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 flavoring. 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 flavors! 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. PS. You can also make this pastry using a food processor]
Sift the flour from a height onto a clean work surface and sift 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 flavors, so mix in your lemon zest. Add the eggs and milk to the mixture and gently work it together until 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 plastic wrap and put it into the refrigerator to rest for at least half an hour.
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