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Breaking All the Rules

September 03, 1997|RUSS PARSONS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

My pie quest began in the pastry kitchen at the restaurant Campanile. I've long been a fan of the little fruit-stuffed pastry bundles that co-founder Nancy Silverton makes, and I wanted to learn how to make them. So I spent one afternoon with her pastry chef, Kimberly Sklar, who let me make the dough with her.

As it turns out, Silverton's pastry dough is highly atypical. In fact, it breaks several of the basic rules of pastry making.

First, it includes one-third high-gluten bread flour in addition to the low-gluten pastry flour. That much gluten should not be necessary for a short pastry dough. Also, the pastry is mixed for a long time. With most pie doughs, you are instructed to handle the dough as little as possible in order not to develop those tough little protein strands.

Still, when I rolled the dough out, it was the smoothest, easiest-working dough I'd ever handled. Don't ask me why it works, but it does.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday September 10, 1997 Home Edition Food Part H Page 2 Food Desk 1 inches; 35 words Type of Material: Correction
In the recipes for the Rustic Peach Tart and Nancy Silverton's Rustic Tart Dough ("Breaking All the Rules," Sept. 3), the instructions failed to state that the dough should be transferred to an ungreased baking sheet before filling, forming and baking.

NANCY SILVERTON'S RUSTIC TART DOUGH

This dough can be used to create free-form rustic tarts (such as the Rusatic Peach Tart on this pae) by spooning sweetened chopped fresh fruit in the center of the disk or disks and then folding the edges over to form a rough pentagon shape. Or you can roll the dough into a rectangle and cut it into 8 smaller rectangles. Wrap those rectangles around some sweetened chopped fresh fruit and bake according to directions for the smaller tarts.

1 cup cake flour

1/2 cup bread flour

2 tablespoons sugar

Dash salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter, cubed

4 teaspoons ice water

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Combine cake flour, bread flour, sugar and salt in bowl of electric mixer. Distribute butter evenly across top and mix with dough paddle at lowest speed until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Do not over-mix.

Alternatively, butter can be worked in by hand. Toss cubes with dry ingredients and then rub cubes quickly and lightly between thumb and forefinger until butter is well-distributed. Again, do not over-mix.

Combine ice water and vanilla and sprinkle over dough. Mix on lowest speed with dough paddle until dough forms rough ball and pulls cleanly away from sides of bowl. This takes much longer than you might expect, 3 to 4 minutes.

Remove dough from bowl to well-floured table or pastry board and gently but firmly knead dough until it is smooth and no longer shaggy at edges, 2 to 3 minutes. Form into ball and flatten into disk. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until very cold, at least 30 minutes.

About 30 minutes before dough is to be rolled out, remove from refrigerator to soften slightly. Working on well-floured area with well-floured pin, gently but firmly roll disk into circle about 1/8-inch thick.

Fill as desired. Bake at 375 degrees 10 minutes, then reduce temperature to 350 degrees. Bake until pastry is firm and lightly browned, checking every 10 minutes to make sure bottom is not scorching. Large tarts will take about 1 hour, smaller shapes about 30 minutes.

8 servings. Each serving, pastry only:

205 calories; 136 mg sodium; 31 mg cholesterol; 12 grams fat; 22 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams protein; 0.48 gram fiber.

RUSTIC PEACH TART

Rustic Tart Dough

2 cups peeled, sliced peaches

3 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1/8 teaspoon cloves

Don't roll the pastry too thin; it's a prime attraction, not just a case for fruit.

Prepare Rustic Tart Dough (see separate recipe) and refrigerate.

Combine peaches, sugar, cornstarch and cloves, then mix well until cornstarch is no longer visible.

Roll out Rustic Tart Dough into circle roughly 1/8-inch thick. Spoon peach mixture in center. Fold up 1 side at point where peaches end. Fold up next side at 90-degree angle and press firmly at corner where 2 sides join. Repeat, circling completely around tart until pentagon results.

Bake at 375 degrees 10 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake until crust is light brown, checking every 10 minutes to make sure crust is not scorching, about 45 to 50 minutes.

8 servings. Each serving:

246 calories; 136 mg sodium; 31 mg cholesterol; 12 grams fat; 32 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams protein; 1.3 grams fiber.

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