The base to any good tart or pie is perfect shortcrust pastry and, luckily for us, it’s incredibly easy to make from scratch.

This is my simple sweet shortcrust pastry tart shell recipe using just 5 ingredients and made using a food processor for speed, it could barely be easier. You can easily adapt the recipe to use it for savoury dishes like quiche and meat pies too.

Closeup of a pastry tart shell on a floured worktop

What Is Shortcrust Pastry?

First of all, what exactly is shortcrust pastry anyway? Well, it’s a rich pastry dough used to make crispy and flaky pie and tart shells. It is used for both sweet and savoury dishes in everything from quiche to meat pie to fruit tarts.

There are a number of different types of shortcrust, all with fancy french names and slightly different ingredients and methods of combining them. My version is closest to what is called pâte sablee. Since I don’t even know how to pronounce that, we’ll just stick with your good old, easy to make sweet shortcrust pastry.

It also makes a fabulous pie or quiche pastry by omitting sugar and adding salt – see more below.

Ingredients In Sweet Shortcrust Pastry

Shortcrust pastry uses a combination of flour, sugar (for a sweet tart crust), butter, eggs and milk or water.

For savoury shortcrust, just omit the sugar in this recipe and add ½ teaspoon of salt.

How To Make Sweet Shortcrust Pastry

I use a food processor to make the recipe nice and quick. The other reason I like this method is so that the heat from my hands can’t melt the butter.

A hand holding some flour to show the texture.
  1. Mix together flour and icing (powdered) sugar in the food processor so it’s evenly dispersed.
  2. Add the butter and process just until the butter is in very small pieces and the mixture looks a bit like breadcrumbs.
  3. Add the yolk and process until dispersed.
Pastry dough in a food processor.
  1. With the processor running on low, slowly drizzle in the water until it starts clumping together.Test the dough by pressing it between your fingers – it should hold together.

This whole process takes less than 2 minutes.

Pastry dough being rolled out between two sheets of baking paper.
  1. The next step is to tip the pastry dough out and pull it together. My favourite way is to do this straight onto a sheet of baking paper, then use the sides of the baking paper to pull the dough together so that you don’t have to handle it too much.
  2. Wrap it and refrigerate for a minimum of half an hour (45 minutes to an hour is even better).
  3. Once chilled, roll the dough out to about 11 1/2 inches in diameter.
A sheet of pastry being pressed into a round tart tin.
  1. Remove the baking paper and drape the pastry over the rolling pin. Transfer it to your tart tin and lay the pastry into the tin. Press down into the corners and up against the sides.
  2. Prick the base all over with a fork. This process is called docking and it allows heat to rise through the pastry shell to keep the base flat. Chill again for 1/2 an hour. Freezing is even better.
A tart shell with baking paper and rice in it, ready to bake.
  1. Once the second chill is over, trim the edges off with a sharp knife.
  2. Lay a sheet of baking paper into the tart shell and fill with rice or pie weights. Bake for 25 minutes.

What is blind baking

Blind baking means baking a tart shell before adding the filling, either partially or completely (depending on how long you bake it).
This helps either when the filling could cause the base to become soggy (like the jam in this Strawberry Bakewell Tart) or when the filling won’t be baked like in this Fruit Custard Tart.

I always like to line the base of my tart tin to be super sure it won’t stick on the base.

Oh, and if you use rice or lentils, don’t throw them out. They can be stored once they’ve cooled and used time and time again for all your tart shells.

Can You Make Pastry Ahead Of Time?

Yes, shortcrust pastry dough can be made 2-3 days ahead and stored, wrapped well, in the fridge.

Can You Freeze Pastry Dough?

Just like my Danish pastry recipe, shortcrust pastry freezes well. Wrap it well in plastic wrap and freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight.

This way you can have batches ready to go for any special occasions, especially at times like Christmas or Thanksgiving when you need more time.

How Much Pastry Do I Need?

  • For tarts and quiche – This recipe makes enough shortcrust dough to cover the inside of an 9 inch fluted tart tin about 5mm thick, with a little overhang so you can trim it off easily. Perfect for tarts like this Fresh Peach Tart or this Passionfruit Tart
  • For pies – Use 1.5x this recipe for a thin crust 9 inch pie or double the recipe for a thicker crust. You will still have enough overhang to trim neatly and seal the edge around the lip of the tin. Leave the sugar out and add ½ teaspoon of salt for savoury pies like Mums Steak and Mushroom Pie.

Tips For Perfect Pastry

  • Keep ingredients cold – the crisp texture of the pastry is caused by the cold butter melting while baking and creating pockets of steam so it’s important to keep everything cold.
  • Don’t handle it too much – for two reasons. Firstly, the one above – you want to keep it cold and not warm it with your hands. Secondly, you don’t want to develop the glutens in the flour too much which comes with overhandling. Keep light hands and only pull it together as much as you need for it to stick together.
  • Don’t skip the chilling time – I think you’re seeing the trend here. When you chill the dough, it helps to get that butter nice and cold again and it also gives the glutens a chance to relax. My preference is around 45 minutes but 30 minutes will get you there.

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Birdseye view of a pastry tart shell on a floured worktop with a grey tea towel and rolling pin nearby.

So, now you know how to make the perfect shortcrust pastry tart shell, what recipe are you going to bake?

Recipes With Shortcrust Pastry

You can also FOLLOW ME me on Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook for more great recipes and tips.
Birdseye view of a pastry tart shell on a floured worktop with a grey tea towel and rolling pin nearby.

How To Make Shortcrust Pastry

4.43 from 7 votes
So you want to know how to make sweet shortcrust pastry and turn it into everything from mini tart shells to crostata and even apple pie crust? Whether you want a savoury or sweet pastry, all it takes is 5 everyday ingredients and a few sneaky tips and you’ll find them all here.

Ingredients

  • 195 g plain all purp flour
  • 2 ½ tablespoons icing powdered sugar (25g / 0.9oz) (notes 1)
  • 113 g unsalted butter cubed & chilled (¾ stick / 3oz)
  • 1 egg yolk from a large egg
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons cold / iced water

Instructions
 

  • Line the base of a 9 inch (base size) fluted tart tin with a removable base, with a baking paper circle. Set aside.
  • Place the flour, icing sugar and chilled butter into the bowl of a food processor. Blitz to a crumb-like texture. Pieces of butter should be visible but smaller than a grain of rice.
  • Add the egg yolk and blitz again until we’ll combined.
  • With the processor running, slowly drizzle in the water, just enough until it comes together into a dough.
  • Pull the pastry dough into a smooth ball – don’t knead it too much. Wrap in baking paper and chill for 15 minutes only (don’t skip chilling).
  • Gently and gradually roll the chilled dough out, between two sheets of baking paper, to about 27.5cm (11 inches) in diameter.
  • Flip the whole thing over, using the baking paper and peel back the baking paper then lay it back over the dough. Flip it back and gently peel away the top layer of paper. Sit your rolling pin in the centre and fold the closest half of pastry over the rolling pin. Peel back the paper and lift it. Transfer it up the tart tin and carefully unroll it again.
  • Don’t worry if the pastry breaks or has holes, you can press it together or patch it up as needed.
  • Gently nudge the pastry into all the corners, leaving any overhang at the top edges, then prick the base all over with a fork. Place a tart tray onto a baking tray (this just makes it easier to handle). Chill in the freezer for another half an hour. (Don’t skip chilling)
  • Preheat oven to 180C / 350F / 160C fan forced.
  • Trim the overhang off the pastry with a sharp knife. Lay a sheet of baking paper into the shell and fill with rice (or pie weights), nudging them into the corners.
  • Transfer to the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes then remove the baking paper and rice and bake a further 15 minutes. If the edges are browning too much, cover them with foil.

Notes

Equipment used: 8 inch fluted tart tin, pie weights
  1. I use a standard 20ml Australian tablespoon (= 4 teaspoons worldwide)
  2. All ovens vary – always test for doneness 3-5 minutes before the recipe suggests
  3. For best results, you should always weigh ingredients like flour and sugar. Kitchen scales are relatively cheap but if you can’t weigh the ingredients, use the spoon and level method (don’t scoop).
  4. For savoury pies and tarts, leave the sugar out and add ½ teaspoon of salt.
  5. Water can be substituted for the milk
  6. This cooking time is for a fully baked tart shell to add fillings that won’t be baked. If the tart shell is to be baked further with the filling, change the baking time to 15 minutes and 7 minutes respectively.
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