1) Your butter should be cold
2) Use iced or very cold water
3) Put the pastry in the freezer or fridge for 15 - 30 minutes before going in the oven
4) Do not over handle
5) Your oven must be preheated and hot – usually around 200oC – whatever the recipe says.
6) Put the pan in the middle of the oven
7) If you are using a good quality non stick muffin pan you do not need to grease the pan
If you are like me and don’t enjoy rolling out pastry, there is a way around this for most recipes. This will not work for something like a bacon and egg pie, but works well for small pies. Some people might frown….but personally I find it works well and there is absolutely no wastage or overhandling of the off cuts which you would usually combine to reroll and use.
Pastry Cases in Muffin Pans
Think about how large you want your pie or tart. For sweet tarts I like the very small size. Savoury cases would be the medium size or large size muffin pans.
Once your pastry is mixed in the kitchen whiz you can pinch off amounts big enough to cover the base and sides of the hole. Press it all into the base then ease the batter from the middle up the sides, taking it slightly above the top as the pastry will shrink a bit in cooking. Press the top so the edge is neat and upright…..you will get better with practice. Be sure the pastry is evenly spread.
Once all the holes in the pan are filled with the pastry put the pan into the freezer or if it is too big in the fridge. It will need to be 30 minutes in the fridge so it cools right down and the pastry should be hard to the touch.
It depends what you tart or pie is going to be filled with whether you pour in the filling before putting into the oven, or bake blind.
If you are filling before baking only three quarters fill the pastry shell.
Larger Fruit Pies
If you want to have a fruit pie that has a pastry base and sides and a lovely crunchy pastry topping you will like this.
It doesn’t matter whether you are using a round or square pie dish. Use about 2/3rds of the pastry mixture and cover the base then the sides.While you are working make the remaining mixture into a ball, wrap in cling wrap and put into the freezer.
Start in the middle of the base of your dish and working quickly so as not to over handle take a small dollop and ease the mixture over the base to make an even coating,. Keep adding more, keeping the thickness around the same ubtil the base is covered. Then work around the sides. I find it easier to have a thick layer near the edges and ease the pastry up the side. You can fill in any empty gaps. Once the shell is completely covered place the covered dish in the freezer or fridge.
Once the pastry is cold and hard to the touch you can fill and bake. You may want to bake this blind, or if it is to have a fruit filling such as apple, just fill with the sliced fruit level with the top of the dish.
Take the now hard ball of pastry and working quickly grate the pastry over the fruit so it is completely covered. This makes a lovely crisp top to your pie and looks great.