Sweet Pastry

The zest in Rachel Allen's recipe creates a subtle, lemony pastry that's ideal for fruity tarts. Use orange instead if you prefer...
By Rachel Allen
Sweet Pastry
  • Rating:
  • Serves: makes 475g of pastry
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Effort: easy

Ingredients

  • 250 g plain flour
  • 125 g butter, diced and softened
  • 75 g caster sugar
  • 1/2-1 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 lemon, grated zest only (optional)

Tips and Suggestions

Pastry freezes perfectly when it's raw, so it's handy to have some in the freezer. If the pastry is completely frozen going into the oven, and is not in any way too wet, you can actually cook it without the paper and beans. But if the pastry is not frozen, or is too wet (i.e. with too much egg), it will fall down the sides of the tin while it is cooking.
The reason for baking the pastry blind is to prevent the tart from getting a soggy base - so when making a tart with a 'custard' filling (as in eggs and milk or cream), it's essential. But for other tarts such as a Chocolate and Pear Tart, baking blind doesn't seem to be necessary.

Method

1. Place the flour, butter, sugar and the lemon rind (if using) in a food processor. Blend for a few seconds, then add half the beaten egg, and continue whizzing. You might need to add a little more egg, but don't add too much -- it should just come together. Alternatively, if making by hand, rub the butter into the flour, add the sugar and lemon rind, then bring it together with the egg.

2.With your hands, flatten out the ball of dough till it is about 3cm thick. Wrap or cover it, and place it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes (it will keep well for a couple of days).

3. Preheat your oven to 180°C/gas 4.

4. To roll, take the pastry out of the fridge and place between 2 sheets of cling film. Using a rolling pin, roll it out until no thicker than 1/4cm thick, and preferably even thinner. Make sure to keep it round, if the tin is round, and large enough to line the base and sides of the tin.

5. Removing just the top layer of cling film, place the pastry upside down (cling-film side facing up) in the clean tart tin. Press the pastry into the edges, cling film still attached, and, using your thumb, 'cut' the pastry on the edge of the tin. At this stage, it should look quite neat. Remove the cling film and pop the pastry in the freezer for at least 10 minutes (it would keep for weeks like this in the freezer).

6. Bake blind by lining the pastry with greaseproof/parchment paper when cold. Fill with baking beans, or dried pulses (you can use these over and over), and bake for 15-20 minutes, until the pastry feels dry to the touch.

7. Remove the paper and beans, brush with a little left-over beaten egg and return to the oven for 2 minutes. Take out of the oven, and set pastry aside in the tin while you prepare the filling. (This can easily be made a day in advance, and covered until you need it.)

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