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Delicate Shortcrust Pastry

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“This is a (slighty tweaked) recipe from Mariette Crafford, a South African food writer. It's the best shortcrust pastry I've ever tasted. It can be used raw, if you don't want to be bothered with blind baking, but I have found that blind baking does guarantee a more golden pastry colour. The cornstarch (known as cornflour here) practically guarantees a delicious, light pastry. You could add 1-2 teaspoons of the tiny black seeds inside cardamom pods to the dry ingredients, to lend a slightly exotic note. Use this pastry for either a sweet or savoury filling: you can add 1/2 cup superfine sugar if you like, and maybe increase the water. Please note that yield and servings will depend entirely on what you're using the pastry for, and the size of your tartlet tins. Mine are 10cm across, and 1/2 of the pastry yields 10 tartlets. The baking time will depend on whether you're making small tartlets (about 25 mins) or a large quiche (50 - 60 mins).”
20 tartlet tins

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. Sift together the flour, cornstarch (sugar if using) and salt.
  2. Rub in the butter until it resembles fine crumbs (can be done in a processor; use high speed).
  3. Dissolve the cream of tartar in the water, and add to the crumbly mixture. Again you'll need high speed to bring the mixture together into a dough.
  4. Turn out into a bowl if you used a processor.
  5. The pastry should be very easy to handle. If at all necessary, add a few drops more water, but be careful. When the consistency is right, it does not stick to your hands and feels silky soft but firm.
  6. Cover with clingfilm, and refrigerate until 15 minutes before you need it, or otherwise about 20 - 30 minutes.
  7. Mariette's instructions were to roll out between clingfilm, but that should not be necessary. I simply sprinkle flour on my granite counter and roll out 1/2 the pastry to start with -- easier to control.
  8. As you cut it to whatever shape you want, gather the bits together, press into a roll, and roll out again.
  9. Use dough to line loose-bottomed small pastry tins, or a 9 - 11 inch (26 - 28 cm) diameter loose-bottomed springform cake tin.
  10. Simply add your prepared filling, and bake at 350 deg. F (180 deg C) or as recipe indicates. It's best baked set on an oven tin with a dark finish, which ensures a well-baked bottom crust.
  11. Any leftover dough can be frozen.
  12. * For an exotic touch, add 2 teaspoons of the small black cardamom seeds to the dry mixture, at the start,.

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