Saturday, March 24, 2007

Basic Pastry Dough

Makes enough for a single crust 9-inch pie or a 9- to 11-inch tart, or for a double crust 9-inch pie.
Active time: 10 minutes
Start to finish: 1 1/4 hours (includes chilling)
For a single crust pie or a tart
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons cold vegetable shortening
1/4 teaspoon salt
3-4 tablespoons ice water
For a double-crust pie
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup cold vegetable shortening
1/2 teaspoon salt
4-6 tablespoons ice water
Blend together flour, butter, shortening, and salt in a bowl with your fingers or a pastry blender (or pulse in a food processor) just until mixture resembles coarse meal with some small (roughly pea sized) lumps of butter. For a single crust pie or tart, drizzle 3 tablespoons ice water evenly over mixture and gently stir with a fork (or pulse) until incorporated.
Squeeze a small handful of dough: if it doesn't hold together, ad more ice water 1/2 tablespoon at a time, stirring or pulsing until incorporated. Do not overwork dough or pastry will be tough.
Turn dough out onto a work surface. For a single-crust pie or tart, divide into 4 portions; for a double-crust pie, divide into 8 portions. With heel of your hand, smear each portion once or twice in a forward motion to help distribute fat. Gather all dough together, with a pastry scraper if you have one. For single-crust pie or tart, press into a ball, then flatten into a 5-inch disk. For a double-crust pie, divide in half, and then flatten each into a 5-inch disk. If dough is sticky, dust lightly with additional flour. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least one hour.
Cook's note:
The dough can be refrigerated for up to 1 day.