Life is never too short to home bake….lesson learnt!

I’ve always preached that “life is too short to make pastry”. Since fresh pastry in a packet has been widely available in the supermarket, I haven’t bothered making my own. How silly I’ve been!!!

This evening, for the first time in years I made pastry – real shortcrust pastry! OK, so I used the food processor, but just because I use my own form of power tools, doesn’t make me any less a domestic goddess. And anyway, Delia said it was ok to use an electric appliance, so if she says its ok, then its ok!!!

The pastry was used for Mum’s old fave, mince beef and onion pies. They were, I’m pleased to report, given a seal of approval by the resident savoury pie connoisseur (the Hubster). I managed to roll the pastry nice and thin, so it cooked right through, and there was not even a hint of a soggy bottom. My only small issue was the pie dish wouldn’t let the pies go. But with a little persuasion, and the use of 3 different knives, a teaspoon, a desert spoon, a tea towel and a slotted spoon, it plopped onto the plate, next to the veg all ready for dinner. Nom nom nom…..

So next time you hear someone say ‘but life is too short’, don’t believe them! I’m not saying shop bought pastry isn’t nice, but its not a patch on homemade!

Basic Shortcrust Pastry

100g Butter (fresh out of the fridge and cut into approx 1cm cubes)

225g Flour (sieved)

1/4 teapoon Salt (sieved with flour)

6 – 10 tablespoons of cold water

Put the butter, sieved flour and salt into the food processor and blitz until it looks like breadcrumbs. Don’t overdo it (30 seconds in mine was plenty) as you don’t want to overwork the butter.

Pour out into a bowl and add 4 tablespoons of water. Now, this is where you get your hands in (make sure they’re clean!). Use you hands to bring the water and flour mix together. Gradually add more water untill you have a dry but doughy ball. What ever you do, don’t overwork it. The butter needs to remain cold, and the heat from you hands may make it greasy.

Now it needs to rest. There is a real scientific reason for this – it’s all to do with the gluten in the flour reacting with the liquids. Put it in clingfilm and pop it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Don’t think you can skip this part…it’s really worth waiting for the science to do its bit! At this point you can actually freeze it, or it can last in the fridge for 2 or 3 days, just remember to bring it back to room teperature before you use it.

After your minimum 30 mins is up, remove from the fridge and roll out. I used it for a savoury pie, but this basic recipe can be used for sweet pies, quiches, flans etc, etc.

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