Lindsey Shere's short crust tart shell
Adapted from Chez Panisse Desserts by Lindsey Remolif Shere.
Makes one 9-inch pastry shell. You'll need a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Do not use a black tart pan, as the pastry may burn if you do.
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
1/2 cup butter, not too cold, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Note: You can use salted butter instead of unsalted; if you do, simply omit the salt.
1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt and lemon peel. Using your fingers or a pastry blender, work the butter into the flour mixture until the butter is in mostly cornmeal-size pieces and the mixture is beginning to hold together – the softer your butter is, the faster this will happen. You can make this pastry with butter that is quite soft, as long as you don't work it too much.
2. Combine the water and vanilla and work it into the flour=butter mixture until the pastry is just blended and will hold together if you press it. Gather it into a ball and wrap it in plastic. Let it rest for 30 minutes in the fridge so the flour will absorb the moisture more completely. At this point, you can either use the dough or wrap it in foil and freeze it for up to a month.
3. Use your fingers to press the pastry into a 9-inch tart pan, making sure you have a layer of even thickness over the bottom and the sides. Use a fork to "dock" the dough, poking holes all around the bottom, so bubbles don't form as it bakes. Before baking, set the shell in the freezer for 30 minutes or overnight, wrapped in foil.
4. Heat oven to 375 degrees F. You don't need to fill the shell with pie weights before baking; this pastry doesn't shrink much. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until it is light golden brown and baked all the way through.