When the incorporation of butter and flour is such a bitch in this weather, the recipe had better worth it. The fat had always been cut in with fingers (too darn hot) and two forks (painfully slow). Any flaky dough was approached with a mild sense of tedium and a lot of freezer time.
Last week, I fell in love. Showers of buttery flaky love. The very next day, I made a few calls and went out to buy a pastry blender, because this was one pie dough that I would be making often and I want as little time as possible to stand between me and this dough.
I’ve used it in flaky apple turnovers and simple apple galette. You can make a few batches of this dough and freeze it to throw together a fruit tart for last -minute guests.
1 1/2 cups (187g) all-purpose flour
2 tbsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 sticks (10 tbsp)(141g) very cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces
2 1/2 tbsp very cold vegetable shortening, cut into 2 pieces
About 1/4 cup ice water
If using pastry blender, in sweltering weather:
Put the flour, sugar and salt in a bowl and whisk to combine. Put the bowl of flour mixture and pastry blender in the fridge for 30 minutes to slow down the inevitable melting of the fat, which will make the dough tough instead of flaky.
Remove bowl and dump in the butter and shortening, and cut away. You should end up with ‘some pieces the size of fat green peas and others the size of barley’. Sprinkle in 3.5 tablespoons of ice water. Mix it up gently with your hands. The mixture will be crumbly and that’s fine. Dump the dough onto a piece of cling film and use the film to help squeeze the dough into a rough disk. Wrap it in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes before rolling.
With a food processor:
Put the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor fitted with a metal blade; pulse just to combine the ingredients. Drop in the butter and shortening and pulse only until the butter and shortening care cut into the flour. Don’t overdo the mixing — what you’re aiming for is to have some pieces the size of fat green peas and others the size of barley. Pulsing the machine on and off, gradually add about 3 tablespoons of the water — add a little water and pulse once, add some more water, pulse again and keep going that way. then use a few long pulses to get the water into the flour. If, after a dozen or so pulses, the dough doesn’t look evenly moistened or form soft curds, pulse in as much of the remaining water as necessary, or even a few drops more, to get a dough that will stick together when pinched. Big pieces of butter are fine. Scrape the dough out of the work bowl and onto a work surface.
Shape the dough into a disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour before rolling. (If your ingredients were very cold and you worked quickly, though, you might be able to roll the dough immediately: the dough should be as cold as if it had just come out of the fridge.)