Wulf's Webden

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Sweet Shortcrust Pastry


I’m two batches into this year’s mince pie making. For the first lot, I just relied on memory to make the pastry. Half fat to flour, along with a pinch of salt and a dose of caster sugar, use the food processor to combine to a breadcrumb texture and then some water (or did I use milk?) to help it combine together. It did make pastry but it turned out quite sticky and I also had to make mincemeat pasties as I couldn’t find the baking dishes for regular pies. It was a novel result but I wanted to do better with my second batch.

I ended up with a recipe from Mary Berry. This one used 175g flour combined with 100g butter as the base. The higher proportion of fat means you don’t have to grease the trays – the pastry is, effectively, self-basting. For sweetness, 25g of icing sugar, which is much finer than caster and, for Christmas, some orange zest too. I didn’t notice her mentioning salt but I threw in a pinch as seasoning.

Once that was ‘breadcrumbed’, it was time to add the liquid. In this recipe, it was the yolk of one egg and 1 tbsp water, although I think one of the videos I watched had her just add a whole egg instead. I thought it wasn’t enough liquid as it didn’t seem to be coming together but MB knows her stuff and so I turned the processer back on for a little longer and, sure enough, it suddenly began to coalesce. The result was a much easier pastry to work with and better tasting too as far as I could tell – although most went to last night’s concert so I’ll have to do another batch today for us.

Moral of the story – don’t add too much liquid and give it time to come together. For reference, the videos I ended up working from were from the Great British Bake-off and Britbox.

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