Makes one 8-inch to 9-inch tart shell
1 2/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
¼ cup very fine sugar
½ teaspoon salt
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10 tablespoons (1-¼ sticks) unsalted butter, chilled
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cold water
1. Sift the flour, sugar and salt into a mixing bowl. Cut the chilled butter into pieces into the bowl. Using your fingertips, rapidly rub the butter and dry ingredients together until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Be careful to use only your fingertips as your palms will warm the dough.
2. Stir the egg yolks, vanilla and water together and add to the flour-butter mixture and blend in, using a fork. Shape the dough into a ball. This should not take more than 30 to 45 seconds.
3. Place the ball of dough on a pastry board. With the heel of your hand, smear about ¼ cup of the dough away from you into a 6- to 8-inch smear; repeat until all the dough has been smeared. Scrape the dough together, re-form into a ball, wrap in wax paper, and chill for 2 to 3 hours.
4. Roll out the dough between 2 sheets of wax paper (or use a floured pastry cloth and floured stockinette on your rolling pin) into a round large enough to line your pan. Work quickly, as the dough can become sticky.
5. Line an 8- or 9-inch removable-bottom tart pan with the dough, fitting it loosely into the pan and pressing to fit the sides. Trim the edges ¾ inch outside the top of the pan, fold this edge over to the inside, and press into place with your fingers. Cover and chill.
6. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line the dough in the tart pan with a piece of aluminum foil or parchment paper and weight it with beans or rice. Bake for 8 minutes. Remove the foil and beans (re-use beans for blind baking only). Pierce the bottom of the dough with a fork in several places. For a partially baked shell, return to the oven for 3 to 4 minutes longer. For a fully baked shell, bake until the edges are a light brown, 8 to 10 minutes longer.
From “The Silver Palate Cookbook” by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins