I invested in a food processor which makes this task much easier to undertake. Shortcrust pastry can be made successfully without a food processor by rubbing the butter into the flour however, if you are a serious cook like me, I recommend investing in a few key electrical items to help save you time in the kitchen. A thorough list of recommended kitchen equipment can be found in my cookbook,
1 ½ cups plain flour
125g firm cold butter
2 tablespoons chilled water
Directions to Cook:
*Note: If you do not have chilled water in the fridge, measure the quantity required and place in a ceramic cup in the freezer for fast cooling.
Cut butter into 2cm cubes. Put flour and butter into a food processor and process until mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add lightly beaten egg and chilled water. Process until mixture comes together in a ball.
Turn pastry out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth. Press to flatten slightly. Wrap in greaseproof paper and chill for about 15 minutes or until dough is just firm. Follow the rolling and baking instructions for each individual recipe in which the pastry is used.
To make by hand:
Cut butter into 2cm cubes. Sift flour into a large mixing bowl. Rub butter into flour with fingertips until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
Make a well in the centre, add egg whisked with cold water. Mix through with the blade of a butter knife and then use hands to knead into a ball.
Turn pastry out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Press to flatten slightly. Wrap in greaseproof paper and chill for about 15 minutes or until dough is just firm.
Follow the rolling and baking instructions for each individual recipe in which the pastry is used.
Note: I have not had any success with gluten-free variations on this recipe. Specialty gluten free, ready-made pastries and mixes are available at selected outlets. I have not yet tried them all to be able to recommend the best options.
I use the same blind baking beans a few times over. Let them cool completely after use and store in a labelled and air tight jar or container at the back of the pantry. If they are not cooled completely, they will sweat and go mouldy in storage. Do not use beans for any other cooking purposes and dispose of after a few uses.
Life for us has been all about survival on a shoestring budget. I've learnt how to live on very basic (and cheap) staples and I cook from scratch and don't buy prepackaged mixes of anything. I've raised three happy and healthy kids and I believe that food is central to good communication and a happy and connected life!
I have an unpublished cookbook manuscript that lives on my kitchen bench. This is the collection that I have fed my family from for many years, all made from a core list of practical and economical ingredients. The manuscript is splattered with butter, flour and milk from daily use. It moves between the kitchen and the office as I edit and test-kitchen the recipes.