Shortcrust Pastry

Once you have mastered the very easy skill of making Shortcrust Pastry, you are only one step away from a delicious supper:
Pastry: See Classic Shortcrust Pastry Method, to line an 8” Pie Tin/Plate.180g organic plain flour80g chilled unsalted butter, diced
Iced Water (3-4 Tablespoons)
Sea Salt
Sieve the flour into a large mixing bowl. Add a pinch of sea salt. Stir through, with a knife, the diced butter. This helps to protect the butter from the heat of your fingertips and starts off the ‘rubbing in’ process.
Once coated, rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips until it resembles sort of porridge oats but you may have pea size pieces of butter left. Not to worry.
Add a couple of tablespoons of the iced water and work it quickly into the flour and butter mixture. Add more water if the mixture feels very dry and won’t pick up the little crumby bits of flour at the bottom of the bowl.
Once the mixture has cohered, smack it lightly into a ball shape, wrap in cling-film and place in the fridge for at the absolute minimum half an hour but longer is much better, even overnight.
You can use an all lard mixture instead of butter, or a combination of the two. Lard based pastry is curiously much easier to work with than butter although some people feel that the pastry tastes greasy when cold. I have not encountered this myself.
Instead of adding water, you could add some double cream or beaten egg yolks to enrich to pastry. This does make the pastry quite tricky to work with though so make sure it’s well chilled before attempting to roll out and expect to have to do some patchwork. Once the tart is filled, you can’t notice any odd spots anyway (providing of course that any holes have been sealed up).
To cook, preheat your oven to 180c.
Roll out the pastry, dousing your rolling pin, work surface and hands with flour, until it is about 4mm thick and looks like it will line the bottom and sides of your tart tin. Carefully wind the pastry around your rolling pin and lay gently over the tart in, pressing it into the sides with your fingertips so that there are no trapped air bubbles.
Place a piece of tin foil or baking paper over the top of the raw pastry case and pour in enough baking beans (or I use dried black beans because that was all I had in the cupboard at the time – I now reuse them, storing them in an old jam jar when not in use) to cover the bottom of the tart.
Place in the oven for 15 minutes. This is called baking blind (and doesn’t in fact refer to the steaming up of your glasses when you open the door of a hot oven). After 15 minutes, remove the foil and the beans, press down any puffy parts of the case, gently with a fork, taking great care not to puncture the pastry. Return to the oven to dry out for another 5 minutes.
After this time, the case will now be prepped and ready for your filling.

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