I hadn't made tartlet cases for a long time - so back to basics - the Atholl Crescent ( Edinburgh)Advanced Cookery book's recipe for shortcrust pastry or to give it its French name - pate a foncer!
8oz plain flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 egg yolk
Sieve the flour and salt into a basin - this aerates the flour and mixes the salt through evenly
Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs - butter has a much nicer flavour than other fats.
Most of the time the proportions used in making a basic shortcrust pastry are half fat to flour, however for a richer, shorter textured pastry such as this, the proportion of fat to flour is higher.
Add the sugar, then mix the egg yolk with a little water and add a little at a time to the mixture until it comes together to form a stiff paste.
If you are making the pastry in an electric mixer, don't allow the mixture to come together to form a dough before you have added the egg yolk and water, otherwise you end up with a dry dough that cracks easily and is difficult to handle (You want to avoid cracks in your pastry cases or the filling will run through them once they are cooked)
Knead lightly till smooth - Over handling the dough at this stage can result in pastry which is tough rather than the crisp tartlet case you are aiming for.
Handling the dough lightly, roll out thinly and cut to size with a serrated biscuit cutter - I was taught to use a serrated edge cutter for sweet items and a smooth edged cutter for savoury - such as quiche.
As far as I am aware this is still the case when entering baking competitions.
Bake the pastry blind - you will often come across this in recipes.
I use my 12 portion Yorkshire pudding tray in which to bake the cases. The pastry needs to be slightly larger than the 'mould' . The small paper cases used for mini muffins are an ideal size to fit into the pastry case and fill with baking beans.
Bake in a preheated oven at 180degrees C for 10 minutes then remove from oven and take out the paper with the beans. Return the tray to the oven for a further 5-10 minutes to finish cooking the pastry - this is called 'baking blind'.
The pastry should be a light brown colour. Keep watching your pastry at this stage because over browning can cause the end result to taste scorched due to the higher proportion of butter to flour.
Remove tin from the oven, allow to sit for 5 minutes then carefully place the pastry tartlets on a cooling tray.
One last tip - once the cases are cold, beat up an egg white with a fork and brush over the insides of the pastry case. Allow to dry completely. This helps to prevent the pastry becoming soggy when the case are filled with cream or confectioners custard .
Fill with fruit, custard or cream, glaze with redcurrant jelly, eat and enjoy! - one tartlet just won't be enough.