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If you look for a quick, delicious sweet shortcrust pastry recipe, here it is! It’s a foolproof recipe, super easy to work with and versatile, absolutely perfect for sweet pies, tarts, tartlets and cookies.
And you can make it in seconds by using a food processor!
Making a pastry dough from scratch can be challenging, so many things can go wrong: it can be too crumbly, too sticky, or it falls apart. I tried, and I failed miserably in the past.
But just when I decided that making pie crust dough by hand wasn’t exactly my thing, I found – and fell in love – with this French method.
This technique is called “Sablage” (from the French verb sabler which means “to make sandy”).
And don’t let the posh French word intimidate you, because this method is easier than you think and it’s based on a few simple rules:
- The dry ingredients are mixed until they create fine crumbs that resemble sand.
- The liquid (water or egg) is added at the end to bring the dough together.
- The method requires cold butter and it’s fast.
The best part? You can also combine the ingredients by using a food processor which is faster, easier, and gives a consistent result every single time.
And making a shortcrust pastry with a food processor takes me seconds, from start to finish… and it never fails. I combine cold butter with the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. I add an egg to brings the dough together, and it’s done.
Have a look at the step-by-step photos below, and you’ll see that the homemade pastry has never been so easy!
List of the ingredients
- All-purpose flour
- Unsalted butter
- Powdered sugar
- Vanilla extract or lemon zest
How to make shortcrust pastry
(Note: this is a quick description with step-by-step photos, the full recipe is at the bottom of the page)
- Place cold diced butter and flour in the food processor bowl. I’ve been using this model for more than 10 years now, and it works great!
- Process for about 7 seconds until the mixture resembles “sand” (see photo).
- Add the sugar and repeat (3 seconds are fine).
- Finally add the egg.
- Process for about 4-5 seconds just until the pastry dough comes together. Do not overprocess.
- Transfer the dough onto a piece of cling film, wrap it and refrigerate.
- Important: shortcrust pastry dough must be always chilled in a fridge after making. Chilling prevents shrinking when the crust is in the oven and helps to maintain its structure as it bakes.
Recipe notes & tips
Sweet shortcrust pastry ingredients
Flour: unbleached all-purpose flour (aka plain flour) works just fine for pie crusts. This soft flours contains less protein and forms a workable, elastic dough making a shortcrust pastry that is crumbly, rather than tough.
Butter: good-quality butter has the best flavor and it forms light, flaky layers in pie crust. And although I prefer to use vegetable oil for my cake recipes, the perfect shortcrust pastry recipe requires butter.
Sugar: for this sweet pastry dough I use powdered sugar (or icing sugar if you’re in the UK). It gives a smoother texture and a superior result than using caster sugar.
Egg: 1 whole egg is pretty foolproof, trust me. It provides the dough with structure and definitely makes the crust more compact and easier to roll out. That’s why between water and egg, I go for egg.
Flavoring: it’s pretty important when you make sweet tarts or pies. A touch of vanilla extract or some lovely lemon zest go so well with fruit, custard filling and jam. You can use both if you wish.
Note: although this sweet shortcrust pastry is perfect for tarts and sweet pies, it can make cookies too.
Tips to make the best shortcrust pastry!
Keep in mind these few golden rules to make a shortcrust pastry light, flaky and easy to work with:
- Fridge-cold butter is the key! If you have tiny little bits of butter in the dough rather than melted, they will melt creating air pockets once the crust is in the oven, and that will make the pastry deliciously flaky (not tough!)
- Work quickly. Over processing the mixture develops gluten in the flour which makes a cracker-like texture. This is why you should work the dough minimally.
- Chill the pastry dough, the longer the better! Resting in the fridge will minimise shrinkage during baking, but if you’re short on time just make sure it’s in the fridge long enough to firm up properly and become chilled (at least 60 minutes).
You can refrigerate the dough for up 2 days. Alternatively, you can freeze it for up to 2 months.
Looking for more sweet recipes?
Here are some of our favorite sweet recipes, they’re so delicious and sure to impress:
- Italian lemon ricotta cake
- Beetroot and chocolate cake
- Easy chocolate cake (vegan)
- Fig cookies
- Easy almond cookies
- Orange cake
If you make this shortcrust pastry, or if you have a question, let me know by leaving a comment. I would love to hear from you! x
- Food processor
- 2 cups (9oz/250 grams) plain/all purpose flour
- 9 Tbsp (4oz/ 125 grams) unsalted butter, diced and cold
- ¾ cup (3oz/75-80 grams) powdered sugar
- 1 medium-sized egg
- ¼ tsp vanilla extract
- ½ lemon zest (optional)
- Make the dough: Firstly, cut the butter into 1-inch/2 cm cubes. Place it on a plate and keep refrigerated until it's time to use it.
- Place the four and the cold-fridge butter in a food processor and process until the mixture resembles "sand". It takes less than 10 seconds.
- Add the powdered sugar and repeat for a few seconds.
- Add the egg, the vanilla extract or the lemon zest, and pulse just to bring the dough together. It takes a few seconds, make sure you don't overprocess.
- Wrap the sweet shortcrust pastry with cling film and refrigerate for 2 hours. After the chilling time, take the dough out of the fridge and let it sit on the counter to soften slightly, after a few minutes the shortcrust pastry is ready for your favorite recipe.
- Rolling out: Sprinkle work surface and dough with flour, dust the rolling pin too. If you use the dough to make a pie or a tart, roll out into round that's 27cm/10" large or large enough for your pan. Gently roll the pastry so it wraps around the rolling pin and unroll it over the cake pan. With a sharp knife, trim the edges of the pastry to fit the tart pan and place in the freezer until firm, about 20 minutes. After this second chilling time, you can use the sweet pastry dough in your favorite recipe.