I am a Northern girl and I grew up on pasties and pies. My mum was a massive baker and would cook a batch of pies every couple of weeks, some to freeze, one to eat and some to go to work for with my Dad and Granddad. Pastry was never a thing to be feared in my home and thankfully it still isn't, for my mum passed on her recipe to me and I am going to share it with you, along with her hints and tips.
Now one of the big secrets is that you can mix up the crumb (fats and flour) in advance of your pastry making and keep it in the freezer for up to six months, so I tend to make a large batch and then use as and when. I actually think that the pastry is easy to make after the crumb has been in the freezer overnight or longer.
Ingredients (this will make 2 pies, but upscales very simply)
120g of butter
120g of Trex (or other shortening or lard)
pinch of salt
400g self raising flour
ice cold water (as needed)
Weigh out 400g of flour in a large bowl, then dice in to it your fats. Make sure they are very cold and are diced pretty small, by doing this you keep handling to a minimum, as warm hands melt the fat rather than rub it into the flour.
Tip - by adding the fats to the flour you can use it to keep the fats from sticking together.
If you have a food blender, now is the time to get it out and add your crumb mix to it an d pulse with a cutting blade in it.
If not then with cold hands rub the fats in to the flour, until it resembles a breadcrumb mixture.
Tip - by shaking the bowl all the large pieces of butter and Trex will come to the top making it easier to rub in,
Once everything is rubbed in, then place in a bag and pop in the freezer and leave until needed.
Tip - the crumb mix can remain frozen for up to six months
When you are ready to make the pastry, take out the amount you need and add some ice cold water and mix until it forms a dough (you will need less than you think, as the fats warm up and start to bring the pastry together).
The crumb mix having been in my freezer overnight
Stay tuned for the next post on rolling and blind baking, with more hints and tips.