Recipe: Basic shortcrust pastry (Traditional American piecrust)

Dear Offspring,

After a lot of experimenting and mental math conversions in a new country, I’ve concluded that weight is the best universal baking language (how heavy is 3 cups of flour? I’ve converted it for you here!).

Love from Mom

Update (5/20/2018): I joined the cool kids and bought a Thermomix. It makes pastry so fast your head would spin!

Basic Shortcrust Pastry (Traditional American Piecrust)

(Good for a single 9″ crust. Double the recipe for a double crust or deep quiche pan.)

A.

225 g / 8 oz all-purpose flour, sifted

For a savory tart like quiche:

56 g / 2 oz butter, cut into cubes and frozen**

56 g / 2 oz lard, cut into cubes and frozen

For a sweet tart:

112 g / 4 oz butter, no lard

B.

2-3 tbsp ice water

*****

A. Using a food processor, pulse the dry ingredients until they resemble coarse bread crumbs (Thermomix 10 seconds, speed 6). The trick is to use the coldest ingredients and to be quick; the food processor is simply faster and simulates the “cutting in” method. You can also “cut in” the butter into the flour using a dough cutter. The “cut in” method produces a strong, sturdy pastry that is, especially with the addition of lard to butter, somewhere between tender and flaky.

(In my Home Economics classes in middle school, I was taught the “rubbing in” method. This produces a shortcrust pastry more akin to a pâte brisée, which has a finer crumb and is more delicate than the traditional American piecrust. The stand mixer with paddle attachment simulates the “rubbing in” method.)

B. Add 2-3 tbsp of ice water and pulse until the dough comes together (start with less water) (Thermomix 5 seconds, speed 6). Do not overmix. It should have the consistency of Playdoh.

Bring the dough together into a ball and wrap with cling wrap. Do not knead. Rest in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

When ready to use, take the dough out of the fridge and rest it at room temperature for 15 minutes. This will prevent the dough from cracking when rolled.

Roll out the rested dough out and arrange it in a buttered or non-stick pie pan. Prick all over the base with a fork. Rest in the fridge for at least another hour or freeze.

If blind baking, cover the pie with cling wrap and fill it *completely* (packed to the sides) with baking weights or uncooked rice before baking (200 C / 392 F). Bake for 15 minutes, remove the cling wrap with baking weights carefully, brush the base with a beaten egg and bake for a further 5 minutes.

Update (5/20/2018): I tried the Serious Eats method of using aluminum (instead of cling wrap), and slow-baking at 350 F / 176 C for 1 hour. It yielded just as good a result in my opinion, with the convenience of just bunking it in the oven one time.

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