This is a perfect crisp pastry to make shortbread biscuits or to use as a base for any sweet tart.
100g butter, softened
40g caster sugar
150g plain flour
1 tablespoon milk
1. Beat the butter and caster sugar together until smooth and fluffy. Add the flour, bit by bit, and incorporate until you have a smooth dough. Add a little milk to bring it together if you need it but try to add as little as possible. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and chill for 20 minutes or until you need to use it. (You can double-wrap it in clingfilm, pop it into a zip lock bag and freeze it for up to 3 months at this stage. Defrost fully before rolling out.)
To use the pastry
You can use this quantity of pastry to make 12 individual shortcake biscuits: roll the pastry out on a lightly floured board, cut out as many 3 inch circles as you can, roll up the scraps and cut out the rest of the biscuits. Bake in a preheated oven at 180C/350F/Gas 4 for 12-15 minutes or until golden. Cool on a baking rack. Store in a covered container for up to 5 days. Sandwich two shortbread biscuits with whipped cream and raspberry jam or eat them on their own.
To make a tart base using this pastry
You can also make a 7 inch tart base with this quantity of pastry. Roll it out into one big circle, press it into a baking dish and bake blind for 20 minutes in a preheated oven at 180C/350F/Gas 4. Remove the baking beans and parchment paper and continue to bake for another 10 minutes or until the pastry is golden and fully cooked. It is now ready to be filled.
Ideas to fill a shortbread tart
Spoon a jar of lemon curd into a fully-baked tart base, top with meringue and place under a hot grill until the meringue is golden.
Spread good quality full-fruit raspberry jam over the base of the tart. Top with sliced plums that you have poached with enough sugar to sweeten them, making sure to drain the plums first to remove excess syrup. If you wish, add a few drops of vanilla or rose extract to the poached plums. Serve with whipped double cream. (This is the tart pictured on this page.)
Image copyright foodpixies.com