People panic about pastry. It can be tricky but there a a few simple rules to observe and a whole world of opportunity is opened to you. A simple quiche makes a perfect lunch dish, and if you can knock up a fruit tart it is practically an instant pudding.
There are millions of pastry recipes out there but you don't really need them. Simple basic shortcrust pastry (for lining a tart dish or putting at the bottom of a pie) is literally half fat to flour with cold water to bind it. When I say fat I really mean butter (I buy the salt reduced Tassie butter in foil....apparently the paper wrapped butter is affected by the lights of the dairy cabinets which makes it go rancid). So you judge the amounts on the size of your quiche tin. I usually use 150g butter to 300g flour for a 28 cm dish, you may have a bit left over. (Make a few jam tarts for the kids, or some mini lemon curd tarts..).
I always mix the dough in the food processor. The butter should come straight out of the fridge. Pastry, unlike bread dough, really does not like to be handled and is best made in a cool environment, whatever you do, don't knead it. Whizz in the processor until it resembles breadcrumbs:
You then need to add sufficient cold water from the fridge to form a ball. This will be 2-3 tablespoons for 300g flour. Add some of the water and whizz. If it's not coming together, add a bit more then let it form a ball:
If you put too much water in you can add a little more flour. Tip the ball onto a square of baking paper and without too much delay fold it up and refrigerate for 30 minutes (longer if you need to, it just might be a bit harder when you go to roll it out).
Now for the fun part, rolling out. I have a marble slab on my bench for this purpose, but anywhere will do. Sprinkle a bit of flour on the board and roll out, turning the pastry a quarter turn every few rolls to make sure it's even and not sticking until you have a nice round shape that is bigger than your tin.
Place your rolling pin on the end closest to you and roll the pastry over the pin to lift it up and slide the tin underneath. Press it into the tin and trim the edges.
Prick a few holes in the pastry with a fork and place the piece of baking paper on top. Put it in the fridge while the oven is heating up to 180c. When the oven is warm enough fill the pastry with beans of choice (either special cooking ones or at the moment I have red kidney beans. I have been known to use small stones). Cook in the oven for 15 minutes. Take it out and remove the paper and the beans, and return to the oven for a further 10 minutes.
While that is cooking I usually prepare the filling. The options of course are endless but for a simple egg and bacon here's what you do:
This will do a 24cm dish.
Fry 2-3 rashers of chopped bacon in a frying pan till nicely cooked, not too crispy. If you are adding a leek, do so at the end of the bacon cooking and cook until softened. Set aside, leave in the pan.
In a bowl whisk 4 eggs and a cup of cream. Grate about 1/2 cup of tasty cheese. I did not ever say that this was health food.
If you are using a metal quiche dish with a removable base it is advisable to put it on a baking sheet.
Scatter the cheese on first, then the bacon, making sure you scrape all the bits out of the pan.
Pour over the egg mixture, a bit more grated cheese, then season with salt & pepper and a dusting of nutmeg.
Place in the oven and cook for 30-40 minutes until puffed and golden.
The other pastry I use all the time is Maggie Beer's Sour Cream Pastry. More on that at a later date.