So as I mentioned quite a while ago, my New Year’s resolution for this year was to crack making perfect pastry. I wouldn’t say I’m quite there yet, but I definitely think I’ve learnt a lot along the way and so I wanted to share some tips and tricks with you.
One thing that used to fill me with dread was lining a tin with pastry – especially homemade pastry, which tends to be lovely and short (read: a nightmare to transfer from your work surface to the tin!!!). So, where to start…
Sounds nuts, but the temperature of your pastry when you roll it out and line the tin will make a difference. The warmer it is, the harder it will be – and so the colder, the better. Now, obviously, not so cold it’s frozen – but well chilled pastry that you work with quickly will be a lot easier to roll out and line your case with. This is because of the butter in the pastry, and as most dairy free ‘butters’ tend to be softer to start with, the firmer you can make it the better.
I also without fail will chill shortcrust pastry again once the tin is lined before baking. See ‘To trim, or not to trim’ below!
When I’m rolling out pastry, I always flour the work surface and the rolling pin. I also tend to take a large tablespoon of flour, and just leave it on a pile at the side of the work surface. Again, sounds weird – but when you’re having a nightmare and the pastry has stuck to the surface or your rolling pin, you can just quickly grab what you need, rather than worrying about rooting round cupboards with dirty hands.
To trim or not to trim? The great debate:
So, there is always a lot of discussion about when you should trim the excess pastry from the tin. Do you do this before it is blind baked or only after? There are fans of both – however I much prefer to trim before blind baking. Yes – it will shrink a little, but, if you really only trim to the edge of the tin, it will not be noticeable, and if your pastry is still cold when it goes in to bake, the shrinkage should be minimal.
How to line a tin:
First, always grease your tin. I do this with about 1 tsp of dairy free butter for a 20-something cm tin, and a piece of kitchen paper. I use the paper to work the butter around the tin, making sure I get into each and every flute. This is key to making sure that your pastry doesn’t stick, especially if the filling ends up escaping and getting between the pastry and the tin!
So, once your pastry is made, chilled, and rolled – how does it go from the work surface to the tin?! There are two main ways to do this – hung over a rolling pin and then laid over the tin, or if the pastry is very soft (such as in this Frangipane tart recipe), I like to fold the edges in (making sure you don’t squeeze it so it sticks!) then pick it up and place it in the tin. I then unfold the edges, so the tin is covered.
If your pastry cracks or falls apart – don’t worry! With shortcrust, everything is fixable – just take a bit of excess pastry, and use your fingers to work it together, covering the gap and smoothing it over.
Now your pastry is in the tin, use your fingers to press the pastry into the bottom edge – this makes sure you’ve got right to the edges.
Cut off a small bit of excess pastry, roll into a rough ball (cherry tomato size), dust with flour, and then use this ball to press the dough into the flutes of the tin. Work going round the tin, pressing the bottom into place before working your way up. This ensures you get an even edge of pastry, and is a much more effective way to shape the pastry than using your fingers, which are likely to stick to the pastry and leave marks.
Once your pastry is neatly pressed into the tin, use the ball of pastry to start pressing down directly onto the edge of the tin. This will cut the excess pastry away, and will leave you with a very neat pastry edge at the top.
Prick the base all over with a fork, and the leave to chill in the fridge for about 15 minutes, or until the oven has come to temperature (see each recipe for temps and timings).
I really hope you find this guide useful, and hope it helps to give you confidence to tackle lining any tin with pastry, ready for any delicious filling!