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It’s a double-post weekend with 2 recipes so you can make a very autumnal mixed roasted nuts & milk caramel pie, right after reading this ! 

Shortcrust pastry can be prepared following the simplest equation : 2 to 1 or twice as much flour as butter as opposed to puff-pastry that is 1 to 1 or equal amounts of butter to flour, and a little addition of salt for taste and ice water to bring it all together. 

The most basic and neutral shortcrust pastry is made with these basic ingredients : 250 grams (2 cups) all-purpose flour + 125 grams (½ cup + ½ tbsp) cold butter + 15 ml (1 tbsp) ice water + 5 grams (1 tsp) salt. That’s it, that’s all. You can decide how to modify all that.

There are several modifications possible, whether you want to make it heavier with whole flours or crunchier with the addition of cornmeal or wheat semolina or more tender with nut flours and/or egg yolk or sweeter with the addition of sugar (I add 25% of the weight of the flours, in sugar).

Either way, you have to respect the proportions as you modify ingredient ratios. The butter (or fats) should always be half as much as the combined flours and if you do add sugar, then you’ll have to add more liquid, whether it’s extra water or egg or a touch of vinegar too.

How you put it all together is up to you too. You can use your hands in an old-school way, you can use a hand-held pastry blender/cutter for a more mechanical approach or the easiest and fastest method, without overheating the dough, is a food-processor and a few pulses. 

After mixing and combining, you form the dough into a ball, wrap it, let it rest, flatten it out, shape it to your baking dish, chill it, bake it using baking paper and pie weights or just aluminum foil brushed with vegetable oil (so it retains it shape while baking and doesn’t shrink), perhaps seal the inside with some beaten egg white and bake some more, then fill and bake again, if the filling requires it !

Here’s my version for a shortcrust pastry pie shell for a sweet pie (which is why there are 2 published recipes this weekend).

One step at a time, right ? Now you can go see the pie recipe ! . . . :)

'easy as pie' sweet shortcrust pastry pie-shell

12.10.2019

375 grams

ingredients

  • *note : makes 1 large 33 cm disk of dough weighing 375 grams or 2 smaller disks of 23 cm weighing 237,5 grams each
  • 188 grams (1 ½ cups) all-purpose flour (or replace 2 tbsp/15 grams flour with 1 ½ tbsp fine wheat semolina or cornmeal or 2 ½ tbsp almond powder)
  • 47 grams (6 tbsp) icing sugar
  • 2 grams (½ tsp) fine sea salt
  • 94 grams (¼ cup + 2 ½ tbsp) butter, cold or frozen and cut in cubes
  • 19 grams (1 whole yolk or 1 ½ tbsp) egg yolk (reserve the 3 tbsp of egg white for later)
  • 22,5 ml (1 ½ tbsp) ice water 
  • 2,5 ml (½ tsp) apple cider vinegar

instructions

  • combine the dry ingredients (flour, salt, icing sugar, semolina or cornmeal or almond powder) in a food processor until mixed, then add the cubes of chilled butter and pulse 3 times for 2 seconds each time until it becomes a sandy texture, then add the premixed liquid ingredients (egg yolk, vinegar and ice water) and pulse again 3 times for 2 seconds or until it comes together into a clump, transfer to a work surface, shape into a flattened ball, wrap in plastic film and refrigerate for at least 1 hour
  • remove the pastry dough from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature for 15 minutes, then sprinkle the ball with some flour and place between 2 sheets of baking paper and flatten it out evenly using a rolling pin until slightly larger than your baking dish (add the diameter + 2 times the height of the sides)
  • *note : my baking dish is a metallic fluted pie dish with a removable bottom and measures 27 cm in diameter and 2 ½ cm high so the flattened dough diameter needs to be at least 27 + 2,5 + 2,5 = 32 cm but I made it 33 cm … 
  • drape the sheet of dough inside your baking dish and mold it to the form, pressing it well, cut off any excess (reserve the extra dough to patch up the pie shell where necessary before baking, if any small holes appear and/or after baking if any small cracks appear)
  • place in the freezer until very cold for 30 minutes, then remove, use a fork to prick holes everywhere, brush a sheet of aluminum foil with vegetable oil and press the oiled side down onto the pie shell to mold it perfectly
  • bake in a 210°C preheated oven for 20 minutes (it will be pale and slightly golden under the aluminum foil), remove from the oven and let cool down completely (still in the baking dish and still covered with aluminum foil), when completely cooled, peel off the aluminum foil and brush the edges and the inside with 1 ½ tbsp of the reserved beaten egg white and bake again at 210°C for another 5 minutes (to seal the interior), then remove and let cool completely but keep inside the baking dish
  • *note : if the fillings will not require additional baking, then bake the empty pie shell for an additional 5-7 minutes when still covered and before sealing with the egg white …
  • when ready, prepare the filling, fill the pie shell and bake again (if the fillings require it).