On to the plate

Experimenting with flavours, colours and style of food served at our place

Finding the perfect Sweet Shortcrust Pastry



I’ve got a lovely pastry I use for making Christmas Mince Pies, but it’s not the right type of pastry for using in a tart. Especially a tart filled with a smooth tangy lemon curd like the French Lemon Cream I made recently.

I’d made two pastries during the weekend. One for the Neenish Tarts. It was a Jamie Oliver recipe which was perfectly fine, but not right for Neenish Tarts. Then I made one that Gordon Ramsay had on YouTube, and read up countless other recipes online.

Needless to say, for one reason or another, none of them was right, or just didn’t come together like it was described.

Mr Fussy reminded me that the pastry I make for the Lemon Meringue Pie (one of his favourite desserts) has a really nice pastry. And it does. But again it would be a little on the sweet side.

So I just winged it and tweaked the recipe here and there and what I ended up with was, for me and my tastes, perfection.

There’s a lot of photos in this post (at the end). Pastry is one of those things that can be a bit fiddly so I find the more photos I can use as a guide the more confident I feel I’m on the right right track.

Short Pastry – inspired by Sweet Old-fashioned Favourites (The Australian Women’s Weekly cookbooks)


  • 212 gm flour (yes I know it’s weird, but it’s 7.5 oz flour)
  • 145 gm unsalted butter – cold and cut into 1cm cubes
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 tsp icing sugar
  • Vodka – from the freezer – enough to make the dough form large crumbs


  • Use a food processor, or do this by hand.
  • Add the flour, butter, salt and icing sugar and combine until the butter is the size of peas
  • Add the Vodka while the processor is still running until the dough forms large crumbs
  • You may wish to pulse the processor to avoid over processing the dough
  • When you push your finger and thumb together the dough should stick together. If it doesn’t, add a little more Vodka
  • Dump the dough crumbs on a lightly floured bench
  • Push the dough together to form a ball
  • You do not need to knead the dough. Just gather it up into a ball
  • If you’re using the dough in tarts then roll the dough into a log to make it easier to get the right shape for the individual tart tins
  • If you’re making a single tart, then shape the dough into a disk about 5cm high
  • Cover the dough in Glad (plastic) wrap
  • Chill dough for at least 30 minutes
  • While the dough is chilling, heat the oven to 175 deg Celsius
  • You can also freeze the dough and reuse later
  • Roll the dough out and ease the dough into the tin making sure you press the bottom against the side to get a good fit
  • Either use a knife or use the rolling pin to cut off the excess dough. Leave this aside. If you end up with any holes in the pastry case during baking, then you can take small pieces of the dough to “plug” the hole. The still hot pastry case will mostly cook the little piece you’ve used to “plug” any holes
  • Cook the pastry for 10 minutes or until the edges have just started to colour. You may need to cook the pastry a little longer depending on how thick/thin you rolled it out, and how big/small the tart tin is
  • Place on a wire rack to cool.


My pastry cases did end up with little holes and I “plugged” these with left over dough. I used my fingernail to spread the pastry dough over the hole. You might be able to see the result in this photo. And you hopefully can make out that the edges have already begun to cook just with the heat from the baked pastry case.


This dough is so beautifully crisp and delicate without being crumbly or fragile. I really really liked it. I ate my “test” one. It almost had the taste of shortbread. It’s the first pastry that I’ve actually thought had such a nice flavour.

Perhaps it’s the Vodka.

In case you’re wondering why you’d use Vodka, it’s been known to help tenderise the pastry. Whatever, it seemed to have worked and resulted in a really fine tasty pastry that I enjoyed.

Of course each to their own, and what I like could be wildly different to what you like. But I’ll be keeping this recipe I cobbled together and using it again, because I enjoyed it so much.




You can see the butter in the uncooked pastry dough. I think it looks lovely, and it ensures the pastry cooks crisp.

The other thing to notice is the pastry started to pull away from the sides of the tin but it hasn’t shrunk down.

That French Lemon Cream tart was so fine that I almost picked up the plate and licked the left overs. But what sort of example would that set?




2 thoughts on “Finding the perfect Sweet Shortcrust Pastry

  1. I’m looking forward to mince pies, I’ve already started eating Stollen so I suppose Christmas food season is open!

    • Hi Alli, I’ve already made the Christmas cake so the mince pies are probably on my to do list staying next weekend. Do you make your own mince meat?

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