- 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!