This classic shortcrust recipe makes enough pastry to line a 28-cm fluted tin or 8 individual tartlet tins.
Lynn Lewis and Joachim Wahnschaffe
250 g (2 cups) plain flour
Pinch of salt
2–4 tablespoons caster sugar or icing sugar
125 g (½ cup) butter, chilled and diced
1 egg or 2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2–3 tablespoons chilled white wine or cold water
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Directions Preparation:45min › Cook:35min › Extra time:30min › Ready in:1hour50min
To make the pastry, place the flour, salt, sugar, butter, egg or egg yolks and lemon zest in a mixing bowl. Add the wine or water.
Using the dough hooks of an electric mixer, blend 1 minute, first on a low setting, then on high, to make a fine, crumbly mass. (Alternatively, rub the chilled butter in with your fingertips until mixture is crumbly.) Turn the pastry out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead lightly, about 2 or 3 turns.
Shape the dough into a round or divide it into 8 small balls. Flatten the dough a little, cover with cling film and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or, preferably, overnight.
Roll out the dough on a lightly floured work surface to about 5 mm thick. Lift the dough from the work surface with a palette knife and line the tin or tartlet tins.
Prick pastry several times with a fork. Chill the cases for 30 minutes; this prevents the pastry from shrinking in the oven.
Preheat the oven to 180°C. If you want the edge to be high at the sides of the tin and the base to remain flat, "blind bake" the cases by lining them with aluminium foil or baking paper and filling them with dried beans or uncooked rice.
Bake flat pastry cases for 7–15 minutes on the middle oven rack, removing the beans and baking paper after about 10 minutes. For taller pastries or one large tart pastry, use the second-lowest rack and bake for 35–40 minutes, removing the beans and baking paper after about 30 minutes. Return the cases to the oven until the bases are golden brown. Cool the tartlet cases in their tins on a wire rack.
• Cool your hands under running water and then dry them before kneading the pastry. Press mixture together quickly to avoid melting the butter.
• Make a filling such as that used for the Mixed Berry Flan. Spread filling into tart cases; fill with fruit of your choice.
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SALTY SHORTCRUST PASTRY
• Knead 300 g (2½ cups) plain flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 185 g (¾ cup) butter, 1 egg and 4–5 tablespoons cold water with 4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese or 1 teaspoon mixed dried herbs and a pinch each of paprika and pepper.
NUTTY SHORTCRUST PASTRY
• Toast 100 g (¾ cup) hazelnuts in a dry pan. Allow to cool; rub off the thin skins and grind the nuts finely with the caster sugar or icing sugar. • Replace 90 g (¾ cup) flour with the ground nuts and add 2–3 tablespoons nut liqueur to pastry instead of the wine or water.