I’ve made them all. Recipes with a touch of vinegar or vodka. Recipes with a precise blend of cold butter to cold lard. Recipes with yogurt, whole wheat flour, sugar, no sugar, with an egg, flour kept in the freezer first. . . the list goes on.
But for the past two years I’ve made the same recipe. I’ve found a winner. And, though I briefly mentioned it last year in a guest post, I decided that once and for all, I had to share it here.
The Perfect Pastry Dough.
According to me. Which means that it is all-butter, it can be made quickly using only ones fingers and a bowl, or can be made en masse in a food processor for a big holiday event (as I did, making three batches of this, the weekend before Thanksgiving) and one recipe that works for both sweet and savory pies. None of this pâte brisée, pâte sucrée business; freezer space is at a minimum in my home so pastry dough made for immediate use or the freezer is apt to be made into a spinach quiche one day, a rustic strawberry galette or a cherry turnover the next, or even, say, a chocolate pecan tart for the Thanksgiving table.
And the result? Perfect every time, with gorgeous, rich, flaky crusts. Yum.
makes enough for one, large deep-dish pie, two standard-size single crust pies or one standard-size double-crust pie
- 2-1/2 cups of unbleached, all-purpose flour*
- 1 Tablespoon rapadura or sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) of very cold butter, cut into small pieces
- About 1 cup of ice-cold water (seriously, put ice in it until you’re ready to use)
In a bowl or food processor, combine the flour, sugar and salt. Add the butter and, if using your fingers, quickly so as not to get the butter too hot, crumble and sort of press and smear the butter and flour together until you achieve a shaggy, sandy mass. If using a food processor, pulse until you see some pieces of butter small and pea-sized, while others are still quite large, then stop! Don’t over-mix at this stage.
Add in about a half cup of the ice water (strain the ice cubes) and pulse or mix until it is just incorporated. Then, add a little bit more, about a tablespoon at a time, until your dough holds together when pressed together with your fingers. It will NOT be a coherent mass in the bowl, it’ll still look a bit shaggy, but when pressed together it holds well. Do not overprocess or add too much water!
I normally use about 2/3 cups of water per batch of dough, but this will differ depending on temperature and humidity of both the ingredients and the atmosphere.
Place a sheet of plastic wrap on your counter and dump the contents on the bowl on top. Using the plastic wrap, gently press the dough together until you achieve a combined mass.
If you are going to use for a deep-dish pie (I use a springform pan for quiche) or for a free-form gallette, simply form the entire quantity of dough into a disc, wrap the pie crust up in the plastic wrap, place in a ziploc bag, and refrigerate for two hours, and up to two days, before use. Freeze for longer storage.
If you are going to use for a double-crust or two standard, single-crust pies, using a pastry cutter, cut the dough in half and then form each into smaller discs. Wrap each up separately in plastic wrap and store together in a ziploc bag.
To use, simply allow to defrost in the fridge and then warm briefly for about twenty minutes outside of the fridge before rolling out. Cover counter and rolling pin with flour and, using broad strokes from the center out, roll out each disc into a rough circle, using a pastry cutter to unstick from the counter and turning the dough and re-flouring, as needed to avoid sticking.
*I know that normally I endorse using sprouted and/or whole grain flours when appropriate in baking, but, unless you have access to a really lovely, fine pastry flour made from soft winter wheat, I think that all-purpose is the way to go for pastry compared to whole grain flours that you can buy in the store. Just think of it, when eating a slice or two of quiche for dinner, as a portion of that 80/20 rule of good eating! Then top it with sour cream and move on!
This post is written in conjunction with the Whole Foods for the Holidays, Desserts edition carnival. Please go and visit the other contributors!