Dish of the Day: Short & Sweet

Lily Vanilli
lily 3 225x300 Dish of the Day: Short & Sweet

Breadcrumbs stage

I know Dan Lepard nabbed it first for his wonderful book on baking but I’m eternally jealous, as it combines a perfect wordplay and one of my favourite things, so I’m going to pretend it’s not stealing and use it just this once.

This is a lovely, forgiving and very versatile sweet shortcrust pastry dough, and a great one to begin with if you’re just starting out. Use this pastry to form the base for your own tarts or tarts I include in this column – such as the Bakewell.

Remember, much of what makes or breaks pastry is in the handling, and as such months of practise is irreplaceable, as is gaining an in-depth understanding of why all the subtleties of the method are in place… That said, we’ve got limited space so here are a few top tips:

Stay mindful that you want to minimize gluten development in your dough – this helps keeps your pastry crisp and ‘short’. The factors affecting gluten development here are: liquid, heat and friction, so:

  • Use very cold butter to completely coat your flour
  • Keep handling to a bare minimum, working quickly and lightly
  • Work in a cool room on a cold surface with cold hands and cold equipment (you can refrigerate this prior to using).
  • Allow the dough to rest in the fridge in between any handling and the oven time.

lily 2 225x300 Dish of the Day: Short & Sweet

Bringing the dough together

Sweet Shortcrust Pastry Dough

Makes enough for 1 x 10” round tart / 12 x mini tart cases

250g plain flour

150g icing sugar

Pinch of sea salt

125g unsalted butter, very cold: cubed

2 egg yolks

40ml whole milk

Flavouring, such as: zest of 1 citrus fruit finely grated, or 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg, or 15g ground almonds

In a food processor or stand mixer:

1. Sift the flour, icing sugar and salt into your mixer bowl

2. Add butter and combine in quick pulses until all dry ingredients are coated and the mixture resembles sandy breadcrumbs

3. Combine the egg yolks and milk – and your flavouring if using – and add gradually to the mixture until it comes together as a dough.

4. Refrigerate overnight if possible, or for a minimum of an hour. Take the dough out of the fridge an hour before you need to roll it.

lily 300x200 Dish of the Day: Short & Sweet

Finished Dough

Return dough to room temperature before rolling out.

Lily is also running the world’s first agony aunt baking column: “Recovering from a Bad Bake-up”. Send in your baking disaster stories of unexpected failures in the kitchen/recurring problems to

On the third Friday of the month we will feature a Q&A with advice to help you recover.

Lily Vanilli’s Sweet Tooth is available from Cannongate books, 2012

Follow Lily on Twitter @lilyvanillicake

For more information visit

Instagram lily_vanilli_cake

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