There is a myth that some people – who may be good cooks otherwise –just can't make pastry, especially shortcrust which is very hands-on. It's really only a matter of following a few simple rules: Everything must be cold – fat, water, even flour if possible. Measure quantities exactly; there's no room for free spirits in pastry-making. Half fat to flour is usual (the more fat, the crumblier the pastry) and 8oz/225g flour will make an ordinary apple pie, say. Lard is more manageable than butter, though the latter gives a better flavour –try half-and-half. Use a large mixing bowl.Cut the cold fat in small pieces and rub between thumb and first two fingers until it looks like fine breadcrumbs. If you get sticky lumps, the fat (or your hand) is too warm – stick the bowl in the fridge for a bit. Add water slowly and use the minimum you need to make a ball of dough. Put lots of flour on the (cold) work surface and roll out gently – don't press hard. If it falls apart or sticks, add a liitle more flour, squeeze together and start again.