I used to think that making pastry was a horrendously complicated undertaking. I may have been slightly traumatised when I was younger by a shortcrust pastry-making attempt that ended in a lot of crumbly mess and not a lot of actual pastry. That failed experience coupled with my inability to roll things out into anything resembling a circle resulted in the mistaken belief that anyone able to successfully make pastry must be blessed with some kind of innate skill. A delusion slightly fuelled by my mum, who has always been adamant that she doesn’t have that special knack and is therefore incapable of making pastry without it all going horribly wrong.
One of my mum’s friends makes the best tartes and quiches. She always makes her own pastry and it’s ever-so-slightly flaky and just… amazing. So one day, I asked her to show me the secret to a wonderful tarte or quiche pastry. Well, it turns out that it is neither difficult nor time-consuming and there is no inherent ability required. Being able to roll things into circles, however, does come in handy (still not one of my strong points, but practice makes perfect and all that).
So with the exception of puff pastry (I draw the line at spending 10h of my life folding pastry, letting it rest, rolling it, folding it again, letting it rest again, rolling it again, etc.), I now always make my own pastry. I feel that it makes all my tartes and quiches just that tiny bit yummier (so modest, I know). What is fabulous about this particular pastry is that it is quick to make, there’s no waiting around for it to rise, it works for both savoury and sweet recipes, it can be baked blind if required but works just as well if it isn’t and it can be stored in the fridge for up to a week (you could probably even freeze it, though I’ve never tried it). There is therefore NO excuse for shop-bought pastry!
Easy-peasy tarte/quiche pastry
Makes enough for two 24-26cm tartes/quiches (depending on thickness)
Recipe from my mum’s friend
The pastry works for both savoury and sweet recipes and you can add ground spices into the pastry to give a subtle hint of additional flavour to whatever you are making. It can be stored in the fridge for up to a week and probably be frozen too (though I haven’t actually tried it). If you’ve stored it in the fridge, bring it out about an hour before you want to roll it out (microwave it for about 5 seconds if you forget, just to soften it up).
250g all-purpose flour
100g butter (slightly softened if possible)
100ml of lukewarm water (it has to be lukewarm)
1. Butter the tarte/quiche/whatever tin(s) that you plan on lining with the pastry (even if they are non-stick).
2. Cut the butter into little cubes, and add it to a large bowl with the flour, a pinch of salt (even if it’s for a sweet tarte) and the lukewarm water. Knead by pressing downwards and bringing the pastry round the sides of the bowl. Make sure that you really work the butter cubes into the flour. (This should take about 10mins maximum – I told you it was quick!)
3. When the dough forms a ball (if it gets too sticky, add a bit more flour), split it into two. Take one half and shape it into a ball, then slightly flatten it onto a floured work surface and roll it out to the required diameter and thickness.
4. Line the buttered tin with the pastry (to easily lift the pastry into the tin, fold it into quarters – it shouldn’t stick to itself), trim the edges as necessary, prick with a fork and if you have time, leave it to rest in the fridge for about 30mins (this is optional, but helps make it slightly crispier) whilst you prepare the filling . If you’re only using half the pastry, wrap the other half in some tin foil and store it in the fridge for up to a week.