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!
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Outlander fans’ expressions of passion for the show
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 – enriched pie crust
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.
How 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
How 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 dough 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!
Basic Short Crust Pastry
- kitchen scale
- pastry blender
- rolling pin
- 3-1/3 cups all-purpose flour, (14 oz, 397g)
- 1 Tbsp granulated sugar, optional (½ oz, 15g)
- 1½ tsp salt
- 1 cup butter, chilled, cut into small cubes (8 oz, 227g)
- ½ cup ice water, (4 oz, 113g)
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 tsp lemon juice, white vinegar, or apple cider vinegar
- Measure your ingredients using a kitchen scale. It's the most accurate and will give the most consistent results.
- In a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer or food processor), stir together the flour, sugar (if using), and salt. Toss in the butter and mix using a pastry blender until coarse, pea-sized crumbs appear.
- Whisk the ice water, egg yolk, and lemon juice or vinegar together. Add to the dough and mix until the dough just holds together (here you have to be flexible about the amount of water to add as the actual amount will depend on the humidity of the day). Squeeze a small amount of dough between your fingers and if it is very crumbly, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time (2 tablespoons maximum).
- Do not over mix the dough (you want to keep that butter cold and separate from the flour). Don't worry if the dough has a slight lemony or vinegary smell...that will dissipate during baking and/or be overwhelmed by the filling.
- Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and push together into a rough ball. Knead a few times to combine, then divide into two equal balls. Flatten each ball into a disc with smooth edges (no cracks), cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to overnight. If you refrigerate the dough for more than 30 minutes, you may have to rest it for a few minutes at room temperature before it will be soft enough to roll out.
- Lightly dust the counter with flour. Use even pressure to roll the dough out from the center in all four compass directions, north, south, east and west. Turn and loosen the dough occasionally as you continue to roll the pastry out into a circle or square shape that is an approximately 1/4-inch thickness, about the height of two stacked quarters (unless otherwise directed by your recipe).
- Continue with your recipe as directed.
Short crust pastry dough can be frozen after Step 5. Just defrost the dough overnight in the refrigerator before proceeding with Step 6.
The leftover egg white can be whisked with a teaspoon of water and a pinch of salt for use as an egg wash before par-baking. It won’t result in quite as golden a crust as a whole-egg wash, but it’s a great way to avoid waste.
Makes one 11-inch crust, two 8-inch crusts, or 48 mini crusts (using a 3-inch round cookie cutter). Did you make this recipe? Please share your pictures with the world on your social media…tag @outlandercast (on Instagram and Twitter) and use the hashtag #howtheymadeitoutlander. I can’t wait to see your creations!
Discovering Outlander after Season 1 first aired, Tammy quickly went down the rabbit-hole on social media and podcasts and found a world of like-minded fans who not only tolerated her obsession, but encouraged the madness! She combined her Outlander-inspired interest for scotch whisky with her continuing passion for baking and storytelling in her blog, Scotch & Scones…Explorations in a glass and in the oven. Joining the staff of Outlander Cast as the resident baker has brought Tammy full circle, from a podcast fan to a contributing writer. You can follow her on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest at @scotch_scones, and find her on Facebook at @scotchandsconesblog.