Pastry is one of those areas of expertise that many of us tend to leave to our grandmothers—or if we are lucky—our moms. We cherish our memories of apple pies or cherry pies baked with a love that has encompassed our families for generations.
Well, guess what? We are the next generation! It is now our responsibility—to ourselves, and to our children—to pass down this lovely tradition so that it is not lost.
I am reading about the culinary history of America during the Great Depression, and it is absolutely fascinating.
Farmhouse women baked pies regularly, up to a dozen at a time. Pies were made with pig lard, and the people could handle the calories—almost 5,000 per day—because they performed so much physical work.
The following is an excerpt from "A Square Meal" by Jane Ziegelman & Andrew Coe.
"The midday meal concluded with a solid wedge of pie. Like bread, pies were baked in bulk, up to a dozen at a time, and could be consumed at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The type changed with the seasons, beginning in spring with rhubarb and strawberry and ending in fall with apple. In winter, when the cache of fresh apples was depleted, women made pie from apples that had been dried in the fall. Peach and cherry, fruits from the farmer's own orchard, were two summer staples, though women also took advantage of wild blackberries, elderberries, blueberries, and grapes."
Ask Your Grandmother
I would like to encourage you to get comfortable with making pastry.
A pastry like Flaky Tart Pastry is really not difficult. It is only important to follow the steps exactly. I’ve made this recipe as simple to follow as possible.
The recipe source is Tartine, a cookbook by Elizabeth M. Prueitt and Chad Robertson, the famous husband-wife team behind the beloved San Francisco-based Tartine bakery, one of the most well known bakeries in America.We cannot loose the art of making pastry in America. It is a tradition worth preserving.Click To Tweet
Unfortunately, I did not realize the importance of passing on traditions before both my grandmothers passed away, one very recently. When I attended her funeral though, I was very touched by a recollection of grandma Anne Ell's Saskatoon berry pies that she made while camping from berries her grandchildren collected from the forest.
Her grandchildren had no idea how she managed to make those beautiful pies without a rolling pin!
I regret that I never learned to make pie from grandma, so for this Flaky Tart Pastry, I am going to have to trust that Tartine knows how to do it. Let’s give it a try …
Tartine’s Flaky Tart Pastry
- 1 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
- ⅔ cup water, very cold
- 3 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup plus 5 tablespoons, unsalted butter, very cold
Method for making flaky tart pastry
- Tartine’s Flaky Tart Pastry recipe makes two 9-inch shells. If you only need one shell for your recipe, the other can be wrapped well and refrigerated for use within a week, or frozen for longer storage.
- Start by dissolving 1 teaspoon salt in ⅔ cup very cold water. Keep cold until needed.
- Prepare your cold butter by cutting it into 1-inch pieces.
- You can either make this recipe in a food processor, or in a bowl. If you make it in a bowl it really helps to have a pastry blender. This is a tool with multiple blades for cutting through the butter, and it is just the right shape to fit in a bowl. An alternative is to use two knives to cut through the butter.
- If you make this in a food processor, you add the flour and butter pieces, and pulse until the butter is in pea-sized pieces. If you make it in a bowl, use the pastry cutter or two knives to cut the butter into pea-sized pieces.
- Sprinkle in the very cold salted water and carefully pulse, or use a fork to bring the dough together into a shaggy ball.
- Turn the shaggy dough onto a floured work surface and divide into two pieces. Shape each into a 1-inch thick disk. Wrap well in plastic and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
- When you are ready to bake the dough, place your cold disk on a lightly floured work surface, and roll it out into a circle about ⅛ inch thick. For the pie dish, the circle should be 2 inches larger than the dish. For a tart dish, the circle should be 1 ½ inches larger. To transfer, carefully fold the shell into quarters, and transfer it onto the dish. Open your folds and carefully mold the shell to the dish.
- Trim the dough evenly with the rim of the dish. If you are using a pie pan, you can keep an extra ½ inch, turn it under, and flute with a fork to create a fancy edge.
- Chill the prepared shell for at least 30 minutes before baking to ensure a flaky crust. You can also wrap and freeze the prepared shell, and there is no need to thaw it before baking.
Partially bake or fully bake your tart shell
- Depending on your recipe, you will need your dough raw, partially baked, or fully baked.
- To partially bake or fully bake the shell, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line the prepared pastry shell with parchment paper, and fill with pie weights, or use large dry beans saved for this purpose.
- For your partially baked crust, bake until the shell looks dry and pale, with no dense or opaque areas left. It will take around 20 minutes.
- Remove from oven, remove the weights, and then bake for few more minutes until lightly brown. If any area along the bottom puffs up, gently pierce it to release the air, being careful not to create any holes in the shell itself.
- For a fully baked shell, bake with weights until the shell is lightly brown all over, and then return to the oven until golden brown all over.