Shortcrust Pastry Liners
These can be sweet or slightly salty for desserts and savoury pies respectively. These were one of the first things I learned to make when I was a kid, just 10 years old.
|Savoury Lining||4||1||2||0||Pinch of salt|
|Sweet||3||Part of liquid||2||1||Vanilla essence, pinch of salt, citrus grind|
Method: Rub-in or Creaming. Main idea: Reduce gluten formation. If using sugar, it must be incorporated as much and as quickly as possible.
Making shortcrust pastries used to take hours for me. I used to cut the butter in 1 cm-cubes, freeze them in the freezer for hours, and then put them into the mixing bowl with the flours. I would then sit in front of the tele and do the rub in with my fingers. It took half an hour at least, because I was very meticulous. I ensure only my fingers touched the flour as I wanted only very short crust that melt in the mouth.
But these days, I am a lot lazier, and I found better ways to do this. I make short crust pastries these days in just 1 minute, thanks to technology.
The Science behind it
The science of the short crust pastry is really quite logical. You first coat the flour with the fat (I normally use butter). This way, you stop the gluten from forming, and therefore the pastry stays ‘short’. You rub with your fingers and not palm to keep the dough cold, and that’s also why I used to freeze my butters first.
To get the best dough, minimal handling is always recommended. At least that was what I was taught in the baking schools.
Once the coating is done, you will see that the flour looks like breadcrumbs. If there’s enough fat used, there’s no need to add additional liquid to bind it into a dough. Otherwise, some people add eggs, some add egg yolks. I usually just add the whole egg, because I don’t want to worry about the whites later. Of course, for the perfectionists, egg yolks make a shorter crust.
In view of this, always use flour with less than 11%of protein, plain flour is the simplest, but cake or biscuit flours give the best results.
Now, if you understand the science of it, the blender becomes the best equipment to make a shortcrust pastry. I use a thermomix simply because I have it at hand all the time, any other blenders should work similarly. I throw the whole block of butter from the fridge in there with the flours and salt. Turn it to #3 (medium speed) for 10 seconds, and then add the egg, and another 10-15 seconds on #3. Done. I normally need not freeze or cool the dough before using.
There you have it. The short crust pastry. Note that in a sweet dough, the sugar makes the dough wetter, add a little more flour if needed. Then I’d add vanilla essence and a lemon or orange grind. Always so yummy and easy.