Shortcrust Pastry is the basis for all good sweet and savoury pies.
I invested in a food processor which makes this task much easier to undertake. Shortcrust pastry can be made successfully without a food processor by rubbing the butter into the flour however, if you are a serious cook like me, I recommend investing in a few key electrical items to help save you time in the kitchen. A thorough list of recommended kitchen equipment can be found in my cookbook, The Economics of Eating. Shortcrust pastry is a master recipe that opens up new possibilities in the kitchen and also lends itself to stretching your grocery dollar further. If you are down to only flour, butter and eggs in your fridge and pantry, you can still make a pie or a quiche out of whatever ingredients you have available.
1 ½ cups plain flour
125g butter: chilled, cubed
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons chilled water
Put flour and butter into food processor. Process until mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add egg and water. Process until mixture comes together in a ball.
(Alternatively – if you don’t have a food processor, the pastry can be made by hand. Rub butter into flour until mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Whisk egg and chilled water together and add to flour mixture. Knead together until it forms a ball.)
Turn pastry out onto a lightly floured surface.
Knead until smooth. Press to flatten slightly.
Wrap in greaseproof paper and chill for about
15 minutes or until dough is just firm.
Roll out pastry between 2 sheets of baking paper. Dust lightly with plain flour. Roll out to approximately 5cm larger than pan base, and approximately 4-5mm in thickness. Remove top sheet of paper. Flip pastry and remove bottom sheet.
Gently wrap pastry around a rolling pin and unroll over the top of flan tin or pie dish. Press pastry carefully into sides and base of dish.
Trim excess pastry so it sits about 1 cm above sides of tin as pastry will shrink when it is baked. Prick pastry base with a fork.
Cut a large circle of baking paper (large enough to cover base of pastry) scrunch and fit inside tin. Half fill with dried pulses or uncooked rice (blind baking). Blind bake for 15 minutes at 200°C.
Remove paper and pulses. Reduce heat to 180°C. Bake pastry for a further 15 minutes until just golden.
For a sweet pastry (for use in apple and fruit pies) add 2 tablespoons caster sugar.
Note: I have not had any success with gluten-free variations on this recipe. Specialty gluten free, ready-made pastries and mixes are available at selected outlets. I have not yet tried them all to be able to recommend the best options.
I use the same blind baking beans a few times over. Let them cool completely after use and store in a labelled and air tight jar or container at the back of the pantry. If they are not cooled completely, they will sweat and go mouldy in storage. Do not use beans for any other cooking purposes and dispose of after a few uses.
Life for us has been all about survival on a shoestring budget. I cook from scratch and don't buy prepackaged mixes of anything. I've learnt how to live on very basic (and cheap) staples. I've raised happy and healthy kids and I believe that good food is central to a good life!
The Economics of Eating App is now available for purchase!
I have an unpublished cookbook manuscript that lives on my kitchen bench. This is the collection that I have fed my family from for many years, all made from a core list of practical and economical ingredients. The manuscript is splattered with butter, flour and milk from daily use. It moves between the kitchen and the office as I edit and test-kitchen the recipes.