[Pascale's Short Crust Pastry]
As surprising as it may seem -- to me at least -- this is the very first savory crust I make from scratch in my entire life. Before that, I would hop gaily to the nearest grocery store for a ready-made, and conveniently pre-rolled dough.
In truth, savory tarts and quiches had sort of fallen out of fashion in my kitchen, because they are so ubiquitous they just didn't excite me that much. But my recent return into the world of tartes salées, after more than a year of tragic disaffection, was met with rave reviews (I have kind friends) and converted me back.
So when Marion came for dinner last week, I thought I would make another tart. I could have used the last portion of the hazelnut-thyme dough in the freezer, but I have solemnly promised my neighbor Patricia that I would use it in a tart for her and I am a woman of my word, so that was out.
Instead, I decided to try my hand at a simple, straightforward pâte brisée, and started looking for a recipe. You'd think the world could reach a consensus at least on such a simple question, but oh no. No no no. Every new recipe was different from the previous one, my head was starting to spin, I was on the brink of discouragement (and let me tell you, I have seen more comfortable brinks), when suddenly I saw the light. And in the light, I recognized a familiar, friendly face : it was Pascale. Of course! Pascale was sure to have a reliable recipe for pâte brisée!
And indeed she did, complete with the helpful and thorough instructions she always takes the time to give. And that dough was a breeze to make, so soft and fresh it felt alive (oh my god it is alive!). It proved laughably easy to handle and roll out, and the resulting crust wowed us with its delicately flaky texture and wonderful taste. Merci Pascale!
[As for the tart that was made with the crust, read on!]
La Pâte Brisée de Pascale
- 200 grams (7 ounces) all-purpose flour
- 125 grams (4 1/2 ounces) salted butter, diced -- cold if using a food processor, at room-temperature if you're mixing the dough by hand.
- 1 egg
- a little cold water
(Translated and adapted with Pascale's kind permission.)
In a food processor, combine the flour and the butter. Run it for about ten seconds, until you get a breadcrumb consistency. Add in the egg and mix again until it forms a ball. If the dough is still a little dry, add in a little water, a tiny splash at a time, until the dough comes together. (If you've added too much water, fret not, compensate with more flour.) Transfer the dough into a bowl, and let rest for a few minutes.
[If you are woefully food-processor-deprived, pour the flour in a medium mixing-bowl and form a well. Add the diced butter and beaten egg into the well, and rub them into the flour with the tips of your cute, clean little fingers. Add in a bit of cold water as needed to form the dough into a ball.]
Roll the dough out on a well-floured surface, and transfer onto onto a 22-cm (10-inch) tart pan. Prick the bottom and sides with a fork. Cover with aluminium foil, and let rest in the fridge for thirty minutes to an hour. (Pascale notes that unlike most recipes suggest, she prefers to let the dough rest after she has rolled it out, because it is easier to handle when freshly made.) You can freeze the dough at this point, wrapped in a plastic bag.
Most savory tart recipes call for par-baking the dough : this is called "cuisson à blanc" in French, and it consists in baking the dough on its own first, because it won't bake as well once the filling is in place. Preheat your oven to 180°C (360°F), take the dough out of the fridge/freezer and bake for ten minutes (15 if the dough is frozen) or until golden.
To prevent the dough from rising as it bakes (a problem which doesn't arise as much when you bake it from frozen), some recipes have you cover the dough with baking parchment and baking beans. But this is sort of a pain (especially when you want to remove those piping hot little beans when the dough is ready) and I have also noticed that the bottom of the dough doesn't bake as quickly as the sides, which can be a problem. Once again, Pascale rushes to the rescue with her own unorthodox (her word) way of doing it, which is to open the oven door and press down on the rebel dough with a (clean) kitchen glove.
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