Use this light, flaky dough for pies, tarts, and even cheesecake. It can be made equally well by hand, in a mixer, or in a food processor. Just remember to use cold butter and to stop mixing as soon as the dough comes together. Overmixing will make your crust tough. The recipe can be doubled, but it will not work well if you increase it more than that.
Cut the butter into 1-inch [2.5 cm] cubes. Place it in the mixer bowl with the sugar, salt, and flour. Using the paddle attachment , blend at low speed until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the cream and mix until the dough comes together.
Food Processor Method
Cut the butter into 1-inch [2.5 cm] cubes. Place it in the work bowl with the sugar, salt, and flour. Pulse until the butter is all cut in and the flour takes on a golden tone. Add the cream and pulse just until the dough starts to come together. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured table and gently press it into the table until it comes together.
Combine the sugar, salt, and flour in a bowl and chill in the freezer for half an hour. Cut the butter into 1-inch cubes. Add it to the bowl and toss the ingredients together until the butter is coated with flour. Pinch the flour and butter together until all the butter is in thin flakes. Then begin rubbing small amounts of the mixture between your thumb and fingers, lifting it and letting it drop back into the bowl, until it resembles coarse meal. Pour in the cream. Turn it in with a rubber spatula, turning the flour over repeatedly in the bowl. When all the cream is absorbed, press the dough together against the bottom of the bowl.
Roll out immediately, or shape the dough into a 5-inch [13 cm] round patty. Wrap it well in plastic wrap and chill until needed.
To shape a tart shell:
Use a half -recipe of dough for each tart shell. On a lightly floured surface roll the dough into a 13-inch [33 cm] circle. Fold the dough into quarters and lift it into a 9- or 10-inch [23-26 cm] tart pan. Unfold the circle carefully and settle it into the pan, being sure it reaches into the corners. Gently press the dough against the sides of the pan. Fold the overlapping dough into the pan just to where the sides and bottom meet, to form double-thick sides. Gently press the dough against the sides of the pan, being careful not to press against the bottom. (if the dough is too thin where the sides meet the bottom, it will split during baking.) Trim off the extra dough by running a cutting pin around the top edge. Chill until firm, about 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400°F [205°C]. Line the tart shell with heavy aluminum foil, covering the edges as well as the bottom. Take a fork and poke holes all over the bottom of the shell, piercing both foil and dough. It is important to hold the fork straight down so that the tines will not tear large holes in the dough. Bake until the inside of the shell no longer looks raw (lift the foil and look at it), 15 to 20 minutes. It will still look pale. Remove the foil.
Blind bake as directed above. After 20 minutes of baking, remove the foil and continue baking until the shell is golden brown and has pulled away from the sides of the pan, about 15 minutes more.
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