I have been whining about my food processor for a number of entries and it has repayed me by bursting into flames. I am not kidding. We’re not talking kneading rye bread dough for a half an hour we’re talking about a wispy little cup cake batter that is mostly eggs and sugar and maybe 9 quick pulses. Let me be honest before I add this to the rant category I must say that I have contacted the manufacturer and amazingly for a Spanish subsidiary of a French company they are seemingly stepping up to the plate... now all I have to do is find the receipt. Let this be a warning to you... always... I repeat keep the reciept on this kind of stuff. We’ll see... I am hoping for the best. I am hoping that I can rave about their service. I am hoping that they hire me as a consultant so we can make the mother of all food processors. Up to this point unnamed small appliance maker...I await your call.
Anyway this fiery event has had one positive side effect, it has given me a reason to return to my pastry roots. So let us now revisit our pate brisee and it’s supporting roll in the making of a tart tatin. This recipe is adapted from America’s Test Kitchen's Vodka Pate Brisee. Why the booze? The hooch evaporates, leaving happy little air pockets. Air pockets equals flaky pastry.
Again the ingredients:
- 350 g (2.5 cups) all purpose flour
- 225 g (1 cup) of chilled salted butter (cut into ¼ to ½ inch cubes)
- 1 tablespoon sugar (if you are making something savoury you might want to leave this out)
- 60 ml/2 oz vodka
- 60ml/2 oz cold water
- ½ teaspoon salt
Get yourself a nice big bowl. I love the stainless steel ones I get from the Chinese Bazaar. They are really big, really cheap and really light and I suspect will last far longer than I would like them too. I will try to do another entry on inappropriate cooking cooking equipment. Anyway put all the dry ingredients; the flour, the salt and the sugar (if you are using it) in the above described big bowl. Mix it together thoroughly... you might has well get used to using your hands... they will come into play in the not too distant future.
Now add your cubed chilled butter. I try to distribute this as evenly as possible. Remember as before the butter should remain as cold as possible If the dough gets greasy the fat has separated from parte uno.
Using the French technique of only using one hand (you save the other to operate the camera with) sort of roll the butter and flour together against the palm of your hand. You should wind up with sort of thin and wide butter flour flakes. Work you way through the flour.
Next step, rub the resultant butter flour flakes between the palm of your hands... the movement is like you are trying to keep your hands warm or are starring in a “b” movie and indicating that all your scheming and back stabbing is about to pay off... you may throw in a hysterical cackle if it helps you get into character.
Again remembering that melted butter results in greasy concrete. Keep cool... and keep moving. As with the food processor version you want it to end up having a thick cornmeal couscous like vibe.
Now drizzle half of the chilled vodka water mixture on the soon to be pie dough and again work it in with your hands. It should start to make bigger clumps. This is hard to describe and I hope my pictures help but you want to kind of smoosh it together. I could say “knead” but that’s way to heavy handed, just get it so the liquid and the couscous like stuff are getting friendly. Add more liquid until all the couscous clumps stick together.
Gather the dough into a ball and now give it a “few” kneads. Tear the dough into two halves. Both get wrapped in plastic wrap. One goes into the freezer for future projects (just thaw it out and use as you would freshly made dough) and one goes into the refrigerator because let’s face it unless you are a vampire your hands are warm and have been all over this stuff for quite a while... again remember flaky pie dough is all about keeping the butter fat solids... solid. Anyway a half hour of chillin’ in the reefer should do it.
Now making a thick disk of dough just roll it out as before... you can use the plastic wrap trick... it work’s great. It as well as the tart tatin recipe can be found here.