Shortcrust Pastry: Facing Kitchen Fears

Shortcrust pastry and an apple tart to boot! Here’s me facing one of my kitchen fears; shortcrust pastry! And a recipe from which you can learn, too!

I am not sure what it is about shortcrust pastry that had me petrified. In full disclosure, I have made this before in my teens. I’ve even ventured the dark labyrinths of cinnamon rolls, something I haven’t touched since making it twice with cinnamon rolls as hard as rocks. 

Rub a dub dub

Rubbing ‘fat’ into flour is a crucial aspect of making most types of pastry, including some cake recipes. Here, you use your fingertips to ‘rub’ the butter into the flour by pressing it firmly against one another. This introduces the butter to the flour directly, and helps to give the pastry its signature flaky yet buttery texture. In most cases, the rubbing method requires half the amount of fat to flour. 

The fingertips’ cool temperature will help to keep the butter from melting, which is essential for making pastry. If you’re not confident about using your hands for this, you can always use a food processor. Simply place the flour into the food processor, then drop in the cubes of unsalted butter. Pulse until you have the desired texture, which is lumpy breadcrumbs. Then, proceed as per instructed. 

Apple tart shortcrust pastry

Breakage

This is the part about pastry making that scared me the most; that it would break. When making this tart, that’s exactly what happened. However, I learnt that this is not the end of the world. Roll the pastry out gently on a floured surface, before transferring this to your waiting tin. However, don’t fret if the pastry falls apart; simply patch it back together! This is a rather malleable pastry, so it patches back extremely well. Perfect for beginners as well, since this pastry does not need to be baked blind.

Fruits

I have used tart green apples here, which tend to dry out in the oven. However, I love the flavour of cooked apple against the rich and soft cake like filling. A fair warning though, the apples tend to dry out in the oven, as they are on the top layer. You can prevent this by cooking the apples in a light sugar syrup before placing them on the pastry filling. However, I don’t mind the apples slightly dry, since they get drenched with chocolate sauce anyway. 

Now, take a deeeeeeeepp breath. You got this. 

Shortcrust pastry almond apple tart

Shortcrust Pastry: Facing Kitchen Fears

Recipe by Krishy MalCourse: DessertCuisine: WesternDifficulty: Medium
Makes an

8

Inch Tart
Prep time

30

minutes
Cooking time

20

minutes

Shortcrust pastry and an apple tart to boot! Here’s me facing one of my kitchen fears; shortcrust pastry! And a recipe from which you can learn, too!

You’ll need;

  • For the Pastry
  • 90g Unsalted Butter, cut into cubes and placed into the freezer

  • 175g Plain Flour

  • Pinch of Salt

  • 1 Tbsp Caster Sugar

  • 1 Tbsp Tap Water

  • For the Filling
  • 100g Ground Almonds

  • 100g Unsalted Butter, softened

  • 100g Brown Sugar

  • 1 Tsp Vanilla Bean Paste

  • Zest of 1 Lemon

  • 1 Large Egg

  • 60g Plain Flour

  • 1 Tsp Baking Powder

  • For the Topping
  • 3 Small Green Apples, peeled, cored and sliced

  • 20g Dark Chocolate

  • 2 Tbsp Full Cream Milk

You’ll need to;

  • Make the Pastry
  • Make the pastry by rubbing the fat into the flour, as described above. In essence, start by placing the cubes of butter into the flour. Then, using only your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour by picking up a bit of the flour with the cubes of butter and pressing them together. Continue doing this until you have a buttery rubble.
  • To this, add the sugar and salt. With a fork, stir everything together. Then, pour in the water and, again with a fork, mix everything together till the mixture starts to form a dough. To test this is simple; the mixture should hold together in a ball when pressed with your fingers. Keep some water by your side as you do this; add a splash more if needed to get the dough to form.
  • Once done, wrap the dough in cling film and place in the fridge for 30 mins at least.
  • Make the Filling
  • While the dough chills, start with the filling. In a bowl, combine the ground almonds, flour and baking powder. Stir with a whisk or fork to mix, and then set aside. Cream the butter and sugar till light and fluffy (you can do this with a whisk) in a large bowl. Add the lemon zest, vanilla essence and mix to combine, then beat in the egg. To this, add the almond and flour mixture, and fold in with a metal spoon. Set this aside once the last traces of flour disappear. 
  • Remove the pastry from the refrigerator, and roll out on a floured surface. Carefully transfer this rolled-out pastry to an 8-inch tart pan, or a regular cake pan with a removable base. The dough will break when you transfer it, this is very okay. Just patch it back together as it breaks in the pan, the important thing here is to not panic. If you’re using a regular 8-inch cake tin, the pastry should cover the base of the pan and go a little way up the sides (about 2 to 2.5 cm).
  • When you’ve shaped your pastry into the tart or cake tin, you can chill it for a further 15 minutes before getting started on actually filling it. This will give the pastry a chance to firm up, and you have some time to cut up the apples. Also, preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius.
  • Remove the tart base from the fridge, add in the pastry filling. Then, neatly (as best as you can, the stomach doesn’t judge), arrange the apple slices on the filling. Transfer this to the preheated oven for 35 minutes. By this time, the filling should be slightly puffed, and the pastry cooked through.

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