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Basic Pastry Dough
*1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, chilled
*3/4 tsp. salt
*2 tbls. sugar (for sweet pastry dough)
*9 tbls. unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-sized pieces and chilled
*3 to 4 tbls. ice water
1Pour the flour into a mound on a countertop. Add the salt, and sugar, if you're making sweet pastry, and toss well. Work the butter into the flour with the tops of your fingers until the butter is in small pea-sized pieces. Add the water 2 tablespoons at a time, tossing with your fingers to incorporate the water into the dough. Add more as needed. The dough should be crumbly.
2Form the dough into a mound and then, using the heel of your hand, gradually push all the dough away from you, flattening out the lumps. Continue until all the dough is flat. Form the dough into a mound and repeat the process one more time. Do not work the butter completely into the mixture - the streaks of butter are what will make the crust flaky.
3Shape the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate at least 1 hour to allow it to rest before using.
4Makes About ¾ Pound; Enough for One 10- to 11-inch Piecrust or One 11-inch Tart Shell
In the Hands of a Chef: Cooking with Jody Adams of Rialto Restaurant by Jody Adams and Ken Rivard (HarperCollinsPublishers; January 2002)