Monday, March 28, 2011

Quick and Basic Pie Dough

adapted from "Mastering the Art of French Cooking"

Pate Brisee
Short Paste, Pastry Dough, Pie Crust

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar
6 ounces (1 1/2 stick)chilled butter, cut into bits
4 Tbsp chilled shortening
scant 1/2 cup iced or really cold water, plus more as needed.

I would recommend having all the ingredients ready before mixing by hand, including the water, so as to avoid having to wash your hands repeatedly, or getting flour all over your kitchen.

"Place flour, salt, sugar, butter and vegetable shortening in a big mixing bowl. Rub the flour and fat together rapidly between the tips of your fingers until the fat is broken into pieces the size of oatmeal flakes. Do not overdo this step as the fat will be blended more thoroughly later"

When blending the flour and butter together it maybe helpful to look for a wet sand kind of texture to the flour. Its ready for the next step when you can squeeze some of the dough in your hand and it stays in a clump when you release it.

"Add the water and blend quickly with one hand, fingers held together and slightly cupped, as you rapidly gather the sough into a mass. Sprinkle up to 1 tablespoon more water by droplets over any un-massed remains and add them to the main body of the sough. Then press the sough firmly into a roughly shaped ball. It should just hold together and be pliable, but not sticky."

If you do happen to add to much water, you can add a bit more flour to the dough ball in the next step called fraisage, or final blending.

"Place the dough on a lightly floured pastry board. With the heel of one hand, not the balm which is too warm, rapidly press the pastry by two-spoonful bits down on the board and away from you in a firm, quick smear of about 6 inches." Basically you are making sure the butter is well blended into the dough. Once the dough has been smooshed, gather it up into a mass and knead it briefly into a ball. Lightly flour the ball and wrap it up in plastic wrap or waxed paper. You can place the dough into the freezer for up to an hour until it is firm, or refrigerate for 2 hours, or overnight.

"Uncooked pastry dough will keep for 2 to 3 days under refrigeration, or may be frozen for several weeks. Always wrap it airtight in waxed paper and a plastic bag." (I imagine plastic wrap would be just fine)

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