When it comes to baking, a pie is only as good as its crust. What you don’t want is any pastry that ends up tough, dry, soggy, chewy, or dense. The best pastry is light, fluffy and crisp. When it comes to pastry for pies, I prefer to use a perfect shortcrust pastry.
Why use a Shortcrust Pastry Recipe
My Grandma had an amazing recipe for a perfectly flaky pie crust recipe. It is definitely an amazing crust and everyone who has tasted it praises it for its amazing flakiness. It is actually my favorite when it comes to TASTE.
The only downside is that my grandmother’s flaky pie crust is a little more temperamental to work with. It is a little sticky and easily falls apart. When I use her recipe, I often end up having to do a lot of patchwork after transferring the crust to the pie tin.
After watching season after season of the Great British Bake Off, I was introduced to traditional shortcrust pastry and I just had to try this new pastry crust! And let me tell you, this is the perfect shortcrust pastry recipe for pies, tarts, and hand pies! Easy to work with and still has a great light and flaky texture.
While I don’t think it tastes as great as my Grandma’s flaky crust pastry, it is a very close 2nd.
How to make a Perfect Shortcrust Pastry
Just like our Irish Soda Bread, I again use a kitchen scale to weigh out all ingredients. Using the European method of weighing ingredients in grams and ml means that the measurements are much more precise and the result is so much better!
I’m not saying American recipes with cups is bad or wrong. I mean, I’ve used this method for over 30 years! And it works alright. But I found I have far more success with baking recipes and a perfect flaky shortcrust pie recipe when I use a kitchen scale for measuring ingredients.
You shouldn’t need any special tools to measure liquids. Most liquid measuring cups have ml measurements on one side of the measuring cup.
Many times with shortcrust pastry recipes, you can get away with using a food processor to mix the crust. But the downside to using a food processor is that it is very easy to overwork the dough, which leaves you with a dense and chewy crust.
The best way to make shortcrust pastry is with your hands. You will be able to feel when the pastry dough is just right. And you are better able to prevent overworking the dough.
- Shortcrust Pastry Dough
- 250 grams all-purpose flour (approximately 2 cups)
- Pinch of salt
- 125 grams chilled butter, cubed (approximately 1/2 cup)
- 2 medium egg yolks
- about 50ml ice cold water (approximately 3 Tablespoons)
- 1 egg
- dash of milk
Shortcrust Pastry Dough
- Measure out the flour into a mixing bowl with a kitchen food scale.
- Add the salt
- Gently sift flour and salt together
- Add the egg yolks and gently mix with your hands
- Slowly add the water bit by bit as you work the dough with your hands.
- You may not need all the water, so ensure you only add a little bit at a time, work it into the dough and if you still need more, add a little more, until your shortcrust pastry dough is the right consistency.
- Mix the dough until you have a soft pastry dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
- Gently tip the pastry onto a lightly floured surface.
- Form the dough into a ball with your hands
- Take care to not overwork the dough.
- Gently flatten the pastry into a disc and wrap in saran wrap or press n' seal.
- Chill the dough in the fridge for about 3 hours.
Baking Shortcrust pastry
- Preheat the oven to 392 degrees.
- Roll out your shortcrust pastry to the same size as your pie tin on a lightly floured surface.
- Allow a little extra crust to hand over the rim of the pie tin.
- Gently lift the pastry and line the pie tin.
- Press firmly into the corners and sides.
- Prick the base of the pastry crust all over with a fork
- Line the crust with parchment paper and fill with a layer of baking weights or baking beans.
- Blind bake pie crust for 10-12 minutes
- Remove pie crust from oven and gently remove the baking beans/beads and parchment paper
- Gently brush crust with beaten egg wash
- Return to oven for another 5-8 minutes to dry out the crust and seal it.
- Remove from the oven and trim the pie crust sides.
- Set aside shortcrust pie shell to cool while you prepare your filling.
- If you want a sweet shortcrust pastry you can also add 55 g sugar to the flour mixture before adding in the eggs and water.
- This shortcrust pastry dough can be frozen to be used later.
- If frozen allow to warm to fridge temperature before handling, overnight or at least 7 hours.
- Originally this recipe is best baked at 200 degrees C. When converted to F it isn't a perfect conversion. Turns out to be about 392 degrees F. You can bake this at exactly that temperature or bump it up to 400 degrees F.
You will begin by weighing out the flour into a mixing bowl. Add a pinch of salt.
If you want to make the shortcrust pastry sweet, you can also add 55 g sugar to the flour mixture.
Add in the cubed chilled butter. Work with your fingertips until the mixture begins to look like breadcrumbs.
Add in the 2 egg yolks and gently begin to work the dough with your fingers again.
Slowly add in the water a little bit at a time. Continue to work the dough with your fingers until a soft dough forms and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
Be careful not to overwork the dough or the pie crust will turn out tough and dense.
Once the dough is formed, gently tip it onto a lightly floured surface and form into a ball with your hands.
Gently press down into a round disk shape.
Wrap the dough into saran wrap. I personally prefer to use Press n’ Seal as it’s much easier to work with.
Chill the dough in the fridge for 3 hours.
Baking the perfect Shortcrust Pastry
As always you want to preheat your oven to approximately 400 degrees. If you have an oven that uses Celsius, you will want to cook at 200 C. The exact conversion is 392 F, but not all ovens will let you bake at that temperature, so 400 F is the closest for most ovens.
When you roll the dough out, you can use the standard rolling pins with the handles. That seems pretty typical for American kitchens. I even have the most beautiful Marble rolling pin that my Mom gave me when I got married.
Now while I absolutely love this marble rolling pin, I found I prefer to use a professional french rolling pin without handles. This lets me roll out the dough faster without indentions from the edges where the marble rolling pin stops and the handles begin.
Oh, I will always keep and cherish my marble rolling pin from my mom. But when I need to do a bit of professional baking, I will continue to use my french rolling pin.
You will want to roll out your shortcrust pastry to slightly larger than your pie tin to allow a little extra crust to hang over the rim of the pie tin.
Very carefully lift the pastry off your surface. Many like to fold the crust dough over the rolling pin to make this easier to transfer without breaking.
Gently adjust the pie crust to where it fits in the pie tin. Press firmly into the corners and sides.
Prick the base of the pastry crust all over with a fork.
Depending on the type of pie you are making the next steps vary. If you are doing a regular two crust pie, you can now fill the pie and add your top crust and bake for the prescribed time.
If you are going to fill the pie with a custard filling you will want to blind bake the crust. To do this, line the crust with parchment paper and fill with a layer of baking weights or baking beans. This helps prevent the crust from shrinking away from the pie tin, or puffing out bubbles where you don’t want them.
Blind bake the pie crust for 10-12 minutes.
Then remove the pie crust from the oven and carefully remove the baking beans/beads and parchment paper. Gently brush the entire pie crust with beaten egg wash.
Return the shortcrust pie crust to the oven for another 5-8 minutes to dry out the crust and seal it.
Remove it from the oven and trim the pie crust sides with a very sharp knife.
Set the shortcrust pie shell to cool while you prepare your filling.
You will want the shortcrust to be completely cool before you add your filling otherwise the filling may not set correctly. My family’s favorite filling is this Chocolate Coconut Cream pie recipe.
You can also use this Shortcrust recipe when making these Mouthwatering Mini Salted Caramel Apple Pies.
You can also fill this pie crust with this amazing Peach Pie Filling.
The possibilities are endless! And this shortcrust recipe isn’t just for sweet desserts! You can use it for savoury recipes too like meat pies, chicken pot pies, and oh so much more!
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