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Easy Shortbread Pastry

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This easy shortbread pastry is just what you need for those wonderful cream tarts and pies. The shortbread pastry dough is made in a food processor. It is a press-in, no-roll easy crust that you will want to use again and again.

Try this recipe with our chocolate caramel tart or a peaches and cream tart. It is even great for pies. Use it in pumpkin pie, apple pie, and more.

Easy Shortbread Pastry
Fully baked shortbread pastry crust

What’s not to love about a fast and easy pastry crust made in a food processor!

What is a shortbread pastry?

This is a sweetened, butter-based pastry dough traditionally used for tarts.  The pastry is a mixture of butter, sugar, flour, salt, egg yolks, and cream.  It is slightly sweet with a cookie-like texture and rich with butter. 

Shortbread pastry has sugar in it unlike shortcrust pastry which is a savory crust.

If you like this recipe you will want to try our perfect graham cracker crust recipe.

How much pastry does this recipe make?

This recipe makes enough dough for an 11-inch x 1-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. We used this shortbread pastry recipe for our Chocolate Caramel TartIt also will make a crust for one 9x13x2-inch baking dish of bar cookies if you don’t push the dough up the edges.  

You could also use it for two 8×8 inch pans but the crust will be a bit thinner than a 9×13 inch pan and you will need to reduce the baking time by a couple of minutes. 

Ingredients Needed to Make this Shortbread Pastry:

No special ingredients required for this special tart crust.  I bet you have everything in your pantry already!  😊

Photo showing the ingredients used to make a shortbread pastry.
  • Flour. All-purpose flour works fine in this pastry crust recipe.
  • Powdered sugar. Sugar adds sweetness and makes this shortbread crust taste like a lightly sweetened cookie. The sugar also helps make this pastry tender since it interferes with gluten development.
  • Salt. Salt enhances the flavors and brings balances the sweetness.
  • Butter. Salted or unsalted butter works fine here. Even with the added salt, this pastry will not be too salty if you use salted butter.
  • Egg yolks. The egg yolks help create a soft, workable texture. They also tenderize the dough and gives it a rich flavor.
  • Cream. The cream adds moisture and fat. In addition to the egg yolks, the cream gives the dough a rich flavor and tender texture.
  • Vanilla extract. A flavor enhancer that goes well with sweet pastry dough. If you want to substitute with almond extract, cut the amount in half.

How to make this easy shortbread pastry:

You will be please at how easy this pastry comes together.  Here is the short version to make it but please scroll to the bottom of the post for the recipe card and the entire instructions:

A collage of four photos showing how to make a shortbread pastry crust.
A collage of four photos showing how to make
  1. Add the flour, sugar and salt, to a food processor and process to combine.  
  2. Distribute the butter bits over the flour mixture and pulse
  3. Continue pulsing until the mixture looks like fine sand.
  4. Whisk the egg yolks, cream, and vanilla together and add to the flour mixture.  Pulse just until the mixture is crumbly.
  5. Tip the crumbly dough into the tart pan and press to the sides with fingers or a spoon then press into the bottom firmly. 
  6. Prick the surface with a fork and place in the freezer for 30 minutes.
  7. Spray a piece of foil with non-stick oil and cover the frozen crust, molding it tightly to the bottom and sides. You will not need pie weights for this pastry crust.
  8. Place the tart pan onto a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 15-minutes.  Transfer from the oven, remove the foil.

Tips:

  • If the filling in your pie or tart needs to be baked, cool the crust before adding the filling. 
  • If the filling does not need to be baked, return the pastry to the oven and continue baking for an additional 15-minutes. Cool completely before filling.
  • This press-in shortbread pastry looks crumbly but it is super easy to mold into the pan with your fingers.  You can use the bottom of a metal measuring to press the dough onto the pan. The back of a teaspoon fits nicely against the inside edge of the pan. 
  • The foil holds the pastry in place and will keep the sides of the tart from slumping during the baking process.   Since the edges of the tin are so short and the pastry is fairly thick, you don’t need pie weights but you can use them if you would like. 
  • If you use this recipe for a standard pie dish then we recommend using pie weights since the sides are taller.
Smoothing the easy shortbread pastry
Smoothing the press-in shortbread pastry

If you have one of these funny looking pizza rollers it works great creating a smooth bottom to the pastry.

Why is it Important to Prick the Pastry Before Baking?

Pricking holes in the pastry dough allows steam to escape while the crust is baking.  Without the escape holes the steam would build up underneath the crust into large bubbles and the crust would bake unevenly.  I know this to be true from my personal experience!  😊

Easy Shortbread Pastry
Unbaked 11-inch tart

What can you use a shortbread pastry for?

Use this rich crust for any type of tart, pie, or individual mini-tarts. It is especially wonderful when used in bar cookies and fruit turnovers. It also works well as the crust for a cheesecake. 

Since this shortbread pastry is a sweet pastry crust, it is intended primarily for desserts.

If used as a crust with a baked filling the crust should only be partially baked as it will finish baking when you bake the filling. 

For a filling that does not require baking, the crust should be fully baked. In either case, be sure to completely cool the crust before adding the filling. 

Freezable shortbread pastry:

You can freeze this pastry for up to 3 months.  Just put the crumbly mixture into a freezer-proof sealable bag, label it and stick it into the freezer. Make a couple of batches ahead of time and freeze them before the holidays. It will make your holiday baking go so much smoother. 

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Easy Shortbread Pastry

Easy Shortbread Pastry

Yield: One 11-inch tart shell
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

This easy shortbread pastry crust is traditionally used for baking tarts. It is rich and buttery with a cookie-like texture. It is made in a food processor and is a press-in, no-roll pastry.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (240 grams) flour
  • 1/2 cup (60 grams) powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 3/4 cup (169 grams or 12 tablespoons) cold butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions

For one 11-inch x 1-inch tart pan with removable bottom

  1. Place the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of the food processor, pulse to combine. 
  2. Distribute the butter pieces over the flour mixture and process the until it looks like fine sand.
  3. In a small dish, whisk the egg yolks, cream and vanilla together and add to the mixture.  Pulse just until the mixture is crumbly.
  4. Tip the pastry mixture into the tart pan. With your fingers or the back of a tablespoon, press dough up the sides of the pan. Use the bottom of a flat-bottomed measuring cup to press the mixture firmly and evenly over the bottom of the tart pan.
  5. Prick the dough with a fork and place the tart pan on a baking sheet then set it into the freezer for 30-minutes to firm up. 
  6. Preheat the oven to 350°F
  7. Remove the frozen pastry tart from the freezer. 
  8. Spray one side of a large piece of aluminum foil with non-stick oil and place it, oiled side down, over the pastry. Press the foil tightly against the pastry molding it to the crust and over the edge. There is no need for pie weights if you use this for a tart pan. Add pie weights if you use this recipe for a pie dish.
  9. Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and bake for 15-minutes if using for a tart that requires the filling to be baked. If the filling does not require baking, bake the crust for another 15 minutes.
  10. Remove from the oven and carefully remove the foil. Let the pastry cool completely before filling. 

Notes

  1. The bottom of a metal measuring cup can be used to press the dough smooth.
  2. Also, a pizza rollers is a great tool that smooths the bottom and fits up against the inside edge
  3. The back of a teaspoon also works well on the inside edge of the pastry
  4. For a tart with a baked filling par-bake the pastry shell for 15-minutes
  5. For a tart without a baked filling, bake the pastry shell for 15-minutes, transfer from the oven and remove the foil; then return to the oven and bake an additional 15-minutes.
  6. Pressing the foil on top of the pastry before baking it will ensure that the pastry holds its shape while baking and prevent the edges from slumping. Make sure you spray the bottom of the foil with non-stick spray first.
  7. If you make this for a pie, use pie weights. Since the edges are taller in a pie dish, the pie weights will be needed to keep the walls from slumping while the crust par-bakes.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1 slice
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 244Total Fat: 17gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 73mgSodium: 168mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 1gSugar: 5gProtein: 3g

Nutrition information is a guideline only, is calculated automatically by third party software, and absolute accuracy is not guaranteed.

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