Pâte sucrée (sweet shortcrust pastry) & Afternoon Tea

Diamond Wedding Tea

Mum and Dad have recently celebrated their Diamond (60th) Wedding Anniversary. As well as sending them to a local restaurant for a meal, we decided to have an 'afternoon tea'.

For me, afternoon tea is lots of small patisserie and cake items; oh, and some 'token' sandwiches beforehand. I'm not one for scones and cream as part of 'afternoon tea'; they're for other occasions when they can be enjoyed on their own. Now, we're not 'The Savoy', or even 'The Great British Bake Off', so I choose just a small selection of simple things: individual lemon meringue pies, fruit tarts, and meringues, along with cup cakes made by my daughter Hannah. The meringue uses up the egg whites left after the yolks have been used for the pastry and lemon meringue filling. Savouries were cucumber, egg, ham and cheese sandwiches, some even had the crusts cut off!

'Ere, how come when it's lemon meringue it's a pie, but when it's fruit, it's a tart?

Never mind, what I do know is that with pies or tarts, it's all about the pastry - it needs to be strong enough not to fall apart, but 'melt-in-the-mouth' when you eat it. My method may not be the 'proper' way, but it works and results in a pastry case that's more like shortbread than pastry.

Pastry cases

To be honest, it's a bit of a pig to make. It's very short and difficult to handle. To make it successfully, don't over-mix the dough, don't add too much liquid, don't cool the dough too much, and lastly but very importantly, don't over-cook it.

I used deep tins for these cases and even my largest pastry cutter was too small, so I ended up using the tin that my pastry cutters came in to cut the dough! I used plenty of flour when rolling the dough and rolled it thicker than I normally would - maybe 3mm - 4mm. And, I didn't trim the pastry once it was in the tin.

Instead of using baking parchment and baking beans, I use silicone muffin cases with another tin on top when I baked it blind. It's far quicker, simpler, and leaves a nice pattern on the inside of the cases.

Line the pastry with silicone muffin cases
Baking the cases 'blind'

I baked these in my fan oven for 10 - 12 minutes at 160°C (320°f). They were soft when I took them out of the oven giving me the chance to trim the tops with a pastry cutter. They get firmer/crisper as they cool.

Cooked pastry cases being trimmed

I left the cases for a while to 'set up' before transferring them to a cooling rack.

The ingredients are:

8oz (225g) Plain Flour
3oz (85gm) Granulated Sugar
2½oz (70g) Lard
2oz (55gm) Butter
2 Egg yolks
up to 1 Tablespoon Milk
A pinch of salt

I make this in a food processor, if I were to make it by hand I'd use caster sugar.

I grind the sugar on its own to make it finer, then add the flour, salt, and fats, and process it until it resembles breadcrumbs. Most recipes say: "till it resembles breadcrumbs", but I always think that it looks more like damp sand! I then add the egg yolks and a teaspoon of milk and process it using the 'pulse' setting until it starts to come together. It may need another couple of teaspoons of milk, and further processing, to get it to form a ball. I then put it into a food bag and leave it in the fridge for 20 minutes or so. However, I remove it from the fridge a while before I want to use it. It's more prone to cracking if you roll it straight from the fridge.

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There are eight comments

Norman Christie

What a good idea for pastry cases!

I have been following your blog since I started making bacon and sausages about 9 months ago. Today, I made Toulouse Lautrec sausages which are currently resting in the fridge.



Norman Christie, - 20-09-’14 17:32

I’m glad it’s been of help Norman. Please let me know what you think of the Lautrecs. My family like them, but I’m not 100% happy with them.

I’ve been meaning to have a play with the recipe – It’d be useful to have your view on them.

Phil, - 22-09-’14 15:02
Norman Christie

Phil, the Lautrecs are fantastic either bbqed or fried.

Norman Christie, - 14-10-’14 14:02

Thanks Norman.

Phil, - 14-10-’14 20:59

WRT “‘Ere, how come when it’s lemon meringue it’s a pie, but when it’s fruit, it’s a tart?”

Pies have lids, tarts don’t. The meringue classes as a lid, even though it is not pastry so it is a pie (think of the name as an abbreviation of “lemon curd pie with a meringue top crust”)

Paul, - 22-09-’15 22:31

Thanks Paul, that sounds sensible.

Phil, - 23-09-’15 21:30

What a fantastic idea for baking blind! I stumbled upon your blog when I was looking for a recipe for soft rolls and again, Fantastic! Always turn out perfectly. Thank you for sharing.

Ann-Marie, - 05-06-’16 13:35

I’m glad you think so Ann-Marie. I hope that you also enjoyed the rolls.

Phil, - 10-06-’16 11:17

I'm somewhat incapacitated at present so replies may take some time. Please post urgent enquiries at the www.sausagemaking.org forum.

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