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Sweet Shortcrust Pastry

Sweet Shortcrust Pastry is flaky, tender, deliciously tasty, and the perfect way to showcase your favorite pies, tarts, and galettes!

What is Shortcrust Pastry?

Shortcrust pastry is nothing more than a mixture of flour, usually plain flour or all-purpose, and a fat, either butter, lard (shortening), or a mixture of both. These are bound together with either cold water or with egg for a richer pastry.

Why is it called Shortcrust?

“Short,” in a baking context, means that there is a high proportion of fat to flour. This is usually just applied to non-yeast doughs, by the way. Usually, these short doughs are very rich, crumbly, flaky, and tender with butter. They tend to be crisp instead of chewy, and slightly sandy. Shortbread is the quintessential “short” dough – it’s even in the name! This is also why a shortcrust pastry shell is so perfect for pies and tarts. If baked properly, it takes a lot to get it to go “soggy” after sitting for a day or two.

What is the difference between shortcrust pastry and pie crust?

Shortcrust pastry (called pâte brisée in French) does not puff up in the oven because it does not have any leavening agents. Shortcrust pastry falls apart easily when eaten. Shortcrust pastry is made with half the amount of fat as flour (mass wise). Shortcrust pastry is the same thing as pie dough. Shortcrust pastry is the same thing as tart dough. If you can make a great shortcrust pastry, you can make incredible pies and tarts

What kitchen appliances to I need to make Shortcrust Pastry?

The shortcrust pastry can be made either by hand with a pastry blender (cutter), with a food processor, or in a stand mixer. My preferred method is with a stand mixer, but a food processor or pastry cutter will work equally well.

What are the benefits of a Sweet Shortcrust Pastry?

Sweet Shortcrust is incredibly flaky, yet a perfectly solid shell in which to prepare your favorite pies and tarts. Sweet Shortcrust pastry contains an egg and has more sugar than the standard shortcrust pastry (there can be as much sugar as fat in this type of shortcrust pastry). The added sugar impedes the formation of gluten strands so the pastry breaks up easier. Working with sweet shortcrust is much like working with cookie dough. The other huge benefit of using a sweet shortcrust pastry for your pies and tarts is the slight sweetness of the pastry shell. Sweet Shortcrust is so delicious you won’t be tempted to leave the extra crust edges on your plate when you’re finished with the filling since the crumbs and pieces are a treat all by themselves.

Why is it recommended to use cold ingredients for the shortcrust pastry?

A flaky pastry is the result of pieces of butter melting in the oven and leaving pockets of air in the crust. If your butter is not cold when you combine it with the flour then it will partially melt and large chunks of butter will not make it into the oven. Without these chunks of butter, you will not get a flaky crust. To ensure that you do get chunks of butter, I encourage you to keep all your ingredients cold (especially your butter and milk or water) so that the butter does not melt. Keeping your liquid really cold is also important because warm liquid can deter the binding of the butter to the proteins, which is necessary to impede gluten development.

I also suggest that you stick your mixing bowl in the refrigerator for 10 minutes or so before making the dough, so it is also quite cold.

Is Shortcrust Pastry hard to make?

Shortcrust pastry is easy to make and it is one of the most versatile pastries as it can be used for both savory and sweet dishes. For savory dishes, you would make a Salted Shortcrust rather than a Sweet Shortcrust. Making shortcrust pastry does take some time, in order to make it as flaky as possible, but most of the time is taken up either in the refrigerator resting and chilling, or in the oven. Hands-on time to actually make the pastry dough is minimal and takes about 10 minutes or so.

Here’s a quick video showing you how to make this delicious pastry crust, along with some of my tips and tricks:

How do I make Sweet Shortcrust Pastry?

This recipe makes enough pastry dough to line a 9-inch (1¼ inch deep) removable-bottomed tart pan. There will be leftover pastry for small decorations, however, if you are making a lattice pie or a fully covered pie, remember to make a double batch. The amount you need depends on how intricate you plan to be with your piecrust designs. Any leftover pastry dough can be wrapped in plastic wrap and kept in the refrigerator for 3 days.

To get the best possible results when making and baking your pastry, it is always best to allow yourself plenty of time. The dough will be noticeably better if given a sufficient amount of time to chill and rest in the refrigerator in between the making, rolling, and baking stages.

There are quite a few stages involved in blind-baking a pastry shell, but I encourage you not to rush through or skip any of them, otherwise, the quality of your finished pastry and pastry shell will suffer. It may initially seem like a lot of work just for a pastry shell, but believe me when I say it’s worth it.

This method works well for both sweet and savory shortcrust, as well as vegan and gluten-free pastries.

You will begin by placing the flour and very cold butter into the chilled bowl of the stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, and gently blend it until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. It’s okay to have some larger pea-sized pieces in there as well. This will make the finished crust that much flakier.

Sweet Shortcrust Pastry
Sweet Shortcrust Pastry

The powdered sugar and any optional flavorings are added next and given a very brief blend with the mixer.

Next, you will add the egg yolk and cold milk (or water, if that is the liquid you are using) and mix just enough so the dough begins to come together. Remember that overworking the dough will result in a tough pastry, so you only want to mix for 30-60 seconds.

As soon as the dough starts to come together, turn OFF your mixer, turn the dough out onto a work surface and bring it together with your hands to form a ball. If your hands are warm, run them under some cold water first and then dry them thoroughly before beginning to pull the dough together. Warm hands = soft and melted butter inside the dough.

Sweet Shortcrust Pastry
Sweet Shortcrust Pastry

Flatten the dough into a disc, wrap it in plastic wrap, and place it in the refrigerator for at least an hour. (NOTE: If you are making a salted crust, you will skip this step since working salted shortcrust while it is chilled will result in it cracking as you roll and shape it.)

Once the dough has chilled, take it out of the refrigerator, place the dough between two sheets of parchment paper and roll it to the desired thickness. Carefully transfer the rolled dough to your pie or tart pan (if using one) and place back into the refrigerator to chill for at least 30 minutes.

Sweet Shortcrust Pastry
Sweet Shortcrust Pastry

If you are using the dough for a galette, you will layer your fillings onto the center of the dough at this point, fold up the edges, give them an egg wash, and put the uncooked galette into the refrigerator to chill before baking.

Some pie and tart recipes call for an uncooked pastry shell, and others have you blind-bake it beforehand. If you are blind-baking the pastry shell, you will line the inside of your pastry shell with parchment paper, fill it to the rim with baking beans, and bake the pastry for about 20 minutes.

Sweet Shortcrust Pastry Galette
Sweet Shortcrust Pastry

After 20 minutes, remove the baking beans and parchment paper, prick the bottom of the pastry shell with a fork, and bake for an additional 5 minutes.

The final step for blind-baking involves brushing the entire interior (bottom and sides) with an egg wash and baking the semi-baked pastry shell for a final 15-20 minutes until it is golden brown and ready for filling with your favorite fillings.

Sweet Shortcrust Pastry
Sweet Shortcrust Pastry

Servings:

1 pie/tart/galette crust recipe

Prep Time:

10-20 minutes

Cook Time:

35 minutes

Difficulty:

Easy

Introduction

About this Recipe

By: Tess

Sweet Shortcrust Pastry is flaky, tender, deliciously tasty, and the perfect way to showcase your favorite pies, tarts, and galettes!

Sweet Shortcrust Pastry

Ingredients

  • 1 ¾ cups (230g/8 oz.) all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup + 1 tablespoon (125g/4½ oz./1 ⅛ sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and diced
  • Generous ⅓ cup (50g/1 ¾ oz.) confectioners’ (powdered) sugar
  • Zest of ½ lemon, zest of ¼ orange or 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (all optional)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoon milk

Egg Wash

  • 1 egg yolk

Notes and Tips

This recipe makes enough pastry dough to line a 9-inch (1¼ inch deep) removable-bottomed tart pan. There will be leftover pastry for small decorations, however, if you are making a lattice pie or a fully covered pie, remember to make a double batch. The amount you need depends on how intricate you plan to be with your piecrust designs. Any leftover pastry dough can be wrapped in plastic wrap and kept in the refrigerator for 3 days.

To get the best possible results when making and baking your pastry, it is always best to allow yourself plenty of time. The dough will be noticeably better if given a sufficient amount of time to chill and rest in the refrigerator in between the making, rolling and baking stages.

Sweet Shortcrust Pastry
Sweet Shortcrust Pastry

Step by Step Instructions

Step 1

Place the flour and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and gently beat until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.

Step 2

Add the powdered sugar and any flavorings, if using, and mix together.

Step 3

Add the egg yolk and the milk and mix until the dough only just comes together (over-working the dough will result in a tough pastry). This should only take 30-60 seconds. As soon as the dough starts to come together, stop the mixer, turn the dough out onto a work surface and bring the pastry together with your hands to form a ball. Do not over handle as your warm hands will soften and melt the butter within the dough.

Step 4

Push the dough down, flattening it out to about ½ inch in thickness, trying your best to keep it in a circular shape. This will make the final rolling process after the dough has been chilled much easier. Wrap the dough disc in plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour (preferably longer) to chill and rest.

Step 5

Take the chilled dough out of the refrigerator, unwrap it, and place it between two sheets of non-stick baking (parchment) paper on your work area. The baking (parchment paper) will prevent having to add extra flour to keep the dough from sticking to surfaces as it is rolled out. Having to add extra flour at this stage can significantly change the dough in negative ways.

Step 6

Roll the pastry dough out until it is between ⅛ to ¼ inch in thickness. Once rolled out to the desired size and thickness, peel back one sheet of the baking paper, invert the pastry over the pie/tart pan, and then carefully peel back the second piece of baking paper.

Step 7

To create a neat pastry shell, it is important to line the pan properly, easing the pastry into every corner, fold, and fluted edge of the pan. When the dough is in place, wrap a small piece of pastry in plastic wrap and use this to gently mold the pastry into place. To prevent shrinkage, leave an overhanging edge of ¾ inches around the top of the pan. Trim off the excess with kitchen shears or a knife.

Step 8

The pastry must be chilled and rested before baking. Place the pan on a baking sheet and put it into the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Step 9

To blind-bake the pastry shell, preheat your oven to 350°F. Place the pie/tart pan on a baking sheet. Scrunch up a piece of parchment (baking) paper a little larger than the pan being used then unfold it and place it on top of the pastry.

Step 10

Fill the pastry shell with baking beans, dried rice or lentils (or a mixture of all three). Fill the pan all the way to the top. This will prevent the pastry from coming away from the sides during baking and the extra weight will stop the base of the pastry from lifting. Bake the pastry shell in the oven for 20 minutes, then take it out of the oven and remove the beans and parchment paper.

Step 11

The base of the pastry shell may still look a little raw towards the center. This is normal. Gently prick the base with a fork and return the pastry shell to the oven to bake for an additional 5 minutes, or until all of the rawness has baked, but the color is still relatively pale. It is important to check the shell for any holes or slight cracks. If any are visible, use the leftover pastry to fill these in carefully.

Step 12

Make an egg wash by mixing an egg yolk with 1 teaspoon of hot water, and use this to glaze the pastry case with a pastry brush, making sure to brush both the pastry base and the sides as well. You may not need all of the egg wash.

Step 13

Return the pastry shell to the oven and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes, or until the pastry shell is deep golden, crisp and cooked throughout. Don’t be alarmed if the overhanging edge seems burnt. This will be shaved off and discarded.

Step 14

Remove the pastry shell from the oven and allow it to cool completely in the pan.

Step 15

Use a vegetable peeler to trim away the overhanging edge of the pastry shell, gently shaving the pastry until the top of the pan has been reached and the edge is smooth. Brush away any crumbs that have fallen inside the pastry shell. The shell is now ready to be filled and served, or filled and re-baked depending on the recipe instructions.

Additional Comments:

The baked pastry shell can be kept in an airtight container for up to 3 days if it is not needed right away.

In place of the stand mixer, you can also blend the flour and butter together using a food processor. The key is to use something that will not cause the butter to melt into the flour, but instead will finely chop the butter as it is blended with the flour into a breadcrumb like consistency. If you don’t have a stand mixer or food processor, a traditional pastry cutter will work just fine.

EQUIPMENT NEEDED:
9-inch pie or tart pan
Stand mixer, food processor, or pastry cutter
Parchment (non-stick baking) paper
Baking beans
Pastry Brush

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Sweet Shortcrust Pastry

Sweet Shortcrust Pastry Recipe Card


  • Author: Tess
  • Prep Time: 10-20 min.
  • Cook Time: 35 min.
  • Total Time: 2 hrs.
  • Yield: 1 pie/tart crust 1x

Description

Sweet Shortcrust is incredibly flaky, yet a perfectly solid shell in which to prepare your favorite pies and tarts. Sweet Shortcrust pastry contains an egg and has more sugar than the standard shortcrust pastry (there can be as much sugar as fat in this type of shortcrust pastry).

The added sugar impedes the formation of gluten strands so the pastry breaks up easier. Working with sweet shortcrust is much like working with cookie dough.

The other huge benefit of using a sweet shortcrust pastry for your pies and tarts is the slight sweetness of the pastry shell. Sweet Shortcrust is so delicious you won’t be tempted to leave the extra crust edges on your plate when you’re finished with the filling since the crumbs and pieces are a treat all by themselves.


Scale

Ingredients

1¾ cups (230g/8 oz.) all-purpose flour
½ cup + 1 tablespoon (125g/4½ oz./1⅛ sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and diced
Generous ⅓ cup (50g/1¾ oz.) confectioners’ (powdered) sugar
Zest of ½ lemon, zest of ¼ orange or 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (all optional)
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoon milk

Egg Wash:
1 egg yolk


Instructions

1. Place the flour and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and gently beat until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.

2. Add the powdered sugar and any flavorings, if using, and mix together.

3. Add the egg yolk and the milk and mix until the dough only just comes together (over-working the dough will result in a tough pastry). This should only take 30-60 seconds. As soon as the dough starts to come together, stop the mixer, turn the dough out onto a work surface and bring the pastry together with your hands to form a ball. Do not over handle as your warm hands will soften and melt the butter within the dough.

4. Push the dough down, flattening it out to about ½ inch in thickness, trying your best to keep it in a circular shape. This will make the final rolling process after the dough has been chilled much easier. Wrap the dough disc in plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour (preferably longer) to chill and rest.

5. Take the chilled dough out of the refrigerator, unwrap it, and place it between two sheets of non-stick baking (parchment) paper on your work area. The baking (parchment paper) will prevent having to add extra flour to keep the dough from sticking to surfaces as it is rolled out. Having to add extra flour at this stage can significantly change the dough in negative ways.

6. Roll the pastry dough out until it is between ⅛ to ¼ inch in thickness. Once rolled out to the desired size and thickness, peel back one sheet of the baking paper, invert the pastry over the pie/tart pan, and then carefully peel back the second piece of baking paper.

7. To create a neat pastry shell, it is important to line the pan properly, easing the pastry into every corner, fold, and fluted edge of the pan. When the dough is in place, wrap a small piece of pastry in plastic wrap and use this to gently mold the pastry into place. To prevent shrinkage, leave an overhanging edge of ¾ inches around the top of the pan. Trim off the excess with kitchen shears or a knife.

8. The pastry must be chilled and rested before baking. Place the pan on a baking sheet and put it into the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

9. To blind-bake the pastry shell, preheat your oven to 350°F. Place the pie/tart pan on a baking sheet. Scrunch up a piece of parchment (baking) paper a little larger than the pan being used then unfold it and place it on top of the pastry.

10. Fill the pastry shell with baking beans, dried rice or lentils (or a mixture of all three). Fill the pan all the way to the top. This will prevent the pastry from coming away from the sides during baking and the extra weight will stop the base of the pastry from lifting. Bake the pastry shell in the oven for 20 minutes, then take it out of the oven and remove the beans and parchment paper.

11. The base of the pastry shell may still look a little raw towards the center. This is normal. Gently prick the base with a fork and return the pastry shell to the oven to bake for an additional 5 minutes, or until all of the rawness has baked, but the color is still relatively pale. It is important to check the shell for any holes or slight cracks. If any are visible, use the leftover pastry to fill these in carefully.

12. Make an egg wash by mixing an egg yolk with 1 teaspoon of hot water, and use this to glaze the pastry case with a pastry brush, making sure to brush both the pastry base and the sides as well. You may not need all of the egg wash.

13. Return the pastry shell to the oven and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes, or until the pastry shell is deep golden, crisp and cooked throughout. Don’t be alarmed if the overhanging edge seems burnt. This will be shaved off and discarded.

14. Remove the pastry shell from the oven and allow it to cool completely in the pan.

15. Use a vegetable peeler to trim away the overhanging edge of the pastry shell, gently shaving the pastry until the top of the pan has been reached and the edge is smooth. Brush away any crumbs that have fallen inside the pastry shell. The shell is now ready to be filled and served, or filled and re-baked depending on the recipe instructions.

Notes

The baked pastry shell can be kept in an airtight container for up to 3 days if it is not needed right away.

In place of the stand mixer, you can also blend the flour and butter together using a food processor. The key is to use something that will not cause the butter to melt into the flour, but instead will finely chop the butter as it is blended with the flour into a breadcrumb-like consistency. If you don’t have a stand mixer or food processor, a traditional pastry cutter will work just fine.

EQUIPMENT NEEDED:
9-inch pie or tart pan
Stand mixer, food processor, or pastry cutter
Parchment (non-stick baking) paper
Baking beans
Pastry Brush

  • Method: Baking

Keywords: shortcrust, pastry, pies, tarts, galettes

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