Wednesday, December 1, 2010

First Time For Everything

Third Time's a Charm

As a new member of the food blogging society, there are certain things I notice and look for when reading other blogs. I like to search the web for new recipes to try and tend to lean more toward recipes from personal blogs. I like these because the blogger usually gives more description about the recipe than a big-name website would. One thing I would like to see more of though -admitting mistakes or mess-ups. I know, from experience, not everything comes out the way you plan - in baking and in life. No one is perfect.

So let me start off by saying that it took me 3 tries to get this tart crust right. Three times! The first time, the dough seemed way too dry with only one large egg yolk, so I added another. And then when it still seemed too dry, I added another. Bad idea. It was too yolky and yellow and I knew it was going to lose it's flaky texture. Basura!

So I started fresh. Pulsed all the ingredients together in the food processor with only 1 egg yolk this time. But again, it was too dry for me to form into a dough! So I added a few tablespoons of water. Awful idea. The dough was too wet and sticky, and again, I knew it was going to lose it's flaky texture.

For the third and last time, all ingredients went into the food processor, no more, no less. I didn't care how dry it was, I was going to make it into a dough. So I poured it onto a lightly floured counter top and kneaded it so that all the dry ingredients were incorporated. I gently pressed it into the pan and baked it with no problems.

The trick with this crust is, that when you knead it on the counter, you are supposed to use your hands to incorporate all the dry ingredients in so they combine with the wet ingredients. It works. Don't panic. Your patience is well worth it because this crust really is delicious.

Sweet Tart Dough
Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup confectioners' sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (4 1/2 ounces) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1 large egg yolk

To make the dough: Put the flour, confectioners' sugar and salt in the workbowl of a food processor and pulse a couple of times to combine. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is cut in coarsely - you'll have pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and pea-size pieces and that's just fine. Stir the egg, just to break it up, and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. When the egg is in, process in long pulses - about 10 seconds each - until the dough, which will look granular soon after the egg is added, forms clumps and curds. Just before your reaches this clumpy stage, the sound of the machine working the dough will change - heads up. Turn the dough out onto a work surface.

Very lightly and sparingly - make that very, very lightly and sparingly - knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing.

If you want to press the dough into a tart pan, now is the time to do it.

[If you want to chill the dough and roll it out later (doable, but fussier than pressing), gather the dough into a ball (you might have to use a little more pressure than you used to mix in dry bits, because you do want the ball to be just this side of cohesive), flatten it into a disk, wrap it well and chill it for at least 2 hours or for up to 1 day.]

To make a press-in crust: Butter the tart pan and press the dough evenly along the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Don't be stingy - you want a crust with a little heft because you want to be able to both taste and feel it. Also, don't be too heavy-handed - you want to press the crust in so that the pieces cling to one another and knit together when baked, but you don't want to press so hard that the crust loses its crumbly shortbreadish texture. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.

To partially bake the crust: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and fit the foil tightly against the crust. Bake the crust 25 minutes, then carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon. Bake for another 3 to 5 minutes, then transfer the crust to a cooling rack; keep it in its pan.

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