This is the second in the "Back to Basics" posts that I will be doing. Today it's pastry, something a lot of people think is difficult, but it's really not. The most important thing to remember is that everything should be cold. This recipe is a very simple short crust pastry that I use for everything from pies to quiche.
Before we start, I'm going to confess that I changed bowls half way through, as I realised that it is quite hard to see a yellow mixture in a yellow bowl. Anyway, on with the recipe!
Measure out the flour and put into the bowl. It's best to sieve it, but I'm not going to lie, I am very bad for not doing that, however, the pastry still comes out okay, but not as good as when I sieve it. Next, put in your very cold butter or marg, cut into lumps.
Now comes the tricky part, making sure that your hands are cold before handling the mixture. I'm lucky in that I have bad circulation in my hands which tends to make them cold most of the time. However, if you have warm hands it's a good idea to run them under the cold tap. When your hands are nice and cold, rub the butter into the flour using your finger tips until it has the consistency of breadcrumbs.
Next, add the (very cold) water slowly mixing it into the dry ingredients. Two tips here: I measure the water into a jug for easier pouring and I use a knife to start off the mixing of the wet and dry ingredients together, once it's gotten going I use my hands to pull the mixture together. Make sure you take off rings and watches before start otherwise it gets very messy, and it isn't the most hygenic either.
If there is too little water, pieces will be flaking off and the pastry will be very crumbly and you should add a little more water. If there is too much water then the mixture will be sticky and you need to add a little more flour.
The perfect pastry will be slightly tacky to the touch but otherwise smooth. Wrap the finished pastry in clingfilm or a sandwich bag and put in the fridge where it can cool before you roll it out. It's good for the pastry to have at least an hour in the fridge but don't worry if you need to use it sooner than that.
Let me know how you get on and if you have any questions at all regarding this or anything else, please let me know.