Quick Bites from Pender

Short Crust Pastry – Culinary School Method

In Lessons From Cooking School, Recipes on February 26, 2010 at 5:01 am

short-crust-prebaked

My culinary skills instructor, Chef P., was the son of a Parisian bakery owner — multiple bakeries, actually.  He told us stories of working in the bakery as a child — how the master bakers stood outside the back door, cigarettes in hand, feeling the early morning air before returning inside to mix the day’s bread doughs according to the current temperature and humidity.

Although he was eventually drawn to the culinary side of things, Chef P. still had a lot to say about the pastry arts.  Once a week, at the end of the night, he would whip up a little dessert for us to all share.  He would demonstrate a technique or two, present us with classics like grapefruit sabayon, kirsch-doused genoise, and crepes suzette, then send us home smacking sweet syrup from our lips.

short-crust-pastry

Don’t get me wrong — he wasn’t sweet all the time — au contraire. Most of the time he was a slightly ornery French Chef with a tendency to yell (in a thick accent) “Stop it!  What are you doing?” at random intervals, to no one in particular.  The desserts were his way of showing us his kind side.

I developed this short crust recipe by combining Chef P.’s originals.  His savoury crust contained no sugar, while his dessert crust contained about double what I have listed in my version.  My slightly sweetened version adeptly swings either way — that kind of flexibility is welcome anytime, anywhere, as far as I’m concerned.

short-crust-tart-pan

A multi-purpose crust for sweet or savoury fillings that is substantial enough to hold up outside of the pan, but tender enough to yield easily under your fork.

I have a smaller 8″ tart pan that I use for the 2 of us.  This recipe makes two 8″ crusts — one for mains and one for dessert.  Just the way I like it.

Short Crust Pastry

(2) 8” crusts or (1) 10” crust

All Purpose Flour 2 C 250 g
Unsalted Butter, cut into  ½” cubes ½ C 120 g
Sugar 1 T 15 g
Salt ½ t 3 g
Egg Yolk 1
Ice Cold Water ¼ – 1/3 C 60-80 ml

C=cup       g=grams        t=teaspoon        ml=millilitres

Pulse together the flour, butter, sugar and salt in a food processor until the butter is reduced to small pea-sized lumps, and the flour is the colour of cornmeal — remove to a medium bowl.

Whisk the yolk together with ¼ C of the ice water, and add to the bowl.  Using a fork or your fingers, mix until the dough comes together into a “shaggy mass” — adding additional water 1 tablespoon at a time if necessary.  The goal is to add just enough water to hold the dough together – it should not be too soft.

Place the dough ball on the counter, and pour any loose flour left in the bowl onto the dough.  Lightly knead the remaining flour into the dough to form the dough into 1 or 2 smooth-surfaced discs, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least ½ hour.

Preheat the oven to 375˚.

Lightly dust the counter with flour.  Roll the dough into a 10” or 12” circle (depending on the size of your pan), about 1/8” stopping occasionally to run your fingers under the dough to loosen it from the counter and to check for uniform thickness.  Transfer to a tart pan with removable bottom, pressing the dough into the corners and up the sides.  Trim the dough by lightly rolling the rolling pin across the top of the pan.

Prick holes all over the bottom of the crust with fork.  Line the bottom of the crust with parchment or waxed paper (foil also works in a pinch) and pour a layer of uncooked beans or rice onto the bottom (to prevent the crust from bubbling up).

Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes, then remove the beans/rice and parchment and return the crust to the oven for 10 more minutes, until the crust has coloured lightly.

Remove from the oven and cool on a rack.  Once cool, fill with your choice of sweet or savoury fillings.

short-crust-blind-bake

Tips:

  • It takes most 2 or 3 attempts at this crust to learn how much water is needed to just hold the dough together.  Too much water will result in a tough crust.
  • If you don’t have a food processor, combine the flour, butter, sugar and salt in a bowl and push the butter and flour through your finger tips until the butter is incorporated as above.
  • If you refrigerated the dough for more than ½ hour, you may have to rest it for a few minutes at room temperature before it will be soft enough to roll out.
  • To minimize shrinkage:  as you press the dough up the sides of the tart pan, allow it to “slump” in slightly.  Once you have trimmed the dough with the rolling pin, push this “slumped” dough up again, so that extends above the top of the pan.

Short Crust Pastry

(2) 8” crusts or (1) 10” crust

All Purpose Flour

2 C

250 g

Unsalted Butter, cut into  ½” cubes

½ C

120 g

Salt

½ t

3 g

Egg Yolk

1

Ice Cold Water

¼ – 1/3 C

60-80 ml

C=cup       g=grams        t=teaspoon        ml=millilitres

Pulse together the flour, butter, sugar and salt in a food processor until the butter is reduced to small pea-sized lumps, and the flour is the colour of cornmeal — remove to a medium bowl.

Whisk the yolk together with ¼ C of the ice water, and add to the bowl.  Using a fork or your fingers, mix until the dough comes together into a “shaggy mass” — adding additional water 1 tablespoon at a time if necessary.  The goal is to add just enough water to hold the dough together – it should not be too soft.

Place the dough ball on the counter, and pour any loose flour left in the bowl onto the dough.  Lightly knead the remaining flour into the dough, form the dough into 1 or 2 discs, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least ½ hour.

Preheat the oven to 375˚.

Lightly dust the counter with flour.  Roll the dough into a 10” or 12” circle (depending on the size of your pan), about 1/8” stopping occasionally to run your fingers under the dough to loosen it from the counter and to check for uniform thickness.  Transfer to a tart pan with removable bottom, pressing the dough into the corners and up the sides.

Prick holes all over the bottom of the crust with fork.  Line the bottom of the crust with parchment or waxed paper and pour a layer of uncooked beans or rice onto the bottom (to prevent the crust from bubbling up).

Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes, then remove the beans/rice and parchment and return the crust to the oven for 10 more minutes, until the crust has coloured lightly.

Remove from the oven and cool on a rack.

Tips:

· It takes most 2 or 3 attempts at this crust to learn how much water is needed to just hold the dough together.  Too much water will result in a tough crust.

· If you don’t have a food processor, combine the flour, butter, sugar and salt in a bowl and push the butter and flour through your finger tips until the butter is incorporated as above.

· If you refrigerated the dough for more than ½ hour, you may have to rest it for a few minutes at room temperature before it will be soft enough to roll out.

· To minimize shrinkage:  as you press the dough up the sides of the tart pan, allow it to “slump” in slightly.  Once you have trimmed the dough from the top of the pan, push this “slumped” dough up again, so that extends above the top of the pan.

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