Thursday, January 4, 2007

Pastry Dough

This classic pastry dough works well for both savory and sweet pies. I do not use the food processor for this recipe because there is a risk of overworking the dough. I prefer the control of a pastry blender (seen at right).

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons cold vegetable shortening, preferably trans-fat-free
3 to 4 tablespoons ice water

Special equipment: pastry blender; pastry or bench scraper

  1. Sift together flour and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Blend in butter and shortening with your fingertips or a pastry blender until most of mixture resembles coarse meal with some small (roughly pea-size) butter lumps.
  3. Drizzle evenly with 3 tablespoons ice water and gently stir with a fork until incorporated.
  4. Squeeze a small handful: If it doesn't hold together, add more ice water, 1/2 tablespoon at a time, stirring until just incorporated, then test again. (Do not overwork, or pastry will be tough.)
  5. Turn out mixture onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 4 portions. With the heel of your hand, smear each portion once or twice in a forward motion to help distribute fat. Gather dough together with scraper and press into a ball, then flatten into a 5-inch disk. Chill dough, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap or sealed tightly in a zipper bag, until firm, at least 1 hour. Note: Dough can be chilled up to 1 day.
Makes enough dough for a 9- to 10-inch round shell.

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