This is a beautiful, light and crumbly shortcrust pastry. When I made Damien’s shortcrust pastry I halved the end result and made a smaller version of Claude’s onion tart and a delicious tarte tatin for dessert. In his cookbook French this recipe is accompanied by great instructive pictures – however if you read his words carefully, and pay heed to them, the pastry should turn out perfectly.
240 g plain flour, sifted
¼ teaspoon salt
180g cold unsalted butter, cut into 1.5cm dice
60ml ice-cold water
Makes 1×26 – 28cm tart shell or 6 – 8 individual tartlet shells
1. Sift the flour and salt onto a work surface. Scatter the butter over the flour and toss together using a pastry scraper or cooks knife. Sprinkle with water and toss again.
2. Gather the mass close to the front of the work surface. Using the heel of your hand, smear the ingredients away from you in a quick smooth sliding action. Gather the emerging dough back to the starting point and repeat the smearing action – this technique is called fraisage (literally, ‘kneading’).
3. Do not be concerned if little bits of butter are visible in the dough; in fact this indicates that the pastry has not been overworked. Lightly knead the dough, then form into a flattened ball and wrap in greaseproof paper. Chill for 20 minutes, but no longer or the pastry may become too hard to work with.
Damien Pignolet’s cookbook, French, is divine. It is one of the most beautifully presented and organised cookbooks I have come across. Pignolet is the executive chef at Bistro Moncur, and is one of Australia’s most respected, classically trained French chefs. He is renowned for his attention to detail, a quality that is evident throughout his book. This is a must-buy for any cook who wants to learn and understand French cooking; it is written in the style in which professionally trained chefs learn to cook.