Confession: Making your own shortcrust pastry is devilishly easy. Other than it tasting about ten times better than that rubbish supermarket frozen pastry, in making it yourself, you’re then certified to whack on ‘with home-made shortcrust pastry’ onto the end of the name of whatever it is you made and a chorus of ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ with ensue.
While it’s understandable to buy and use frozen pastry if you’re short of time, for me it really detracts from the culinary experience somewhat; for example, I’m not happy taking out my mixing bowls and donning my apron just to make a batch of choc-chip cookies – if I’m going to roll my sleeves up, I want to do something else that’s more challenging, such as a double-tiered cake or soufflé while I’m at it.
Shortcrust pastry only been a recent attempt of mine (by recent I mean in the last few months), and I have not yet had a pastry failure. I’ve made it so many times now that I can make the pastry dough half-asleep (and have). What I do is simply throw everything in the food processor the night before, knead it together, then wrap it in cling film to refrigerate overnight. In allowing the pastry to rest, the gluten in the flour will react to the liquids (water, egg) and allow it to have enough elasticity to be handled. Everything needs to be cold, cold, COLD. Cold butter, cold water, cold hands, preferably a cold kitchen, but we can’t always have we want.
I’ve watched enough cooking episodes to know that the primary difficulties are the pastry sticking to the board, and when rolling the pastry onto the fluted pan.
1) Pastry sticking to the board – simple, sandwich your dough in-between two sheets of baking paper before rolling;
2) Rolling the pastry onto the fluted pan – if your pastry begins to soften under your hands/rolling pin while you’re rolling it out, or just before you’re about to flip it into the pan, freeze it. Freezing the pastry for just under two minutes will grant you a lifeline to try again, and allow you to mould it into the pan.
It really is so ridiculously simple that I don’t think I need to babble on for any longer. Here’s my recipe for Passionfruit Curd Tarts (with home-made shortcrust pastry!) with Vanilla Bean Chantilly Cream. Enjoy and happy baking!
PASSIONFRUIT CURD TARTS WITH VANILLA BEAN CHANTILLY CREAM
For the pastry (sweet):
125g plain flour
62g unsalted butter, chilled, finely chopped
40g sifted icing sugar
1 egg yolk, chilled
62g chilled butter, chopped
77g passionfruit pulp (tinned pulp is fine)
77g caster sugar
2 egg yolks
150ml thickened cream
Vanilla bean paste/extract/essence
Caster sugar, extra
- In a food processor, sift the icing sugar into the bowl with the flour and butter, before processing until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
- Whisk the egg yolk and a teaspoon of chilled water in a bowl until combined, then with the food processor motor running, add to the flour mixture. Process until the mixture begins to form large clumps, stopping the machine before the mixture forms a ball (if you process the dough too much, it will make your pastry shrink when baking).
- Turn the pastry onto a lightly floured work surface and knead gently to bring together. Form into a disc before wrapping in cling wrap and refrigerating overnight or for at least two hours.
1. Combine the butter, sugar, passionfruit and egg yolks in a medium saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring, for 10-15 minutes or until the mixture thickens. Transfer to a sterilised jar and place in fridge for one hour to chill.
- Preheat oven to 180˚C. For individual tart tins (11cm diameter), divide the pastry into four and roll out each until a 2-3mm thickness. Place into tart tins and prick bases with a fork. Place a sheet of baking paper over the pastry and put on pastry weights or baking beans/rice. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove pastry weights before baking for another 10 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven and cool in tin.
- Whip the cream with a dab of vanilla paste and about a tablespoon of caster sugar until soft peaks.
- Carefully remove pastry from tin. Layer vanilla cream into the pastry shell until approximately halfway up the side of the pastry shell. Top up with passionfruit curd. Serve with quenelle of Chantilly cream.
+ Make shortbread out of the remaining pastry with cookie cutters.
+ Remaining passionfruit curd is an excellent accompaniment to crepes.