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Balanced combination of shortcrust pastry ingredients

Balanced combination of shortcrust pastry ingredients
Balanced combination of shortcrust pastry ingredients

 

 

Shortcrust pastry is one of my favourite baking topics.

So far I have discussed mixing types and techniques without exploring the balanced combination of ingredients.

Today I will dwell on the importance of ingredients amounts in relation to each other.

Simply put:

  • What happens if my butter ratio is 50% or 60% to flour?
  • Do granulated sugar and icing sugar have the same absorption power?

Let’s start with a review of the role played by each shortcrust pastry ingredient.

Flour

To make shortcrust pastry you need weak flour, i.e. a protein content of 8.5 – 9.5, where gluten is expressed in protein percentage.

The ideal flour for shortcrust pastry is low in gluten content to ensure a good, non-elastic structure and excellent friability.

Flour must be added at the end because gluten works with liquids (classic method); if flour is added after mixing the eggs the dough must be kneaded as little as possible (sanding method).

 

Sugar

Sugar makes the pastry crunchy: the more sugar you add the less crumbly is your shortcrust pastry.

The most common sugars for shortcrust are granulated and icing sugar.

Granulated sugar can absorbe a lot more liquids than icing sugar; remember this parameter when you add the eggs.

Shortcrust pastry made with icing sugar is crumblier and is usually called “fine shortcrust”.

 

Butter

Butter is the ingredient that makes the pastry brittle and soft:

The more butter is added to a preparation, the more delicate the shortcrust, with a melt-in-your-mouth feel.

Changing the amount of butter makes the pastry more or less tender and, above all, it impacts the amount of eggs you need.

 

Eggs

Whole eggs, yolks or just egg whites can be used to make shortcrust pastry.

Yolk is basically an emulsion of water, fat and proteins, therefore a pastry made with just yolks is fatter and crumblier.

The type of eggs you choose – whole eggs, yolks or egg whites – impacts on the necessary amount of the remaining ingredients.

To calculate the necessary amount of eggs and make a perfectly balanced shortcrust pastry proper division coefficients can be used.

I am going to make an example based on a recipe:

  • 500 g flour
  • 250 g butter
  • 200 g granulated sugar

This is a shortcrust pastry with a 50% butter to flour ratio.

The division coefficient changes based on the egg type:

 

12 — whole egg

6 — yolk

14 — egg white

 

Don’t panic! It is actually very easy.

First let’s add together the ingredients F+B+S (Flour, Butter, Sugar)

 

500+250+200=950 g

 

Now add the eggs:

 

950:12 = 79 g WE (Whole Egg)

950:6 = 158 g Y (Yolk)

950:14 = 68 g EW (Egg White)

 

As you can see, amounts change considerably; if we increase or decrease the amount of butter, or if we use a different sugar (granulated or icing sugar) these parameters will change again.

Let’s now take the same recipe with a 60% butter to flour ratio:

  • 500 g flour
  • 300 g butter
  • 200 g granulated sugar

F+B+S=1000 g

 

The division coefficient does not change, but part of the egg weight must be subtracted:

1000:12-30 g = 53 g WE

1000:6-38 g = 128 g Y

1000:14-35 g = 36 g EW

 

Based on these examples I have summed it all up in a handy chart:

 

Balanced combination of shortcrust pastry ingredients
Balanced combination of shortcrust pastry ingredients : Amount of eggs in relation to butter and sugar to a 500g flour ratio

 

These formulas allow you to devise new combinations and personalized recipes.

Have a nice Sunday and a nice dessert: will you make it crumbly or crunchy?

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