Many people consider pastry difficult to make and unhealthy. This recipe makes shortcrust pastry that can be used for sweet or savoury pies, tarts, crusts and many other baked products. It calls for monounsaturated vegetable oil in place of the usual butter or shortening, meaning that the pastry is healthier for the heart than traditional recipes. The pastry is very easy to make as exact measurements of the ingredients are not necessary.
First you will need to make "self-raising flour." Blend a pinch of salt and 1 tsp of baking powder per cup of flour. Around 2 to 3 cups of self-raising flour will make enough pastry for a large pie crust. Make more than enough self-raising flour and store the remainder.
In a large bowl, pour 2 parts vegetable oil to 1 part cold water. Around 1 cup of oil and 1/2 a cup of water will make enough pastry for a large pie crust.
Mix the oil and water with a fork, and while mixing gradually incorporate self-raising flour by 1 to 2 tbsp at a time, until it becomes difficult to blend with the fork. Do not overwork the dough; try to incorporate the flour gently.
When the mixture resembles a soft dough, start to work with your hands. Incorporate a little flour at a time until the dough is not sticky but not dry. If you are unsure, stop while the dough is on the sticky side, as it is easier to add flour at this stage than liquid. Handle the dough as little as possible.
Sprinkle flour over your work surface and rolling pin and start to roll out the dough. If it sticks to the rolling pin, sprinkle flour over the surface of the dough, flip it over and sprinkle the other side, then keep rolling. Stop rolling when the dough is about 1/8 inch thick all over.
Cut out the shapes your recipe requires. The extra trimmings can be kneaded together and rolled out again, although the second rolling of pastry will be a little heavier than the first.
Brush beaten egg over the pastry for a glossy finish, and bake at 176 degrees C for 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the size and fillings of your recipe, or until the pastry is golden brown.
You can break off a small piece of dough and try rolling it to determine if you have added enough flour--if it sticks to the rolling pin, add a little more flour. Any neutral monounsaturated oil can be used, for example peanut or sunflower oil, instead of vegetable oil . One hundred per cent olive oil is too strong, but you can use a small amount blended with a neutral oil to give a hint of flavour. Blend grated cheese into the pastry or sprinkle it on top of the rolled-out dough to make cheesy pastry.
If you over-work the pastry, it will become tough. Aim for as little handling as possible.