Sweet Shortcrust Pastry (Masa Sablé)

Serves 8
Cooks in 15 minutes, plus chilling time
Difficulty: easy

Ingredients

  • 500g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 250g  butter, cut into small cubes
  • pinch of salt
  • 100g icing sugar, sifted (azúcar glas, tamizado)
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 splash milk (25g)
  • 1 lemon, zest of (I like to add the zest of 1 orange also)

You can make your pastry like this by hand, or pulse it in a food processor.

Method
I make mine in the Thermomix, simply adding the ingredients to the TMX jug in the same order as indicated above and processing for 20 seconds at Speed 6.  Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes, roll out and line your greased tin, prick the base all over with a fork and pop it into the freezer for 30 minutes.  Preheat your oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4, then follow the instructions below as of **.

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 (if using orange or vanilla for extra flavour, either finely grate in the zest of your orange or add the seeds from the vanilla pod and mix again).

Add the eggs and milk to the mixture and gently work it together using your hands 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 the ball into a flat round about 2.5cm thick. Sprinkle over a little more flour, then wrap the dough in clingfilm and pop it into the fridge to rest for at least 30 minutes.

Get yourself a 25cm non-stick loose-bottomed tart tin and, using a splash of vegetable oil on a piece of kitchen paper, lightly oil the inside.

Dust a clean surface and a rolling pin with flour, then carefully roll out your pastry, turning it every so often, until it’s about 0.5cm thick. Carefully roll your pastry around the rolling pin, then unroll it carefully over your oiled tin. Ease the pastry into the tin, making sure you push it into all the sides. Trim off any excess by running a knife along the top of the pastry case, then prick the base of the case all over with a fork and pop it into the freezer for 30 minutes. Preheat your oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4.

**Get yourself a large square piece of grease-proof paper, scrunch it up, then unwrap it and use it to line your pastry case, pushing it right into the sides. Fill the case right up to the top with rice, and bake blind for 10 minutes in your preheated oven. Take the case out, carefully remove the rice and grease-proof paper (you can save the rice to use for blind baking another time), then return the case to the oven to cook for a further 10 minutes until it’s firm and almost biscuit-like. Leave to cool.