Making pastry needn't be intimidating - it can even be very satisfying. Learn how to make delicious melt in the mouth pastry in seven easy steps. Once you've conquered the skill, use it in any sweet or savoury recipe that calls for shortcrust pastry.
Combine dry ingredients
Weigh out the measurements in the recipe you are using. Combine the flour and salt in a mixing bowl.
Rub in the butter
Rub cold butter or margarine into the flour, turning the bowl and scraping the flour into the centre as you go, until the clumps are the size of small peas. These little bits of fat will form air pockets as the pastry bakes, making it beautifully flaky.
Add the liquid
Sprinkle the dough with a little ice water—one tablespoon at a time. After each tablespoon, mix in the water gently with a fork. Don’t add in too much liquid, you don’t want sticky dough. Start with the minimum amount called for in the recipe you’re using.The mixture might look dry and crumbly after you add the liquid, but don’t add more. Instead, test the dough by picking up a handful and squeezing. If it sticks together, it’s perfect.If it’s still too crumbly, add another half tablespoon of liquid, lightly toss the mixture, and test again.Avoid overworking the dough so you don’t end up with tough pastry.
The pastry needs to rest in a cold fridge so the flour will absorb the liquid, and the pastry will relax and become easier to work with. Transfer the pastry to a re-sealable food bag. Working from the outside of the bag, squeeze the pastry into a flat disc shape.If you’ve made enough pastry for the top and bottom of a pie, divide the dough in half, and put into separate bags, flattening it into discs.Squeeze the air out of each bag, and refrigerate the pastry for one hour.
Roll out the pastry
Remove a disc of pastry from the fridge and place it on a lightly floured work surface.Flatten the disc slightly with your hands, and dust the top lightly with flour.Dust your rolling pin with flour to help keep the pastry from sticking to the rolling pin. Place your rolling pin across the center of the pastry and begin to roll outwards from the middle.Here’s the trick to rolling out pastry in a circle: rotate the pastry a quarter turn after every roll. Continue rolling and rotating the pastry until it’s no thicker than 5mm.To see if your pastry circle is big enough for your pie dish, place the dish upside down on the circle. The pastry should be at least 5cm or two inches wider in diameter than your dish—and more if your dish is very deep.
Transfer to pastry dish
Gently fold the pastry in half. If it’s very pliable, you can fold it into quarters. This makes it easier to transfer.Carefully transfer the folded pastry to the pie dish, and position the point of the folded circle right at the centre of the dish.Unfold the dough, and gently press it into the dish, making sure you press it into the bottom edges.If the pastry cracks or tears—don’t worry—it’s easy to fix. Just wet your fingers with a little water and press the pastry back together.
Trim the edges
Use a knife to trim the pastry that hangs over the outer edge of the dish. Leave about a 2cm overhanging.Crimp the edges if you’re not covering the pie with more pastry.If you’re doing pastry on top, roll out the other half of the pastry so it’s about an 2cm wider in diameter than the pie dish.Transfer it carefully to a baking tray that’s lined with parchment paper.Cover it all with cling film and chill for at least 30 minutes. This prevents the dough from shrinking during baking.Now that you’ve prepared your pastry case, you can continue with your pie, tart or quiche recipe and fill it up and bake it.