Basic Shortcrust Pastry
This is the classic method for making short and crumbly shortcrust pastry. It is made with half butter and half lard – the butter for colour and flavour and the lard for shortness. If you have cool hands, the hand method is best as it will incorporate more air than in a food processor. If you have hot hands, the food processor is a blessing! The quantities of water added vary according to the humidity of the flour. Always add less than it says – you can always add more if it is dry, but once it is a sticky mess, it could prove disastrous!
Makes about 400g (enough to line the base of a 23–25-cm loose-based tart pan or make a double crust for a 20–23-cm pie plate)
250g plain flour
A pinch of salt
50g lard (or white cooking fat/shortening), chilled and diced
75g unsalted butter, chilled and diced
2–3 tablespoons ice-cold water
The Classic Way
Sift the flour and salt together into a large mixing bowl. Add the lard and butter and rub in until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add enough of the water to bring the pastry together, and stir in.
Tip onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly to bring the dough together. Shape into a flattened ball, wrap in clingfilm and chill for at least 30 minutes before rolling out and using in the recipe.
The Food Processor Method
Sift the flour and salt together into the bowl of the machine. Add the lard and butter and process for about 30 seconds until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Pour in 2 tablespoons of the water and pulse for 10 seconds. The dough should start to come together in large raggy lumps. If not, add another tablespoon of water and pulse again. As soon as the dough forms one big lump (don’t overprocess or the pastry will be tough), tip out onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly. Shape into a flattened ball, wrap in clingfilm and chill for at least 30 minutes before rolling out and using in the recipe.
TIP To make a vegan variation, simply substitute 125g vegan margarine for the lard and butter in the recipe and follow the method as above.
You can use this delicious shortcrust pasty to make any pie of your choice, including the spookilicious Pumpkin Pie.
Taken from Pies, Glorious Pies by Maxine Clarke (Ryland, Peters & Small, £16.99).
Copyright: Ryland, Peters & Small.