Put the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor. All ingredients should be cold. Add the pieces of butter, and process for approximately 10 seconds, or just until the mixture resembles coarse meal. (To mix by hand, combine the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Using a pastry blender or 2 table knives, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal.) Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water, drop by drop, through the feed tube with the machine running (or into the bowl if mixing by hand), just until the dough holds together without being wet or sticky; do not process more than 30 seconds. Test the dough at this point by squeezing a small amount together. If it is crumbly, add a bit more water. Turn the dough out onto a large piece of plastic wrap. Grasping the ends of the plastic wrap with your hands, press the dough into a flat circle with your fists. This makes rolling easier than if the pastry is chilled as a ball. Wrap the dough in the plastic, and chill for at least 1 hour. Lightly butter or spray with vegetable cooking spray the pie plates or tart pans you will be using. On a lightly floured board, roll out the pastry to a thickness of 1/8-inch. Place the pastry in a plate, pan or in a pastry ring that has been set on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and press it into the bottom edges and along the sides. Trim the pastry using scissors or a sharp paring knife, or by rolling a rolling pin across the top of the pan. Cutting the pastry an inch or so higher than the edge of the tart pan and tucking this overhang to the inside of the pan will give extra height and reinforcement. Crimp or decorate the edges of the pastry, if desired. Chill the pastry-lined pan until ready to use. Unbaked pastry shells can be refrigerated, wrapped in plastic, for up to 1 day; for longer storage, they can be frozen.;
Note: Yield: 2 (8 to 10-inch) tarts or single-crust pies, 1 (8 to 10-inch) double-crust pie, or 12 (2 1/2 to 3-inch) tartlets;
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