Tuesday, 3 January 2012

:: Shortcrust Heaven ::

Never Fail Sweet Shortcrust Pastry
:: Megann’s Kitchen ::

:: preparing to blind bake the never fail sweet shortcrust pastry ::

This recipe is the ultimate Sweet Shortcrust Pastry for tarts. It holds its form perfectly & the shrinkage is minimal. Why? I think adding the egg yolks are the secret. I find that it is also a little more forgiving than others. Just when I think I have completely ruined my pastry attempt by adding too much water, over handling the mixture or even over baking it turns itself around & I end up looking at a successful tart in wonderment.

Another key element in pastry is to have quick hands. Make sure that your mind doesn’t wonder off whilst using the food processor or over kneading it on the bench top. The less handling the better where pastry is concerned! Remember that & you will have brilliant pastry every time.
I first found this recipe in a Delicious Magazine from one of their regional Cafe adventures. I love the fact that it isn’t from a celebrity chef/cook, but someone more like me who, in another lifetime, would run a rustic & homely cafe in the beautiful Alpine wine region in North East Victoria. Yes, my own cafe truly would be an adventure!

250g plain flour
100g chilled unsalted butter, chopped
100g caster sugar
2 egg yolks
A pinch of salt
2-3 Tbs chilled water

Place the flour, butter, sugar & salt in a food processor. I use my ever so trusty KitchenAid. Pulse in the food processor until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the two egg yolks & whilst blending, add 2-3 Tbs of chilled water until the mixture comes together. When the mixture just combines into a ball (see picture), stop the processor & form a disc in your hands. Wrap in cling wrap & chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour

:: adding the egg to the flour mixture ::

Preheat oven to180°C (350°F). On a lightly floured surface with cling wrap below, roll the pastry until it is 3-5mm thick. With the cling wrap still attached to the pastry, carefully lift & line a greased 28 cm loose-bottomed tart pan with pastry, then trim with the heal of your hand. Chill for 10 minutes in the freezer or 20 minutes in the fridge. Remove the cling wrap, prick the pastry with a fork then line with parchment paper & fill with pastry weights. Bake blind at 180°C (350°F) for 10 minutes. Remove pastry weights & parchment paper then bake for another 5 minutes, until just cooked through. Reset your oven to your desired temperature for recipe filling. 

:: resembling fine breadcrumbs ::
:: process til pastry forms a ball ::

:: cover in cling wrap & chill ::
:: I use biscuit & pastry flour ::

Kitchen Notes
:: As it is a loose bottom tin, I like to place it on a tray to remove & place back in the oven with ease. This way there is no chance of you accidently breaking the crust of your pastry!
:: Don’t skip the resting/chilling process! It is essential to stop the shrinkage of your pastry.
:: I always roll my pastry onto a large piece of cling wrap. This helps a great deal when transferring to your desired baking tin.
:: In lieu of pastry weights, you can use uncooked rice, dried beans or even small, clean polished pebbles.
:: I have also made this pastry a day in advance, simply keeping it chilled in the refrigerator as a rolled ball, wrapped in cling wrap.
:: Remember, quick hands! Especially in a warm room- you don’t want the butter to melt.
:: Keep the remainder of the pastry for biscuits or styling accents to your tart/pie.

:: while cling wrap is on, remove pastry with hand then chill ::

:: prick the pastry evenly with a fork ::

Quick Kitchen
:: Short of time & can’t make your own pastry? I keep a couple boxes of Carême Pastry in my freezer for such occasions & your guests will be none the wiser. Carême Vanilla Bean Sweet Shortcrust Pastry (located in specialty food stores, such as Essential Ingredient) is incredible & their All Butter Puff Pastry is second to none.
:: I recommend Pampas Sweet Shortcrust Pastry (located in Supermarkets), however don’t be fooled into the low fat option. It turns out quite tough & biscuit like instead of the wonderfully short texture that you are aiming for. Full butter please!

:: a perfectly blonde pastry ready for desired filling ::

I would also love to see your Megann's Kitchen Creations/photos of recipes that you have made on Megann’s Kitchen Facebook

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