SShortcrust pastry, also known as a friable or a dry dough, is the one that breaks easily once it is baked. The dough ist not characterized for being elastic, on the contrary, it crumbles easily.
Examples of recipes that are made with shortcrust pastry are: tarts, the Linzer cake, a lemon pie, an apple pie, scones, cookies, cornstarch argentine alfajores, etc.
According to the amount of fat they contain, they can be lighter or heavier.
- Pâte à foncer: includes egg and sugar, used for tarts, foncer is the act of placing a dough in a mold
- Pâte brisée: has more butter, is used sometimes without sugar
- Pâte sucrée: has more sugar and is the sweetest of all
- Pâte sablée: has the same ingredients as the Pâte sucrée, but the butter is creamed with the sugar and eggs before the flour is folded in, this dough is not as crumbly as the other doughs, it holds its shape more efficiently, it i mostly used for buiscuits and tarts
Shortcrust pastry is made using 2 basic techniques.
With the first one, the cold fat and the mixed dry ingredients are “cut” into each other, rather than blended, until a uniform sandy mixture is achieved. This can be done in a blender or by hand with a dough scraper and ensures that the flour granules are adequately coated with fat and are less likely to develop gluten. After this step, the liquids are added and the dough is formed.
With the second technique, the fat at room temperature is creamed with the sugar and the eggs. Then the liquids and flavors are added and finally the dry ingredients. The ingredients are then unifed using a dough scraper.
To form the final dough the fraisage technique can be used in both methods. The almost unified dough ist rapidly and strongly pressed with the heel of one hand on the board and away from you. By smearing the dough after mixing it, the pieces of butter elongate in the dough. Instead of butter pieces or balls, streaks of butter form throughout the dough and a pastry with a unique texture is finally achieved. With this technique a final blending of the fat with the dry ingredients is also achieved. Overworking the dough should be avoided. This would generate gluten and would made the dough more elastic and less crumblier or flakier.
These doughs should be chilled for at least one hour. Ideally, they should be made the day before. With the cold and the resting in the fridge, the flour is hydrated, and therefore the dough can be stretched more easily later when it is molded or cut.
The baking of the shortcrust pastry is done in an oven at 160 to 180 degrees Celsius (433 to 454 Kelvin degrees). The higher the temperature, the more golden brown it will get. In the case of pies or tarts that have a cooked filling, the molded dough is often pre-baked at 180 degrees Celsius (454 Kelvin degrees) for 10 minutes. To prevent the molded dough from losing its shape, it is filled with weights. After the pre-baking, the weight is removed, the pie or tart is filled, and it is returned to the oven to finish baking.
These type of doughs can be kept for 7 days in the refrigerator or for 2 months in the freezer. If the dough contains baking powder, it can only be kept for 3 days in the refrigerator and for 2 months in the freezer.
- the better the quality of the fat used, the higher the quality of flavor achieved.
- by adding a pinch of salt, the flavor is enhanced and a better baking color is achieved.
- using icing sugar, a visually smoother and more perfect dough is obtained.
- doughs made with yolks only, are crumblier and have a more delicate taste.
- if a more airy dough is desired, baking powder can be added, up to 2% of the weight of the flour used. If the dough will be frozen, 10% extra baking powder can be added to ensure the dough rises in the oven after having been freezed.
- for a cocoa dough, replace up to 10% of the flour with cocoa powder.
- for a dough with grounded nuts, replace up to 10% of the flour with grounded nuts.
- some part of the flour can be replaced by cornstarch. This will make the crust break easier and will give it a more delicate taste.