanted to, half a teaspoon of mustard powder and about 30 to 40g of mature cheddar cheese. The mustard just helps really pick up and lift that flavour.

So I'm going to get started and what I'm going to do first of all is I'm just going to grate in the butter and the lard. The reason I grate it in is it's just much nicer to have small bits of fat so when you're rubbing it in, it just dissolves more quickly and you end up with this lovely gravel of flour  and butter, which is exactly what you're after to start your pastry. It doesn't matter if you can't grate the tiny end bits.

This pastry would be ideal for something like a quiche or a tart or flan. Obviously this is a savoury pastry, because I'm going to put cheese and mustard in but if you wanted to, you could turn this into sweet pastry quite easily by adding about a dessertspoonful of caster sugar and you could flavour it with either lemon zest or orange or maybe even vanilla.

Mix together the butter and flour

The important thing here is that all your fat should be very very cold. People often talk about having a talent for making pastry but really it just comes down to how cold your ingredients are, how cold you can keep things.

OK, make sure you've got all your better out of your grater. Give it a good shake. Once you've got to this stage, the best thing to do, really, is to use a palette knife to mix in the butter and the flour until you've got a really smooth even gravel, breadcrumbs really. And the reason you're using your knife is you don't want warm hands touching the pastry at this stage because it just won't be as crisp. Just be quite gentle and give your bowl a shake and that way, the big lumps will just come to the top.

You can see now that it's a nice even, sort of nubbly, gravelly texture, and this is where I'm going to put in my cheese and my mustard powder. And again, just with the knife, just mix it all through.

The trick to keeping your pastry light

It's helpful just to use a flicking action to mix it, it just keeps your pastry nice and light. And now I'm ready to add my water and I've got really icy cold water here. The best thing to do is if you're not sure of how cold the water is, just drop an ice cube into it. I'm not going to need all this water but I'm just going to start putting a little bit in at a time and you'll be able to judge when it's enough because the pastry will start coming together.

Little bit more. Just going to work that a little bit. And when it starts coming together like this, almost into a ball, sticking together, you're ready to put your hands in it, or rather your fingers. Just going to clear this.

Rest your pastry 

I'm just going to dust a little bit of plain flour all over the work surface and then just using the tips of your fingers, bring the pastry out, put that over there. You just want to work it a little bit, not too much, because if you overwork your pastry, it'll become tough. So just roll it into a gentle ball, just using the tips of your fingers, try and resist using your palms because that's where you're warm in your hands, is your palms, you don't want to make the pastry warm, else you'll lose your crispness.

Once you've worked it into a ball and all your pastry's come together, just flatten it out into a little disc and then you store it. What you do is you put it in either some cling film or into a freezer bag and you need to put this into the fridge for about an hour at least, so that the glutens can relax and the pastry can rest before you roll it out, because otherwise what's going to happen is once you've put it into your flan tin or quiche tin, the pastry will shrink, which is always really disappointing. The other tip is if you want to freeze your pastry you can and what I sometimes do is I make a double batch of pastry so I use half of it and freeze the other half.

So this is ready for the fridge now and that's how you make short crust pastry.

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