Pate1 (Sweet Pastry Dough)

Yield: 1 1/2 pounds, enough for two 10-inch tart shells

This lightly sweetened dough recipe comes from Nancy's first book, Desserts. It is a perfect; there is no need to ever have another. This pastry dough is tender and cookielike, yet it holds its shape so well, so it's perfect for lining tart shells that need to be prebaked. Any leftover scraps could be cut into small shapes, such as animal cookies, and baked just like tart shell.

  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached pastry or all-purpose flour, plus additional for dusting
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
  • 2 extra-large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream, plus extra as needed

Put the flour on a smooth work surface, add the sugar, and mix to combine. Add the pieces of butter to the flour, and toss to coat. Then, using the tips of your fingers, crumble the butter to a coarse cornmeal-like consistency, keeping the butter pieces well coated with the flour mixture to prevent it from becoming greasy.

Form the mixture into a mound, and make a large well in the center. Into the well, add the egg yolks and the heavy cream. Using the fingers of one hand briefly stir the eggs an cream together, then begin to draw in the butter and flour mixture. When it is completely incorporated, the dough should be very sticky. If not, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of extra cream. Gather the dough together into a loose ball.

Lightly dust your work surface and one have with flour. Using the heel of your hand, begin to smear small portions of the dough away from you. The smearing process is messy and sticky, but it blends the ingredients together with the least working of the dough. It may be necessary to dust your hand with flour a number of times. When all the dough is smeared out, use a dough scraper or metal spatula to collect all the dough, and reincorporate it into one mass. Scrape the work surface clean.

Clean and completely dry your hands. Lightly dust your hands and the surface again with flour. Knead the dough a few times, form it into a smooth ball, flatten it slightly into a disk, and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm. about 2 to 4 hours, before rolling to desired shape. The dough can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, or it will keep in the freezer for several weeks.>

Alternately, the dough can be made in an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or if absolutely necessary, a food processor using a metal blade. In either machine, combine the flour and the sugar, and mix completely. Add the small pieces of butter, and mix just to a coarse cornmeal-like consistency.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and the heavy cream, and pour into the flour mixture. It may be necessary to add as much as 2 tablespoons of extra cream to make the dough moist enough to form a ball. Mix just until the cream and eggs bring the dough together into a rough ball. Lightly dust your hands and a smooth work surface with flour.

Turn the dough on to the work surface, knead the dough a few times, form it into a smooth ball, and flatten it slightly into a disk. Wrap it in plastic wrap.

Recipe from Mark Peel & Nancy Silverton's The Food of Campanile
© 1997 by Mark Peel & Nancy Silverton. All rights reserved