Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pastry Wars : Tart Dough



Or pie crust if you like. I know that the American pie crusts tend to be very different from the tender pate sablee that goes into the French tart, but all I am trying to do here is figure out one perfectly crispy, flaky dough. After all, there are too many things to sort out already without getting into the pie versus tart debate:

- Should you use all butter or butter + lard? Or butter + shortening
- Food processor? I don't have one so that debate is out - we are making the dough by hand
- Butter the size of peas? Large beans? Breadcrumbs? Or everything in between?
- Or should you just ditch cutting the butter and grate it instead.

Gosh! There is so much to pick from. Thankfully, some things are a given. No matter what you do, you are looking for a dough that isn't mishandled too much, and has specks of butter left to rise into flaky crust. And the dough likes cold, so prepare for several rounds of chilling.

I read books and blogs and recipes, then picked the most recent addition to pie crust recipes I'd spotted - Melissa Clark with a jazzy video on NY Times.

Since I don't have a food processor and I wasn't prepared to grate butter as Mr. Audax recommends, I took out 70 grams of butter out of the fridge and cut it into 1 cm squares. These went into the freezer for 15 minutes. I then mixed 3/4 cup flour with a tbsp of sugar and these went into the freezer too. Also in the freezer, 1/2 cup chilled water so it becomes ice cold.

15 minutes on, I brought out the flour and added the almost frozen butter to the bowl. I rubbed the butter in until most squares were half the size from where they started, but we still have fairly large butter chunks. Added iced water 1 tbsp at a time until the dough came together (I needed 3 tbsp).

I have a 3 inch tart pan so I only needed half the recipe. I split the dough in two parts, wrapped each in its own cling wrap and popped it in the fridge for an hour. Once the dough was chilled, I took it out and rolled it as thin as I could, flouring it along the way.

I lined my tart pan with the rolled dough, cutting off all the dough hanging at the edges with a knife. Back in the fridge for half an hour to chill. Then I covered the tart with foil and filled it up with dried beans. Baked in a 200C oven for 25 minutes, then took off the foil and baked for another 10-15 minutes until I got a golden crust.

It's flaky, it's crusty, it's delicious! Is it perfect? Not at all. I had a major problem with the crust - it shrank. The sides were less than half the height from where they started. I filled it with pastry cream and arranged some kiwi balls all around so it looks pretty but this one really won't do. The quest for our perfect tart dough continues!

7 comments:

Apu said...

Well done Simran!! Beautiful looking tart.

Jayasri Ravi said...

Good Job sim!, You are right I keep reading all about pastry and there is definitely big war going on in my head :( and then I will think I will do it some other day, I love Audax's blog he has a great art in cooking and trying out variations, I did grate my butter and my tart turned out well, it was a little bit messy though!. Beautiful tart.

BangaloreBaker said...

Nice write up. I use half butter half shortening to get a flaky crust. My measurements and many on the internet are 2 cups flour and 2/3 cups of fat. This is good enough for 2 crust pie. The same I have used successfully in making a tart.
It is better to do using a pastry blender than in the food processor. There is a debate about chilling the butter and shortening and using ice cold water. Debate goes on...

Prathibha said...

Looks gr8 simran.. I wish I would get any chance to taste it...

Deeba PAB said...

Kiwi balls? How adventurous you are. That's a pretty tart. Well done. I think you might not be very disappointed if you try the pasta frolla to line a tart pan. Mine didn't shrink too much. Make sure you knead it a little till pliable/smooth, also give it a rest in the fridge. I did another batch today for a dessert tomorrow.

Deeba PAB said...

O BTW. have you tried adding everyhting {flour,chilled butter/salt/sugar} into the bowl of the food processor and pulsing? I get perfect and small breadcrumbs everythime

Nachiketa said...

WOW!!!!! amazing looking kiwi tart :)
this daring baker was a real war zone, which u've won hands down... :) :) :)

Cheers,
The Variable, Crazy Over Desserts - Nachiketa
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