Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

October 23, 2017
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Flaky tart dough

This is a baker’s recipe that you’ll never have to look up if you remember the basic ratio of three to two to one, flour to butter to water. It can be scaled up and down as needed.


1 tsp. (5 ml) salt
2/3 c. (150 ml) very cold water
3 c. (750 ml) plus 2 tbsp. (30 ml) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 c. (225 g) plus 5 tbsp. (75 g) very cold unsalted butter

In a small bowl, add the salt to the water, then stir to dissolve. Keep very cold until ready to use.

To make the dough in a food processor, put the flour in the work bowl. Cut the butter into 1-inch (2.5-cm) pieces and scatter over the flour. Pulse briefly until large crumbs form and some of the butter is still the size of peas. Add the salt-water mixture and pulse several seconds until the dough comes together in a ball, but is not completely smooth. You should still see butter chunks.

To make by hand, put the flour in a large bowl. Cut the butter into 1-inch (2.5-cm) pieces and scatter over the flour. Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut the butter into the flour until large crumbs form and some of the butter is still the size of peas. Drizzle in the salt-water mixture and toss with a fork until the dough comes together in a shaggy mass. Gently mix until it comes together in a ball, but, again, is not completely smooth.

On a lightly floured work surface, divide the dough into 2 balls and shape each into a disk 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours or overnight.

Place a disk of dough on a lightly floured surface and roll out 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick. Dust the work surface with flour as needed to prevent sticking. If lining a tart pan with a removable bottom, cut out a circle 1 inch (2.5 cm) larger than the pan; if lining a pie dish, cut out 2 inches (5 cm) larger than the dish. Transfer to the pan or dish, folding it in half or quarters for ease, and press into place. Trim the dough even with the rim.

For recipes that call for unbaked shells, refrigerate until ready to use. If refrigerating overnight, cover with plastic wrap. The shells can be frozen for two weeks.

For a partially or fully baked shell, chill until firm, 30 minutes to 1 hour. This ensures the flakiest crust.

Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).

Line the pastry shells with parchment paper and fill with pie weights. For a partially baked crust, bake until the surface looks dry and pale, 20 minutes; to check, lift a corner of the paper. Remove from the oven and remove the weights and paper. Return and bake for a few minutes more. Check it while it’s baking. If it’s rising in the middle, pierce it with a knife being careful not to make a large hole in case your filling is liquidy.

For a fully baked crust, bake until the surface is light brown, 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and remove the weights and paper. Return and bake until golden brown, 5 minutes more.

Let cool before filling. The crusts will keep, well-wrapped, in the fridge for 1 week or in the freezer for 2 weeks. Makes 2 crusts.

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