Best Butter Crust Ever

This crust recipe is worthy of the best French chef -- the simplest ingredients using a complicated technique that delivers scrumptious results. From fussy Frangipane with pears (full recipe below) to fresh berries glazed with seedless jam (microwave the jam a minute before brushing it over the berries piled in the perfectly baked crust).

Cooked chocolate pudding (make it dark chocolate) also makes a yummy filling. Add a dollop of whipped cream. Not exactly on the low-cal diet menu but I guarantee your family will be in awe!

BUTTER SHORTBREAD TART CRUST
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
dash of salt
1 stick very cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk

Put the flour, sugar and salt in the food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in — mixture will be the size of baby peas. Whisk the yolk in a small bowl before adding it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. Once the egg fully added, process in long pulses about 10 seconds each until the dough forms clumps. Turn the dough onto a work surface. Knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing.

Press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of a 9 inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom. Lightly press the crust in so that the edges of the pieces cling to one another. Don’t press so hard that the crust loses its flakiness. Pierce the crust with a fork to prevent puffing.

If you prefer rolled dough: Chill the dough, wrapped in plastic wrap, for an hour before rolling. Butter a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Roll out chilled dough on floured sheet of parchment paper to 12-inch round. Turn dough occasionally to keep it from sticking to the paper. Using paper as aid, turn dough into 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom; peel off paper. Seal any cracks in dough. Trim overhang to 1/2 inch. Fold overhang in, making double-thick sides. Pierce crust all over with fork.

Whichever method you choose freeze the crust in the pan for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil (or use nonstick foil) and fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust. Freezing the crust eliminates the need to use weights during baking. Put the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 20 minutes.

Carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon or prick it with the tip of a small knife. Bake the crust about 8-10 minutes longer, or until it is firm and golden in color. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool the crust to room temperature before adding fillings for the final baking. If using crust as a base for fresh fruit or cooked pudding allow crust to bake an extra five minutes to turn a darker golden brown; a pale crust has less flavor. Do not allow crust to burn however. Makes enough for one 9-inch tart crust

PEARS
3 cups water
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 medium-size firm but ripe Bartlett or Bosc pears, peeled

Bring water, sugar, and lemon juice to boil in large saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add pears. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until pears are very tender, turning occasionally, about 20 minutes. Cool pears in syrup. Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate.

FRANGIPANE
2/3 cup blanched slivered almonds
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
7 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg
2 teaspoons brandy or cognac


Finely grind almonds and flour in processor. Mix in 7 tablespoons sugar, then butter and brandy. Blend until smooth. Mix in egg. Transfer filling to medium bowl. Cover and chill at least 3 hours. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.)
When ready to bake your pear tart. Position a rack in center of oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Spread almond filling evenly in pre-baked tart crust. Stem pears and cut each in half lengthwise; scoop out cores. Cut each half crosswise into thin slices. Gently press each pear half to fan slices but keep slices tightly overlapped. Slide spatula under pears and arrange atop filling like spokes of wheel with narrow ends in center. Cut one half pear into slices the long way. Fan three slices in between each spoked pear.

Bake tart until golden and toothpick inserted into center of filling comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool tart in pan on rack. Push pan bottom up, releasing tart from pan. Can be made up to 12 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperatureat least 4 hours before serving. Cut tart into wedges; sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired, and serve.

Comments

  1. you have not idea how excited i am to see this. as a unit, and for the crust, and the frangipane recipe. thank you !!

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