Perfect pastry for pies and tarts of your choice. It's so much easier than you think.
People shy away from pastry. I think because there's all sorts of conspiracy theories out there about needing cold hands, over working, balancing the ratio of flour to water. All of this can be an issue if you're striving for perfection or working with a very buttery mix, but this slightly pared down recipe takes some of the equivocation out of it and let's face it, we're looking for fun in the process when baking with smalls, not perfection. So here's out patched up pastry pie. The perfect recipe for small bakers because it's so tactile and adaptable. Complete the whole bake together, make the pastry in advance of even make the whole pie and simply let the smalls decorate with the pastry scraps. However you choose to do it you'll be surprise how simple and delicious it is to make your own pastry.
1tbsp of water
1. Rub the butter and flour with your finger tips in a large bowl until you have a clumpy breadcrumb mixture. This can be a tricky action for little ones, so I like to do it in advance. You might find that it naturally starts to come together into a dough at this point. All the smalls need to do then is add the water and squash and squeeze until a nice smooth ball forms. If you feel you need a little bit more moisture, dribble it in 1/2 a tbsp at a time. You certainly shouldn't need any more than 3 tbsp for this mixture.
2. Flour a flat surface (a tuff spot is brilliant for this) and roll the pastry out as thin as you can encourage your children to. You might want to give it a couple of rolls at the end to finish it off. Thick pastry will take longer to cool and risk a soggy bottom. It only needs to be a couple of mm.
3. Lay the sheet of pastry over your chosen dish. Make sure it is well greased in advance. Gently press it into place and then trim off the excess. Patch any tears and then add in your filling.
4. Repeat step 2, rolling the remaining pastry to make a lid for your pie. Lay it over the top and gently press around the edges. Trim the scraps and cut a cross in the middle of the lid with a sharp knife to let the steam out when baking.
5. Use the remaining scraps (they will go further than you think) to make decorations for the top of the pie. Use small biscuit cutters to make shapes. The base of icing nozzles make good spots. If you have enough dough left over, you can roll it into sausages and form letters or patterns. Stick them to the top of the pie with a damp paint brush. Brush the top of the whole pie with a little milk and bake in the oven on 180° for 35 minutes or until the pie is turning golden and hot all the way through.
You can reduce or increase these amounts as needed depending on what you are making. Just keep the ratio of double flour to butter the same. There's no sugar in this recipe, so it's perfect for savoury pies or pies with an extra sweet filling. I add butter and sugar to fruit pie fillings, so I quite like a simpler pastry. That said, if I'm making something for a dinner party or what have you I add 2 tbsp golden caster sugar and increase the butter by 50g.
We used apples and blackberries gathered from our village green to make this pie. We made it in a 22cm flan dish as my proper pie dish got lost in the move. I use the same process for fruit pie as I do for crumbles, so the method below should work for any combo you like up to about 400g of fruit.
Pop the fruit, 30g butter, 30g muscavado sugar and 1/4 tsp cinnamon in a pan and heat until everything is melted and the fruit is sitting in a nice syrupy sauce. Take off the heat and cover with a lid until you're ready to add it to your pie. It will thicken a little in this time to just the right consistency.