Unsalted butter is the shortening in this very delicate pastry, so the method for combining and kneading this dough is similar to making puff pastry. Flour, sugar, salt, egg and vanilla also go into this dough. Fill the finished pastry with your favorite
INGREDIENTS (for 8 servings):
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons white sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2/3 cup unsalted butter, cubed
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Sift together the flour, sugar, and salt into a bowl.
Toss butter through flour mixture to coat pieces. Using fingertips, rub fat into flour, working it until you have created a coarse meal with a few pea-size particles of fat.
Empty crumbs onto a cool surface. Form mixture into a mound. Make a 4 to 5 inch well in center of the mound. Combine egg and vanilla and pour mixture into the well. Using a fork, draw crumbs into egg mixture, about 1 - 2 tablespoons at a time. When all crumbs are added, toss mixture a few times with a pastry blender to form large clumps, then scrape into a mound.
Using the heel of your hand, push 2 - 3 tablespoons of the dough at a time, outward in 6 to 8 inch sweeps. This will blend fat and flour and give crust a delicate texture. If your hand becomes sticky, flour it as needed. Repeat process until all dough has been worked. Gather dough into a mound again. Repeat procedure 2 more times.
After third time, flour your hands. Gently knead the dough 5 or 6 times to make it smooth. Shape into a 5 inch disk. Dust disk lightly with flour, score with side of your hand, cover with plastic wrap, refrigerate for 20 minutes before shaping. DO NOT LET DOUGH BECOME TOO HARD or it will be difficult to roll. If this happens, let pastry soften at room temperature.
Roll out to 1/8 inch thickness. After dough has been rolled, position rolling pin 4 inches from top of the pastry. Lift dough over top of rolling pin and gently roll dough toward you. Lift pastry up. Make sure you keep a finger pressed against barrel of rolling pin to keep it from slipping. Position pastry, leaving about 1 1/2 inches of dough hanging over edge of pan on side closest to you. Then unroll pastry over an ungreased tart pan, moving pin away from you. Immediately lift overhang into pan to prevent sharp edge of the pan from cutting dough.
Working a small portion of the dough at a time, mold it into crease of the pan. Trim excess pastry from top edge of pan. Chill pastry in refrigerator or freezer for up to 30 minutes. Tear an 18 inch square of tin foil. Make a buttered circle in center of foil 2 inches larger than size of pan. Place foil buttered side down, centering it into the baking pan. Using your hand, press foil flush against the sides.
Heat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Position shelf in lower third of oven. Fill pan with enough dried beans or baking nuggets to just cover surface of pan. DO NOT OVERFILL. Bake pastry shell on a shallow pan with sides. Bake crust 15 to 18 minutes or until sides begin to brown. Remove pan from the oven. Let stand about 30 seconds. Gently remove foil and beans. Reduce oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Continue to bake crust for 3 to 5 minutes or until it is golden. If bottom of pastry shell puffs up, tap it gently with bottom of a fork to expel the air. Do this carefully so the pastry crust doesn't break. When crust is done, cool completely before filling.