Shortcrust pastry: recipes, nutritional properties and role in the diet

alla ferrarese - a single salty dish similar to a pie, precisely covered with shortcrust pastry, full of macaroni mashed with white sauce, béchamel and truffle.

Those of shortcrust pastry are very caloric and high in fat recipes. They do not have a precise classification in the VII fundamental groups of foods and possess promiscuous nutritional characteristics - conferred by flour, eggs and fats of animal origin. Due to the presence of useful factors such as vitamins and minerals, it is undeniable that they boast a very high nourishing power. On the other hand, they cannot be included in the dietary therapy of obese subjects or those suffering from metabolic diseases - such as type 2 diabetes mellitus or hypercholesterolemia - celiac disease and lactose intolerance - if it contains butter.

In principle, it could be defined that the pastry dough contains mainly:

  • Flour: type 00 of soft wheat; some use wholemeal or inulin-enriched ones for diet recipes
  • Seasoning fat: of animal origin, solid and mainly saturated, such as butter or lard. Few variants are based on margarine or vegetable oil
  • Granulated sugar: granular table sugar, such as white beet or brown cane. Some prefer stevia as a natural sweetener
  • Egg yolk: usually hen's, with medium size, but goose, guinea fowl, turkey, duck, quail and ostrich are fine too - logically, proportioning the doses
  • Aroma: it can be grated lemon peel, vanilla bean or vanillin, bitter cocoa etc.
  • Fine salt

Note: some enrich it with a pinch of chemical yeast or sodium bicarbonate, to rise slightly, making it softer and lighter.

Light shortcrust pastry

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soft wheat, refined and not very "strong". Specifically, it is recommended to use a 00 (white) with a STRENGTH> 90 or between 90 and 160; Manitoba flour is not suitable for the preparation of shortcrust pastry.

Note: strength is a parameter obtained from the correlation between the toughness index and the extensibility index, which can be framed on a numerical scale that includes from <90 to 370; the unit of measure symbol is "W".

  1. Fats: the fats used for the shortcrust pastry are solid in refrigeration and some even at room temperature. The favorite ingredient is certainly butter, responsible for the typical structure of the cooked shortcrust pastry aroma. There is no shortage of butter substitutions with lard or margarine. The latter is cholesterol-free but, following the hydrogenation process, with the same saturated fat content; it also tends to be more caloric, because it is low in water. Lard is more caloric than butter but can be used in lower quantities than butter (-15%); in this case the mixture may require the use of a small quantity of water or milk, or in doses such as to reach the same weight as the butter. The shortcrust pastry fats must have a solid consistency, therefore cold, at the time of processing; melted butter tends to activate the glutinous network and, like oil, does not allow to reach the ideal consistency for the dough.
  2. Sugar: leaving aside the use of sweeteners other than soluble carbohydrates, the sugar most used in the production of shortcrust pastry is certainly granular sucrose - white table granulated. However, we must not forget that the carbohydrate with the greatest sweetening power is fructose, also "it is available in granular form, a characteristic that would allow the use of much lower quantities than sucrose (-33%).
  3. Yolks: the egg yolk is an essential ingredient, because it gives the dough an intense yellow hue - thanks to the presence of carotenoids - it allows to emulsify the fats obtaining a homogeneous compound - thanks to the lecithins - and to increase the hydration favoring the malleability of the dough. The most used product is undoubtedly hen's egg yolk, even if the alternatives are different; all egg yolks are suitable for this purpose, for example: goose, duck, turkey, guinea fowl and even ostrich or quail. Furthermore, it is important to underline that, in the field of collective catering, the use of eggs or their components exclusively pasteurized (brik) or freeze-dried has recently been imposed. It is useless to specify how much a similar choice, albeit mandatory, can negatively affect the quality of the food; therefore, since it is a recipe "to be cooked at high temperatures", at home it could be legitimate to prefer fresh ones.

Note: it is essential to use only, or clearly, the yolk rather than the egg white, to obtain the right consistency of the mixture. The albumen, besides providing an excessive quantity of water - which would compromise the mixing phase - confers an excessive compactness to the product reducing its friability instead desirable; to overcome this last drawback, the egg whites could be whipped until stiff - with not a few difficulties in incorporating the rest of the ingredients - but the result would be very far from that of a traditional pastry.

  1. Aroma: the classic aromas of shortcrust pastry are grated lemon peel or lemon essence in drops and vanilla bean or vanillin or vanilla essence in drops. Others less used are bitter cocoa and coffee - not ground, but soluble. Many believe that the use of lemon is essential to compensate for the fatness of the dough, or to lighten the flavor of the egg yolks, balancing the recipe. Likewise, pure vanilla is speculated to be able to amplify the fragrance of butter and fresh yolk. The choice of one or the other aroma would therefore depend on the result to be obtained. In my opinion it is purely a matter of taste and the choice of one or the other aroma depends exclusively on the final use of the shortcrust pastry.
  2. Salt: the use of fine salt is minimal but decisive; it has the function of counteracting the sweet taste of sugar, enhancing its sweetening potential. Its presence does not compromise the consistency of the shortcrust pastry, which is why it would also be possible to avoid it " use.
  3. Extra ingredients: in the production of "special" shortcrust pastries there are many extra ingredients; the most common are: oil seeds or dried fruit - pistachios, walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, pine nuts, etc. - and chocolate in pieces.
  4. Raising agents: as anticipated, the use of chemical yeast or sodium bicarbonate is totally at the discretion of the pastry chef, but is not part of the traditional recipe.

Protein shortcrust pastry without butter

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, 60g of egg yolks, 5g of salt.

Method: using a whisk, whip butter and sugar, then add the egg yolks and finally the sifted flour. Refrigerate to rest 60-120 "before use.

Shortcrust pastry - version 3

Ingrediants: 750g of flour, 550g of butter, 230g of sugar, 50g of egg yolks, 1 orange, vanillin.

Method: using a whisk, whip butter and sugar, then add the egg yolks, grated orange zest and vanilla. Add the sifted flour and knead for a few minutes. Refrigerate to rest 60-120 "before use.

Shortcrust pastry - version 4 (for pies)

Ingrediants: 1 kg of flour, 500g of butter, 250g of sugar, 160g of egg yolks, 10g of salt, 100ml of water, 1 lemon.

Method: sift the flour, mix it with the sugar and grated lemon zest. Form a fountain with the powder; in the center place the softened butter and the egg yolks with the water. Work the dough as little as possible and place in the refrigerator to rest 60-120 "before use.

Shortcrust pastry with almonds - version 5

Ingrediants: 1kg of flour, 400g of peeled almonds, 400g of butter, 250g of sugar, 60g of egg yolks, 2 whole eggs, 10g of salt, 1 lemon and possibly milk to taste.

Method: finely chop the almonds with half the sugar and add them to the sifted flour. Using a whisk, whip the butter and the remaining sugar, then add the egg yolks and eggs, the grated lemon zest and finally the flour with the almonds. Refrigerate to rest 60-120 "before use.

Shortcrust pastry for pastries - version 6

Ingrediants: 1kg of flour, 500g of butter, 400g of sugar, 200g of whole eggs, 150g of egg yolks, 1 lemon.

Method: with the use of a whisk, whip butter, sugar and grated lemon zest; continuing to whisk, then add the yolks and whole eggs. Incorporate the sifted flour until a mixture is obtained that can be worked with the pastry bag .

Shortcrust pastry for pastries - version 7

Ingrediants: 1kg of flour, 700g of butter, 300g of sugar, 80g of almond or walnut paste, 60g of egg yolks, 10g of salt, 1 lemon.

Method: soften the butter with the sugar and salt and, separately, work the almond paste with the egg yolks. Combine the compounds together with the sifted flour and grated lemon zest. Place in the fridge and let it rest for 60-120 "before use.

Shortcrust pastry with chocolate - version 8

Ingrediants: 650g of flour, 450g of butter, 200g of sugar, 50g of cocoa, 60g of egg yolks, 2 whole eggs.

Method: using a whisk, whip butter and sugar, then add the egg yolks, whole eggs and grated orange zest. Combine the sifted flour together with the cocoa and knead for a few minutes. Refrigerate to rest 60-120 "before use.

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