Posted in Bringing Alive The Past, History, Mrs Beeton

Making pastry Mrs Beeton’s way – Part 1 – Short Crust Pastry

How to make pastry – Mrs Beeton 1915 edition
In chapter 31 – ‘Pastry making, tarts, tartlets, icing, etc’, Mrs B. advice on pastry making is clear, ‘…the quality especially to be desired in pastry is lightness.  The best pastry is therefore that which contains the greatest quantity of the coldest air prior to baking.’ (1915: 879)
25g = 1 oz       100g = 4 oz     225g = 1/2 lb    450g= 1lb
Rich Short Crust
1lb flour; 1/3 of a lb of butter; 2 yolks of eggs; 1 level tablespoonful of castor sugar; 1 teaspoonful of baking-powder.
Rub the butter lightly into the flour, add the baking-powder, sugar, yolks of eggs, and a little water if necessary, but this paste must be rather stiff, and when the butter is soft, or the paste is being mixed in a warm place, only a few drops of water may be required.  Roll out thinly and use at once.  The crust for fruit tarts should be lightly brushed over with cold water, and dredged with castor sugar before being baked.
Preparation time=  15 minutes,  will make 2 tarts of medium size or 24 patty-cases.
Short Crust
8 ozs of flour; 2 ozs of butter; 2 ozs of lard; 1 yolk of egg, 1 teaspoonful of baking-powder; a good pinch of salt; about 1/8th of a pint of water.
Rub the butter and lard lightly into the flour, add the baking-powder, salt, yolk of egg, and as much water as is necessary to form a stiff paste.  Roll out to the required thickness and use at once.
Preparation time = 15 minutes, sufficient for 1 medium-sized tart.
Short Crust, Plain
1/2 lb of flour; 3 ozs of lard; clarified fat or dripping; 1 teaspoonful baking-powder (heaped); 1/4 of a teaspoonful of salt; 1/4 of a pint of water.
Pass the flour, salt, and baking-powder through a sieve into a large basin, then rub in the fat, add the water, and work into a smooth paste with a knife.  Roll out to desired shape and thickness, and use at once.  When required for fruit tarts, 1 tablespoonful of sugar should be added to the above ingredients.
Preparation time = 15 minutes, sufficient for 1 medium-sized tart.
Let me know if you think Mrs Beeton’s recipes for short crust pastry work better than your normal methods?  Happy baking!


Social historian, based in the UK.

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