Monday, November 23, 2009

Deluxe Butter Pastry Dough

This dough is richer in fat than ordinary flaky pastry and so, is softer and more difficult to handle, but it yields a tender, flaky crust with great butter flavor. While it is possible to make this dough with butter only, a small amount of shortening makes it flakier without interfering with the buttery taste. When you’re working with the butter, work quickly or the dough will become greasy. If you notice the butter starting to melt, chill the dough until the butter becomes firm again. Since this dough tends to puff out of shape during baking, you should not use it to make a crust with a tightly fluted or braided edge or a lattice top (I do a simple finger crimped edge). If you need only a single pie or tart crust, decrease all ingredients by half or freeze half the dough for another pie.

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
½ pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
¼ cup solid vegetable shortening
⅓ cup plus 3 tablespoon ice water; divided

In a large bowl, thoroughly mix the flour sugar and salt with a rubber spatula. Working quickly to prevent softening, cut butter into ¼-inch pieces. Add the butter to the dry ingredients. Using a pastry blender or two knives, chop the butter into pea-sized pieces. With a few quick swipes of the pastry blender, cut the shortening into large chunks and distribute throughout the bowl. Continue to chop with the pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some pea-sized pieces. Do not let the mixture soften and begin to clump; it must remain dry and powdery. Drizzle ⅓ cup plus 1 tablespoon of the ice water over the flour and fat mixture. Cut with the blade side of the rubber spatula until the mixture looks evenly moistened and begins to form small balls. Press down on the dough with the flat side of the spatula. If the balls of dough stick together, you have added enough water; if they do not, drizzle 1 to 2 tablespoons of ice water over the top. Cut in the water, then press with your hands until the dough coheres. The dough should look rough, not smooth. Divide the dough in half, press each half into a round flat disk, and wrap tightly in plastic. Refrigerate for at least one hour, preferably for several hours, or for up to 2 days before rolling. The dough can also be wrapped airtight and frozen for up to 6 months; thaw completely before rolling.

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