I have to give Mr. Oliver props for this pastry, I have tried countless other shortcrust recipes, varying the sugar, flour, flavours and I always, always come back to this one. If you try it you’ll see why! I tend to make twice what I actually need, and keep the excess in the freezer for a day that I want pie and can’t be bothered making pastry. This recipe though is for 1 portion, that is, enough to make 1 large pie.
You don’t want to over process shortcrust pastry, it can get doughy and chewy rather than that delicious buttery, crumbly texture we’re after, and for that reason I’ve given the instructions for using a food processor. I find it helps the pastry come together faster, and by removing the heat of your hands from the equation you remove the chances of melting the butter. I sound like a nag now, so I’ll just get on with it...
500g plain flour
100g icing sugar
250g cold butter, cubed
2 large eggs, beaten
Splash of milk
Flavouring of your choice (see below)
1) Sieve the flour and icing sugar together. Pour into your food processor and add the butter cubes and your chosen flavouring. Pulse until the mixture is crumbly and fine (should only take about 30 seconds).
2) Pour in the eggs and milk, pulse for a few more seconds until the mixture starts to come together.
3) Place some clingfilm on your work surface, and scoop out your dough onto it. Pat it into a compact, roundish shape (DON’T KNEAD IT), wrap it in the clingfilm and pop in the fridge to chill for at least half an hour. TA DA! You’re done, and you’ve made fantastic pastry. Go you!
You can use any of the following:-
Lemon zest, orange zest, lime zest, cinnamon, nutmeg, mixed spice, cocoa powder, vanilla seeds
The list is pretty much endless. You will know from what you’re making what flavours are going to complement one another and work from there. Just remember that it’s the pastry you’re flavouring, not the pie, so go easy on it! You don’t want the crust on your gorgeous tart to overpower the filling. Similarly, try not to use a flavouring that is already present in the pie itself eg. Cinnamon flavouring in the pastry, plus cinnamon in an apple filling would be a cinnamon overdose and the flavour of the apples would be lost. Better to use some lemon zest and let it boost the fruitiness of the overall pie.