Andrew's short crust recipe

This recipe was given to me by a chef I worked with when we had the kitchen. Making proper pastry didn't come naturally to me, kind people said it was because I had warm hands better suited to breadmaking. Anyway, with the demands of running a cafe kitchen as well as cooking, I never really had the time to learn. This recipe is different to proper pastry, it's made by creaming butter and sugar and not at all temperamental. It can be quite hard which means that it doesn't go soggy as quickly, which means that for tarts they will stay nice enough for a couple of days.

As this recipe freezes really well, I tend to make the larger quantity and freeze tart size portions. From memory it's enough for 4 domestic size tarts. Being untemperamental this mixture can be microvaved to thaw it out. It also makes quite nice biscuits, either plain or with passionfruit icing. But that's another story.

You will need

small quantity
  • 250g butter
  • 250g caster sugar (sometimes I use brown sugar which turns out OK)
  • 350g flour (about 1/4 self raising and the rest plain)
larger quantity
  • 500g butter
  • 500 g caster sugar
  • 500g plain flour
  • 200 g self-raising flour
To make
  • Chop the butter into pieces and soften slightly in the microwave if really hard.
  • Cream butter and sugar with electric beater on high.
  • Add about three quarters of the flour and mix on low speed. (Andrew used to insist on it being mixed by hand, but I don't think it makes a difference if you use a slow speed) Add the rest of the flour until you have a moist but slightly crumbly dough. Most of the time you will need all the flour, but it can vary.
  • Knead just enough for the dough to cohere. If you accidentally add too much flour, add just enough cold water to bring the dough together. It will still be fine.
To make a pie or tart crust
  • Press into tin, making sure that you don't make the corners too thick. Trim.
  • Bake at 180C until crust puffs up a little and maybe starts to colour, depending on how tough, er crisp, you like your crust. Remove from oven and press out the puffy bits with the back of a spoon.
  • Fill with tart filling and bake as per filling recipe.
To make biscuits
  • Roll out quite thinly.
  • Cut biscuit shapes.
  • Bake at 180C until just brown.
  • Ice or not.

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