Friday, May 23, 2008

Easy as Pie: Basic Pastry Dough

Making pies and tarts is really more like cooking then baking. Unlike a cake, which requires precise measurements in order rise properly and achieve the desired crumb, pies and tarts are made by look and feel.

I think, with frozen piecrust readily available in every supermarket freezer case, many people have the mistaken impression that it is difficult to make. This is absolutely not true. All you need to know is work with cold ingredients and chill the dough twice: after forming and after rolling. Also work quickly and don't overwork mix. Here's my basic butter crust recipe.

Basic Butter Pastry Dough*
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold butter
2 to 4 tablespoons ice water

Mix together flour, sugar, and salt. Cut butter into pieces and add to flour mixture. Using your fingertips or a pastry cutter, incorporate the butter into the four. The butter/flour mixture should be grainy and individual pieces should be about the size of a small pea.

Add water one tablespoon at a time until the dough just comes together. Press into a ball, wrap with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Roll out dough and refrigerate for 15 to 30 minutes.

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