Set yourself apart - Be Different!

One way or another you will bake a pie or make a tart! One way or another you will learn to appreciate the ones you make at home, because as ever you can control the sugar content (how sweet or not you wish for the crust to be), aromatics whether or not to use the lemon zest, vanilla seeds, lavender specs….) trust me this is the difference between just another tart or your way of making things!

This recipe is is my favourite pie crust, which I use for single and double crusted pies and tarts. For a double crust simply make 2 disks for a single crust, make one. Unless you wish to be inspired by these beautiful designs I have included for you to set your pies/tarts apart from the rest! It really is very simple: here are some pics for inspiration and a video (below) in case you are thinking it’s too difficult!! So Not!

Beautiful designs, delicious crust, all you need to do is get creative with the fillings. There really is no limit!

Get inspired, pies/tarts links at the end of this post…

Ingredients

  • 178g bread flour
  • 3g DS Himalayan Pink Salt
  • 35g cold lard or vegetable shortening
  • 114g cold unsalted butter cut into cubes
  • 40 ml ice water
  • Seeds of 1 vanilla bean or lemon zest (or any other aromatic)

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, the vanilla and the salt together and set aside.

Place the cold butter, lard and flour mixture in the bowl of a food processor and pulse till mixture resembles crumbs. Do not over mix. Otherwise you can place all in a bowl and cut using a pastry cutter (as in the picture to the side).

Add the water and pulse again (or mix by hand, using the fingertips) until the mixture gets together and forms a small ball. Do not over mix.

The fat should still be lumpy. Turn onto a work surface lined with parchment paper.

Gather the dough into a ball, using your fingertips. Flatten slightly into the shape of a disk (this helps the dough to chill faster).

Wrap with cling film, chill for at least 1 hour before baking.

Make the Shell

Roll the dough in between 2 sheets of parchment paper (3 mm thick).

Transfer to a lined loose-bottom tart tin, or pie plate and gently smooth – with your hands – into place. Press the dough onto the fluted edges. Remove excess dough, and place the lined tin in the fridge for 30 minutes to cool.
Prick the bottom and sides of the tart shell with a fork. Your pie crust is now ready to fill or blind bake following the tart/pie recipe you are recreating.

To Blind Bake

Line the top of the shell with parchment paper and fill with dried beans or baking weights.

Blind bake in a preheated oven (375F, 200C) for about 15 minutes. Remove the beans and the parchment paper, return to the oven, and bake until the shell is light brown and baked through, about 10 minutes longer. Set aside to cool. The final baking is carried out only for single crust pies/tarts that will be filled with a filling that requires no further cooking. Otherwise you will fill the pie/tart right after removing the baking weights and carry out as instructed in your recipe.

 

Tips for guaranteed shell success

The ideal crust has to be light, tender and flaky. It should never be tough, hard to work with or rubbery.
To ensure best results, follow these guidelines and you are guaranteed to achieve success every time.

 

  • Traditionally crust is made using lard. The use of lard results in super flaky crust, but too much lard can have a strong taste, that offsets the whole flavour. Therefore, butter is used along side a little lard in order to achieve best results without the strong flavour of lard. If you are not into lard, you can use vegetable shortening instead. With that said, shortening is not a very healthy option; therefore and if you are still uncomfortable you can go for an all butter crust, but since butter is high in water content and has a low melting point, the dough made of 100% butter is harder to work with than that made with some lard or shortening. Also the use of all butter results in a softer, dryer and crumblier crust. For best Results use a mixture of butter and lard.
  • The ingredients have to be used cold, not at room temperature. Using warm ingredients results in a tough finished product. Use ice water instead of room temperature water, and use cold butter and lard instead of room temp. Rest the dough in the fridge for 30 minutes before rolling.
  • Ideally while making the crust the fat should remain visible in little lumps. That is why we pulse, use finger tips or use a pastry cutter, and never process continuously. The crumbs resulting from the pulsing are actually little separated lumps of fat that clung to the rest of the ingredients. Friction produces heat, so a continuous processing causes friction, which in turn produces heat and softens the fat as it gets warmer. The soft fat will result in it blending into the flour instead of remaining in separate pieces leading to a dough that is hard to work with and which turns out non-flaky after baking.
  • Never knead a short crust, or a flaky crust. Kneading transfers heat from your hands to the dough, which softens and melts the fats. Instead gently bring the dough together (minimal handling) using the fingertips.
  • The flakiness of dough depends immensely on the flour to fat ratio. The more flour is used the harder the dough becomes, the tougher and harder the overall outcome is. Therefore follow the recipe precisely, and use minimal amount of flour when rolling the dough. I find that rolling the dough between two sheets of parchment paper is the best way to exclude the addition of any extra flour.
  • Finally if you have scraps of dough, you must handle them as you would puff pastry scraps. Never knead them, instead layer them on top of each other and roll them out.

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