This is a simple shortcrust. The savoury version can be used for pies and quiches; the sweet makes a great base for tarts. The trick is in rolling out the pastry between two sheets of baking parchment – this way you don’t need to use any extra flour so the mix stays buttery and moist.
The pastry can be made the night before and kept in the fridge. If you’re using it to line a tart case, just be sure to take it out a good 30 minutes before you need to use it, so it has time to soften.
You can add 10g finely chopped herbs, or 1 tbsp finely grated unwaxed lemon zest, to add a different flavour to the pastry.
MAKES ENOUGH TO LINE A 20CM TART TIN
For savoury pastry
250g plain flour
pinch of sea salt
125g cold unsalted butter, chopped
about 6 tbsp water
For sweet pastry
150g plain flour
50g granulated sugar
pinch of sea salt
100g cold unsalted butter, chopped
about 4 tbsp water
Set up a food processor fitted with the blade attachment and add the flour, sugar (if making sweet pastry), salt and butter. Pulse the mix to form a consistency like fine crumbs, ensuring the butter is incorporated. Or place the flour, sugar (if making sweet pastry) and salt in a large bowl and rub in the butter with your fingertips untl it looks like fine crumbs.
Let the processor run continuously while slowly pouring the water down the funnel until the mix comes together to form a ball of dough, or just mix it in with the blade of a butter knife. You may not need all the water, so go carefully; similarly you may need to add a little more if it doesn’t come together. Once the dough has formed, turn off the machine, or stop mixing with the knife; it will be difficult to roll out (and the pastry will be tougher) if overworked.
Place the pastry between sheets of baking parchment. Using a rolling pin, roll out to a thickness of 2mm. Try to ensure the dough is level and even.
At this stage you can use the pastry straight away or keep it in the fridge for up to 5 days, stored flat on a tray and covered tightly with cling film.