© David Loftus
old-fashioned sweet shortcrust pastry
This pastry is perfect for making apple and other sweet pies. Even if you’ve never made pastry before, as long as you stick to the correct measurements for the ingredients and you follow the method exactly, you’ll be laughing. The one place where you can experiment is with flavouring. If you don’t fancy using lemon zest, try another dry ingredient like orange zest instead. Or a pinch of cinnamon, nutmeg or cocoa powder. Vanilla seeds are great too. Just remember to be subtle and don’t go overboard with any of these flavours!
Try to be confident and bring the pastry together as quickly as you can – don’t knead it too much or the heat from your hands will melt the butter. A good tip is to hold your hands under cold running water beforehand to make them as cold as possible. That way you’ll end up with a delicate, flaky pastry every time.
Sieve the flour from a height on to a clean work surface and sieve the icing sugar over the top. Using your hands, work the cubes of butter into the flour and sugar by rubbing your thumbs against your fingers until you end up with a fine, crumbly mixture. This is the point where you can spike the mixture with interesting flavours, so mix in your lemon zest.
Add the eggs and milk to the mixture and gently work it together till you have a ball of dough. Flour it lightly. Don’t work the pastry too much at this stage or it will become elastic and chewy, not crumbly and short. Flour your work surface and place the dough on top. Pat it into a flat round, flour it lightly, wrap it in clingfilm and put it into the fridge to rest for at least half an hour.
Jen from Recipease says - "This is a brilliant lesson where we teach you the basics to get perfect sweet shortcrust pastry each time. We then use seasonal ingredients to create a delicious pie that you finish off and take home to bake and enjoy (the filling will change throughout the year – but the pastry techniques will stay the same). This pastry can then be used for delicious treats like, Christmas mince pies and sweet tarts both large and small".
• from Jamie at Home
• 500g organic plain flour, plus extra for dusting
• 100g icing sugar, sifted
• 250g good-quality cold butter, cut into small cubes
• zest of 1 lemon
• 2 large free-range or organic eggs, beaten
• a splash of milk