To prepare shortcrust pastry by hand: Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Add the cubes of cold butter and rub into the flour with the fingertips until the mixture is crumbly. Add the egg yolk and enough water to form a soft dough. Knead until smooth. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 20 minutes to firm up the dough.
To prepare shortcrust pastry using stand mixer: Sift the flour and salt. Place in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the cubes of cold butter and mix on low speed until mixture is crumbly. Add egg yolk and enough water to knead into a soft dough on medium speed. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 20 minutes to firm up the dough.
To shape pastry: Dust the worktop and rolling pin lightly with flour. Using the rolling pin, roll out the pastry to the required thickness and use to line a buttered tart pan with removable bottom, or buttered ring mould set on a silicon mat or paper-lined baking tray. Trim the excess. Prick the pastry with a fork or a spiked roller.
To bake blind: To cook the pastry shell properly, it must be pre-baked before adding the filling, in a method known as blind baking, which simply means baking the pastry shell without the filling.
To blind bake, line the pastry in the mould with cling film. Fill with beans or raw rice to weigh it down. Cover rice completely with cling film and a piece of baking paper/mat. Hold mould with both hands between the two sheets of paper; flip it over and place on the tray so that the bottom is facing up. Bake in oven preheated to 150°C for 5-10 minutes (depending on size and thickness) or until firm. Remove from the oven; lift mould, remove the rice. Place tart shell upright on the baking tray and return to the oven to bake for another 5-10 minutes, until just lightly browned all over.
If the shell is to be filled with custard and returned to the oven for further baking, underbake it slightly when you blind bake. If the tart is to be filled without further baking, bake the pastry shells fully by leaving it in the oven for a bit longer.