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I am beyond excited to share this homemade shortcrust pastry dough recipe. Such an easy, effective, and healthier way of making and enjoying your favorite shortcrust pastries. Hong Kong Egg Tart is an iconic shortcrust pastry, so is a pumpkin pie.
I am a big fan of crumbly yummy shortcrust pastries and have been experimenting with making my homemade shortcrust pastry dough for a while. I wanted a homemade organic wholesome shorcrust pastry dough made easier at home. After extensive experiments and learning, I am so thrilled to say I finally have it! Here I can’t wait to share all the learnings, tips, and tricks with you.
What is Shortcrust Pastry?
Shortcrust pastry is crumbly and has a biscuit texture. The classic shortcrust pastry that immediately comes to my mind is Hong Kong Style Egg Tart and Pumpkin Pie.
It is especially popular in the UK. Hong Kong, a former British colony, is the home to the iconic Hong Kong Egg Tart. It is different from Macao Egg Tart, which is a puff pastry.
The popular fruit pie such as Blueberry Pie in the US, however, usually uses a slightly different type of dough. It is a simpler version of shortcrust pastry dough without involving folding the dough. The dough also typically uses less butter.
What makes the shortcrust pastry flaky?
The first thing in many people’s minds is the ratio between flour and butter. How much is ideal? While you do not want excessive butter, you do need sufficient enough for the flaky effect and buttery taste. A common theme I have seen is people use too much unnecessary butter.
In my kitchen, I use organic unbleached all-purpose flour, 1 cup, about 165 g matches 10 tbsp organic unsalted butter perfectly. I also use 1/4 tsp (teaspoon) Himalayan pink salt along with 4 tbsp (tablespoon) ice-cold water to make the dough.
Then it comes to the technique stuff. The key component is the tiny solids of butter, that need to remain solid in the dough. The baking process then melts the butter which creates tiny pockets. In addition, the layered dough adds an extra flaky texture.
Therefore, the last thing you want to do is to let the butter melt and blend with the dough during the process.
How to make Homemade Shortcrust Pastry Dough Perfectly?
The first thing is to cut the butter into tiny cubes
The essential key here is to keep the butter very cold, I recommend putting them in the freezer for 30 minutes right before you start.
Place the flour and salt in a glass mixing bowl. I found glass works better than a plastic mixing bowl for making shortcrust pastry dough. Then cut the butter into small cubes, as small as possible. Do not grate the butter as that will make the butter mushy. The thin flakes also make it easier for butter to melt.
Another tip, use an ice cube to rub the knife to chill the knife before cutting. Pat dry the knife and then calmly but quickly cut the butter into as thin slices as possible. Then flip the stack of slices 90 degrees and repeat. Finally cut across the butter into very small cubes.
The second is to immediately fold the tiny butter cubes into the flour
While lots of recipes will ask you to use a food processor to make the dough, I do not recommend this method. My experiences suggest a better way as below.
Completely wrap the flour around each cube if possible. Multiple cubes may end up sticking to each other, you can use a stainless dough cutter to chop them apart and then toss them with the flour.
This is super important and one of the essential tips to make a crumbling shortcrust pastry. When wrapping each tiny cube of butter with flour, helps maintain the butter’s properties.
The Third is to make a rough dough and let it rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes
Add 1 tbsp iced water at a time and then quickly fold it into the flour and toss using a pair of bamboo spatulas. Repeat 3 times and add a total of 4 tbsp of iced water.
At this point, you still see some flour in the bottom. It is OK. Put on a pair of food processing gloves and press the dough together. Cover the glass bowl, either with a lid or food film, and let it rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
How to Fold the Shortcrust Pastry Dough?
I do 2x quadruple folds and chill the dough in the refrigerator for 30 minutes in between. Chill the dough again for 30 minutes after the 2x quadruple folds and then you can roll out the dough for shortcrust pastry.
For best results, I also recommend rolling out the dough in two phases. Phase 1 is to roll out to 2x the designed thickness. Then chill the dough sheet for 30 minutes before rolling it out to the desired thinness level.
For shortcrust pastry, the desired dough sheet should be around 0.2 inch, or about 0.5 cm (5 mm). By the way, this is the same for puff pastry.
First Quadruplel Fold
After 30 minutes, remove the dough from the refrigerator and place it on a generously floured dough mat. Gently press to form a dough.
Use a stainless steel dough cutter to help organize it into a rectangular shape. Use a heavy rolling pin to press the dough down to flatten it from all directions and then gradually roll it out into a long rectangle. I say gradually but you still need to work reasonably fast to avoid the dough/butter getting too warm.
It is OK the edges are a bit rough and the dough is not smooth but flaky. Use your fingers to pinch the edge to make it as smooth as possible along the way.
Once you have a long rectangular dough strip, do a quadruple fold. Fold both the top down and bottom up toward the center line. After that double-fold the top and bottom toward the center line together. You will have four layers at this point.
Use the stainless steel dough cutter to organize the dough block edge, and then place it either in a ziplock bag or container and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Second Quadruple Fold
Then remove the dough block from the refrigerator, rotate the dough block 90 degrees (a quarter turn), and repeat quadruple fold. Then put the dough block in the same bag used before and store it in the refrigerator for another 30 minutes.
How to get the dough ready to make shortcrust pastry?
After the 30-minute chill, the dough is now ready for you to roll out to make all kinds of yummy shortcrust pastry. I usually cut the dough into two portions, work on one portion at a time, and have the other portion remain refrigerated.
Shortcrust pastry requires a pretty thin dough sheet. How do you know it is thin enough? When you roll out the dough on a dough mat, once you can kind of see through the dough mat, then it is thin enough, about 1/16 inch.
To avoid overworking the dough, if you can, I suggest rolling out the dough into two phases. During Phase 1, roll the dough out to about 1/2 inch thick and then refrigerate it for 30 minutes before you further roll it out to the desired level. This stainless baking pan is super helpful for storing & chilling the shortcrust dough sheet in the refrigerator. Lay the pan with unbleached parchment paper.