Lemon Tart Part 1: Pastry

We had some beautiful weather (25 degrees!) this weekend so we decided to have a barbeque and I decided to make a lemon tart. Every time I make a pie I swear I will never again make it from scratch but sure enough, two months later, I'm rolling out dough swearing under my breath.

I was smart this time, I made the pastry 3 days prior and froze it (which believe it or not is actually good for pastry dough). Pie Pastry was one of the more interesting skills I learned in my cooking classes, and while I am actually pretty good at it, I have a minor aneurysm every time I make it.

This is a classic recipe. The results are very light, very buttery, very flakey. The thing about pastry is that you don't want to overwork it. If it gets warm, gluten strands can start to form which makes it all rubbery and bad. So, while you are working it, keep your hands floured at all times and make sure everything is cold when you start: your butter, your bowl, the water, even the room if possible. If at anytime it starts to warm up, just pop it in the fridge for 20 minutes and come back to it when it has cooled.

There are a ton of various tart pastry recipes but I use a really basic one.

Pastry Dough
Adapted from Epicurious

1 stick cold unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 to 4 tablespoons ice water


Aluma said...

I saw your blog's link on a comment you made on smittenkitchen, so I though I'd check out your blog (clever name!). I completely agree with you about tarts: they are always great in theory except while making the crust. But do you ever find that there is a great sense of accomplishment when you've poured in the filling? That's definitely my favorite part. Also, I loved your comment about finding recipes that match the contents of your pantry. Great job so far! I'm looking forward to more posts :-)

Bitter Endive said...

Thanks so much for reading! You're right, I probably wouldn't keep making pastry if it wasn't so hugely satisfying when finished. Plus, people are always really impressed when you say you made the pastry from scratch.

Thanks again!

laurelvb said...

I'm always interested in how someone else makes a tart/pie shell. I'm never ever happy with mine and totally understand the minor aneurysms. I just have one question. Why do you divide the dough into 4 parts before chilling? Is there a special way you reincorporate them before rolling? BTW that tart shell looks stunning.