How They Made It: Baking Short Crust Pastry at Lallybroch
Welcome back to our occasional series, “How They Made It,” where we explore the food and drink of Outlander. This time we’re back in Jenny’s kitchen making short crust pastry tarts with her and Mrs. Crook. Slainté!
One of the many things I love about the Outlander-verse is how we fans find ways to express our passion for the novels and STARZ show through our interests and hobbies. A quick Facebook search will yield an abundance of jewelry, knitted & crocheted items, signs and signposts, and (close to my heart) blogs and recipes (like mine). Many of these ventures are sanctioned by Diana Gabaldon herself, and sometimes she even contributes to them. Outlander Kitchen, the Official Outlander Companion Cookbook, is one such venture. Theresa Carle-Sanders’ book (and accompanying website) is a love letter to the novels and the food they inspire. I have made many of the tasty dishes between its covers. Since this is a “How they made it” post, I thought we’d tackle short crust pastry, one of the basic culinary building blocks that Jenny at Lallybroch would be able to make in her sleep (and with the number of children running around, I wouldn’t be surprised if she did!).
Short crust pastry is the basis for many tarts and pies, both sweet and savory. It’s sturdier and more forgiving than basic pie crust because the dough has egg yolk in it to bind it. Yes, you lose some of the flakiness that traditional pie crust provides, but sometimes the trade-off is worth it. Remember the Hare Pie Jenny made for Jamie when he was still hiding out in the cave in Voyager? That dish probably had a short crust pastry as a base — the stew filling would benefit from the sturdiness of the pastry. Not only would Jenny have made short crust, but I’m sure Mrs. Fitz at Leoch and Jared’s chef in Paris would have used the same technique for many of their tarts and stuffed pastries.
Mini tarts are the younger sister to the full-size version — cute, two-bite treats that are perfect for parties. I recently made these sweetened tart shells using the recipe from the Outlander Kitchen cookbook, then filled half with homemade lemon curd and the rest with dark chocolate ganache.
Here then is Theresa’s version for Short Crust Pastry. As is usually the case, my comments are in italics.
(adapted from Outlander Kitchen, the Official Outlander Companion Cookbook, pg 27)
Makes one 11-inch crust or two 8-inch crusts or 48 mini crusts
- 3 1/3 cups (15 oz, 420g) all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar (optional, for sweet uses)
- 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 cup (8 oz, 230g, 2 sticks) butter, cold
- ½ cup (110ml) ice water
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice (or apple cider vinegar)
By hand: Stir together the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Grate the butter into the flour and work it in with your fingertips until the butter is reduced to pea-sized lumps, and the flour is the colour of cornmeal. Make a well in the bottom of the bowl. Whisk together the ice water, egg yolk and lemon juice. Pour the liquid mixture into the well and use your fingertips to bring the dough together into a shaggy ball.
In a food processor: Combine flour, sugar and salt in the bowl. Pulse three times to combine. Cut the butter into ½-inch cubes, and scatter into the flour. Pulse 5 or 6 times, until you have mostly pea-sized lumps. Whisk together the ice water, the egg yolk and lemon juice. Add to the bowl and pulse 5 more times.
In a stand mixer: Sift the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of the mixer. Cut the butter into small cubes and add to the bowl, mixing until the butter is mostly integrated and the mixture resembles lumpy sand. Whisk together the ice water, egg yolk, and lemon juice. Pour the liquid into the bowl with the mixer running on low until the dough just comes together.
To continue: Pour the dough and any loose flour from your bowl on to a lightly floured pastry mat or counter, and knead quickly and lightly into a smooth ball. Divide the dough in half and then form into two 1-inch thick discs. Wrap tightly and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Store in the fridge for up to 2 days, or in the freezer for up to 1 month.
To roll out chilled dough:
- Lightly dust the counter with flour. Use even pressure to roll the dough out from the center in all 4 compass directions, north, south, east and west (the dough will be cold…expect an arm workout!)
- Turn and loosen the dough occasionally as you continue to roll the pastry (keep the pastry mat or counter lightly floured so the dough doesn’t stick). Shape into a circle or square that is an even ¼-inch thick (about the height of two stacked quarters), unless otherwise directed in the recipe
- Try not to roll off the edge of the dough
- Cut out shapes as directed or roll the pastry lightly up onto the rolling pin and transfer to a tart pan or pie plate
To make the mini tarts: (my notes)
- Use a 2½ inch round cutter to cut out the circles
- Lay the dough circle flour side down over the hole in the muffin pan
- Lightly flour the end of the tamping tool, then press the tamping tool over the circle of dough into the well of the muffin cup, wiggling it slightly to release
- Cut out as many of the circles as you can before you re-roll the scraps
- Let the trays chill in the refrigerator for at least a half hour before baking. You don’t want slumping tart shells!
- Prick the do a couple of times before putting the trays in the oven (that way the shells won’t puff up)
- You can fill with a filling that needs to be baked as indicated in the recipe (like butter tarts or mini pumpkin pies) or blind bake at 375°F for 10-15 minutes (or until light golden brown) for chilled fillings (let the baked shells cool completely before filling)
You can make these mini treats, too! Don’t worry, the steps are easy to master (as I said, short pastry crust is quite forgiving)…just follow the tips and tricks provided, and you’ll soon have versatile tart shells of your own to fill as you please. However you express your love of Outlander, there will be many of us waiting to admire and share your passions.
What is your Outlander-inspired passion or hobby? We want to know and if you have a website be sure to include it in your comments!