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.
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
1 egg yolk
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.
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.
9-inch pie or tart pan
Stand mixer, food processor, or pastry cutter
Parchment (non-stick baking) paper
- Method: Baking
Keywords: shortcrust, pastry, pies, tarts, galettes