The case for shortcrust - not fashionable, not clever, not over-rich, but for my money the humble shortcrust is one of the best pastries of all.
What it provides is a light crisp, melting crust, which has all the important flavours of the wheat - all that you imagine home-made pastry to be. It is made, quite simply, from flour, fat and water, with nothing else added. But a well-made, thinly rolled shortcrust provides a discreet 'melt in the mouth' presence, a perfect backdrop to the richness, intensity or even delicacy of filling and ingredients.
You can now watch how to make shortcrust pastry in our Cookery School Video, just click the image to play
This recipe is from Delia's Complete How to Cook. For an 18 or 20cm flan or quiche
Begin by sifting the flour and pinch of salt into a large bowl, holding the sieve as high as possible, so that they get a really good airing before you begin.
Now add the lard and butter, cut into smallish lumps, then take a knife and begin to cut the fat into the flour. Go on doing this until it looks fairly evenly blended, then begin to rub the fat into the flour using your fingertips only and being as light as possible. As you gently rub the fat into the flour, lift it up high and let it fall back into the bowl, which again means that all the time air is being incorporated, but do this just long enough to make the mixture crumbly with a few odd lumps here and there.
Now sprinkle 1 tablespoon of water in, then, with a knife, start bringing the dough together, using the knife to make it cling. Then discard the knife and, finally, bring it together with your fingertips. When enough liquid is added, the pastry should leave the bowl fairly clean. If this hasn't happened, then using your fingertips, add a spot more water.
Now place the pastry in a polythene bag and leave it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to rest.
How to roll pastry
Rolling to a round
Before the pastry is rested pat it into a round shape. Then place the rested dough on a lightly floured surface and use a rolling pin that is absolutely straight.
Lightly dust the pin with flour and rest it on the centre of the dough. Place the flat of your hands lightly on each end of the pin and begin to roll the dough backwards and forwards (don’t be tempted to roll from side to side), gently and evenly, re-dusting the pin and the surface very lightly with flour if you need to stop the pastry sticking.
Give the pastry quarter-turns as it expands and, provided you continue to roll backwards and forwards and not side-to-side, it will roll out into a round shape that will keep its shape and not shrink as it cooks.
Rolling oblongs or squares
As above, before resting pat the dough into the shape that you want.
Then after its rested just knock the sides gently with the rolling pin to keep it in the shape you want, give quarter turns – as for a round - and then square it up using the rolling pin to knock the edges into shape.