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 ! . . . :)