This simple Sweet Shortcrust Pastry is an amazingly easy-to-make shortbread type crust for all of your sweets, desserts, pies, and tarts! It can be made entirely by hand, and doesn't even need to be rolled out for filling your pie or tart pans!
This Fantastically Easy Shortcrust Pastry is a Baking Basic That Makes at Home Baking a Snap!
A super tasty pie or tart crust like this can make all the difference in home baked goods! Learning some of these basics like this shortcrust pastry, a butter pie crust or graham cracker crust makes homemade pie, tart, cheesecake or dessert baking a snap!
While you could use a food processor or stand mixer to make this easy tart crust, it is just as easy to make by hand. Plus, it's easy to overwork your shortcrust pastry in a stand mixer. This simple method is still the best for tender, crumbly crust perfection!
🥧 What is a Shortcrust Pastry?
A shortcrust pastry is a simple pastry dough made of flour (usually all-purpose flour, but sometimes cake flour is also used), butter (or fat like lard, or a combination of butter and a fat), and egg or cold water to bind them together.
It doesn't take much to whip this pastry dough up, just some pantry staples and you're n your way to making impressive desserts!
- All-Purpose Flour - The bulk of your pastry crust. Flour is the largest component in the ingredients, and what will hold the tart shape together.
- Butter - Unsalted is recommended, however, salted butter can also be used. Just be sure to omit the additional salt in the recipe.
- Sugar - A touch of sweetness for dessert shells. If you'd like to make a savory tart, simply skip the sugar in the recipe.
- Egg - Dual purpose! The egg is both a binding agent for this tart dough, but it also adds a wonderful amount of richness.
- Salt - Just a bit of salt is all it takes to highlight all of the baked tart shell flavors.
- Vanilla Extract - Perfect in sweet pastry dough, but another ingredient that can be omitted when making a savory version. Other extract flavors can also be used, select a flavor that will compliment your recipe. Almond extract is my personal favorite!
🔪 Step-by-Step Instructions
Start your shortcrust out in a large mixing bowl. Beat the room temperature butter until softened. Then add the sugar and continue to beat the butter mixture until creamy and light.
In a small bowl, combine the vanilla with a beaten egg. Gradually add the egg and vanilla into the beaten butter until just combined.
Add the salt to a small or medium-sized bowl with the all-purpose flour, and stir to combine. The flour can be added to the butter mixture all at once, then combined until it just comes together.
Do not overwork the pastry dough as it activates the gluten in the flour. Too much gluten in the flour results in a pastry that is neither flaky nor crumbly in texture.
Your shortcrust pastry dough just needs to reach a crumbled appearance, as long as you can gather it into a ball to wrap and refrigerate. If you want to roll out your dough, you can add a drizzle (up to a tablespoon portion) of ice-cold water if needed.
Once you have the crumbled texture in your pastry dough, you can gather it into a ball in the same bowl used for mixing (without transferring it to a work surface) or on a clean working surface.
Gather the dough up and form a ball. Then wrap the ball with plastic cling film wrap and flatten the dough into a disc for chilling in the refrigerator or freezer.
Chill the dough in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to an hour, or in the freezer for only 10 - 20 minutes. Once the dough is firm, it is ready to shape into your baking pan, pie pan, or tart dish.
Filling A Pie Or Tart Pan
Choose your baking dish (8 - 9 inch pie pan, tart pan, mini pans, etc). Pick a tart pan or baking dish that suits your desired dessert and that works best.
I prefer metal tart pans with a removable bottom for ease of popping my baked tart shortcrust pastry out.
Grease your baking dish with non-stick baking spray, one that has the oil and flour combined. Or butter the baking pan and coat with flour.
With this loosely crumbled dough (without adding water), I have simply broken a few chunks of my chilled pastry dough and flattened them to form the bottom of my tart crust.
Use your fingers to press the bottom down into an even layer, and up the sides of the pan until firmly in place.
The sweet shortcrust pastry dough can also be rolled out until approximately ¼ inch in thickness or to a diameter of 10-11 inches (a few inches excess of your baking dish).
Transfer the Dough
Transfer the pastry dough by rolling it onto your rolling pin or folding it over and lifting it over the baking pan. Unroll or unfold gently, and let the dough settle loosely into the baking dish.
Press the pastry dough into the baking pan gently but firmly, without stretching the shortcrust. Letting the dough fall into place without stretching will help to keep the shortcrust pastry dough from shrinking while baking.
Once your tart pan is filled, use either a rolling pan rolled across the top of the tart pan (one side to the other) or a sharp knife to trim the excess dough above the edges. Then use a fork to poke holes across the bottom of the crust, this is to 'dock' the crust.
The holes will allow space for filling as the crust puffs and expands while baking.
Chill the Dough
Wrap your filled pan with the sweet shortcrust pastry dough in plastic cling film wrap and chill it again. I prefer and suggest placing the pan into your freezer for about 15 minutes while the oven preheats to 350ºF (175ºC).
Place a baking sheet in the oven to preheat as well, you will want to place your tart pan or baking dish onto the preheated baking sheet. Using a baking sheet in this way will help form a beautifully crisp bottom crust (and catch any overflow from liquid or fruit fillings).
Blind Bake the Pie or Tart Dough
Before baking your sweet shortcrust pastry dough, remove it from the freezer and pull a sheet of parchment paper or aluminum foil out that will extend beyond the filled edges of the tart.
Leaving excess makes the removal of the pie weights, beans, or rice easier once the blind baking is done. Use enough of the pie weights, or whatever you are using as weights, to hold down the pastry dough while baking.
Bake the weighted pastry crust at 350ºF (175ºC) for 15 minutes set on the center rack in the center of your oven. The dough should be about half-baked when ready to remove from the oven. The parchment paper or aluminum foil will peel back from the tart crust when done blind baking.
Depending on what you are making, you can continue on to filling your tart crust now or finish baking the crust until golden and crisp. Your pastry crust will be done baking completely in about 10 - 15 minutes more baking time after the blind baking stage.
Sweet Shortcrust Pastry
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup unsalted butter (softened, at room temperature)
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 large egg (beaten)
- ⅛ tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract (or almond extract)
Mixing the Dough
- In a large mixing bowl, or the bowl of your stand mixer, beat the butter until softened. Add the sugar next and continue to beat until light and fluffy.
- Gradually incorporate the egg into your beaten butter and sugar.
- Add the salt to a small bowl with the flour, stir to mix it in. Then add the flour to the buttery egg mixture, all at once. Combine until the flour is incorporated and you have a loose crumbled texture.
- In the bowl, or turned out onto a clean working surface, gather the crumbled texture dough together and form into a ball. Wrap with plastic cling film wrap and flatten into a disc shape.
- Chill the dough, either by refrigerating the wrapped dough for 30 minutes to an hour, or by placing the dough in your freezer. Chill in the freezer for only 10-20 minutes, or until the dough is firm (which will depend on the thickness of your formed disc).
Filling A Tart Pan
- Choose a tart pan that will work best. Grease or coat the 8-9 inch tart pan with non-stick baking spray (oil and flour combination spray). *My preferred tart pan is metal, that also has a removable bottom. However, this sweet shortcrust pastry dough will form into any shape pan.
- Rolled Method: The dough can be rolled into an even layer about 10-11 inches in diameter, then transferred carefully over the tart pan. Allow the dough to loosely fill the tart pan, try to stretch the dough as little as possible to prevent shrinking while baking. Use your fingers to firmly press the dough into place along the pan edges.Pressed Method: The dough can be spread in the pan using your fingers. Pat the dough until it has an even bottom layer and sides are firmly pressed into place.
- Trim the filled pastry edge or excess, either using a rolling pin (rolled over the top of the tart pan from one side to the other) or a sharp knife. Use a fork to prick, or 'dock,' the shortcrust pastry dough. Doing this helps to leave space for filling as the pastry crust swells and puffs during baking.
- Once the dough is filled into the pan, trimmed and docked, cover it with plastic cling film and chill again. Place in the freezer for about 15 minutes while your oven preheats to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for blind baking. *You should place a sheet pan in the preheating oven for putting the tart pan on during blind baking as well.
- Remove the chilled pastry crust and cut a sheet of aluminum foil or parchment paper that is larger than your pie or tart pan. *Leave excess edges for ease of removal while the baked crust is still warm/hot. Fill the lined shortcrust pastry with pie weights, dried beans or rice. Use enough of whatever you're using as weights to hold down the paper and keep the dough from puffing while baking.
- Bake the weighted shortcrust pastry dough on the preheated baking sheet in the center of your oven at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 15 minutes, or until the dough is about half-baked. *The parchment paper or aluminum should lift away easily, without sticking to the dough, when at this partially baked point.
Angela is an at home chef that developed a passion for all things cooking and baking at a young age in her Grandma's kitchen. After many years in the food service industry, she now enjoys sharing all of her family favorite recipes and creating tasty dinner and amazing dessert recipes here at Bake It With Love!