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Minimal effort, maximum taste: the best packed lunch recipes

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Simple Shortcrust Pastry

Simple Shortcrust Pastry

Shortcrust pastry recipe, just 15 pence per serving!

No preservatives or unnecessary ingredients – just flour, butter & water – fresh and simple.

I was lucky enough to attend a WI baking course taught by the amazing Alison Haigh a few years ago (thanks, Dad — epic birthday present!) where we made a whole host of delicious baked goods. But the one thing that really stuck with me was how unbelievably easy it was to make real, home-made shortcrust pastry. With the help of a few indispensible tips & tricks, the mysterious art of pastry was unlocked — and, fear not, I’ll share these with you below! Surprisingly simple in the end really, but, mostly, I appreciate knowing that no preservatives or unhealthy extras have gone into my shortcrust (ooer!).

Once you’ve got this pastry recipe under your belt, you can open up your repertoire to so many different dishes — quiches, tarts, pasties, pies. Then, on top of that, sweet shortcrust pastry is only a step away, leading you into the realm of show-off desserts and puddings. Just picture treacle tart, strawberry & rhubarb pie, mini chocolate tartlets… A world of pastry is at your fingertips!

Having said that, proper Cornish pasties remain a firm favourite in The Hungry Hungry Household when it comes to shortcrust pastry recipes. Who can reisist those flaky, buttery, pastry delights, filled to the brim with steak and vegetables? Definitely not us! (Click here for the Cornish pasty recipe.)

Prep time: 25 mins (plus 15 mins chilling time) | Servings: makes around 300g pastry
Cost? I paid £0.93 for the whole batch

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Full Instructions

Mix the fat and flour:

150g butter (chilled and cubed); 200g plain flour

  1. Add the butter to the flour and use a pastry blender to chop the fat finely into the flour
    *alternative* roll cold butter between 2 sheets of parchment paper then tear pieces off, about the size of a little finger nail, into the four
  2. Keep chopping the butter & flour together until well combined, although no need to continue until it resembles breadcrumbs — the fat is likely to get too warm if you keep going that long
    *alternative* lightly rub the butter & flour together with your fingertips, but ensure you have cool hands as the aim is to try and keep the butter as cold as possible

Make the dough:

  1. Add the iced water to the mixture
  2. Use a dough scraper or a knife to “cut” the liquid through the mixture
  3. Don’t be tempted to add more water, just keep going with the cutting motion and the dough will start to bind
    *tip* if it’s really not binding, add another ½ tbsp iced water, but be patient as too much water will make the pastry tough
  4. Once the dough has roughly come together, use your hands to shape it into a ball
  5. Lay the dough out on a well-floured surface and knead gently and briefly until it forms one smooth piece
    *tip* try to handle the dough as little as possible, the key to good dough is not working it too much and keeping it cool
  6. Shape into a flatten disc, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 15 minutes

Storing and using the shortcrust pastry dough:

  1. After the dough has chilled (don’t allow it to go too hard), you can roll it out to your desired size & shape
  2. Use short, sharp rolls with a well-floured rolling pin on a flour-dusted surface — don’t steamroller heavily through the dough
    *tip* give the pastry dough a quarter-turn after each roll to stop it from sticking
  3. If you’re not planning on using the dough straightaway, you can freeze it until needed — wrapped in cling film and in a freezer bag — just defrost thoroughly before attempting to roll it out

The Hungry Hungry Husband - the hunt for the perfect packed lunch

Cornish pasty shortcrust pastry recipe
Click the picture for the Cornish pasty recipe

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