Saturday, March 14, 2009

Pies and Tarts 1 - Dough Recipes

Here are my two basic crusts that I use for almost all pies and tarts. The first crust is my favorite - a cookie-like crust that refrigerates beautifully. The second is a traditional pie crust that I mostly use for double-crusted fruit pies. It's flaky and buttery - a great combination. Don't forget to continue on with Parts 2 and 3 for instructions on rolling, transferring and shaping the dough.

This is my favorite crust and the one I use for tarts and for pies that get refrigerated. It's more like a cookie, and gets even better when refrigerated. It's more of a tender crust, which means that it might rip when you transfer it to the pie or tart pan. But it's also very forgiving, and you can simply pinch it back together.

1-1/2 cups(195 grams) all-purpose flour, fluffed, scooped and leveled into measuring cups
2 - 4 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 large egg yolk
1 - 3 teaspoons cream or water

Tart Crust:
Grease a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom.

Place the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor bowl. Pulse-process until the ingredients are well mixed.

Add the cold butter. Pulse-process, about 7 times, until the butter is cut into lentil-sized pieces.

Turn the processor on and add the egg yolk and 1 teaspoon cream, through the feed tube. Process for 10 seconds. If not yet clumping, add another teaspoon of cream. Process 10 seconds more. If necessary, add the remaining cream, and process again. The dough should be dry, but should be able to be pinched together. Dump the dough out onto a board and press into a flattened disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 15 minutes.

Roll the dough into a 13-inch round, about 1/16-inch thick. To transfer the dough to the tart pan and finish the edge, see Pies and Tarts - Part 2. Press the dough snugly into the bottom of the pan where it meets the edges and into the flutes of the tart pan. Press up on the edges to thin them out and to raise the edges about 1/16-inc. Refrigerate or freeze the crust for at least 15 minutes or up to 3 weeks (for long storage, place the bag in a jumbo zip-top bag).
To use this dough in an 8-inch pie plate, roll it to 11 inches, and use the directions in Pies and Tarts - Parts 2 and 3, for finishing.

I usually use flaky pie crust for a double-crusted pie which isn't going to be refrigerated. Although it can be refrigerated, it looses some of its flakiness and is not at its best. A flaky pie crust is the kind you most often find in restaurants and bakeries, although most of those are made with shortening or lard only. Crusts made with shortening and lard are the flakiest, but I don't think they have the best flavor – and because they are saturated they tend to leave a film on the roof of the mouth, especially if you drink something cold while eating the pastry – not my favorite sensation. This crust will be flaky/tender, and will have a great taste and mouthfeel.

2-1/2 cups (325 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour, fluffed, scooped and leveled into measuring cups (or you can substitute 1/2 cup cake flour for 1/2 cup all purpose)
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
10 tablespoons (5 ounces) shortening, frozen and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
5 tablespoons (2.5 ounces) unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/4 cup ice water, divided

Place the flour, salt and sugar in a food processor bowl. Pulse-process to mix everything together. Place the shortening and butter on top of the dry ingredients. Pulse-process until the fats are cut into pea-size bits.

Transfer the mixture to a bowl. Sprinkle on 3 tablespoons ice water. Mix with a fork and then, using your fingertips, press the mixture into a solid mass. If necessary, add more water to bring the dough together. Divide the dough in half. Wrap each piece in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Grease and flour an 8-inch glass pie plate (you'll need more dough if using a large pan). Flouring the plate is controversial, as there is a risk that the dough could shrink off of the pie plate rim. However, it’s so much easier to get the slices out of the pan when the plate is floured, that I do it anyway.

Using the technique from Pies and Tarts – Part 2, roll 1 piece of dough into an 11 or 12-inch circle about 1/8-inch thick. Transfer the dough to the pie plate. Trim the dough and make the edging of your choice using instructions in Pies and Tarts Part 3.

After you fill your pie, you'll roll out the remaining dough, making it larger than the bottom crust, if the pie is mounded with fruit. Trim the top crust so it is the same size as the bottom crust. Squeeze the two edges together and then roll the edge up to make a nice border on the pan rim. Flute the edge using one of the techniques from Pies and Tarts Part 3. Make 4 or 5 slits in the pie with a sharp knife.

Bake as your recipe requires.

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