Unit 21: Pastry Basics teaches key dough preparations that become the building blocks for finished pastry dishes–sweet and savory alike. In addition to various types of doughs, this unit focuses on custards and introduces the subject of how to prepare soufflés. This ended up being one of my more challenging units as pie crust and I have always had a love/hate relationship. I love to eat crust, but hate the results I have personally gotten. My mother has showed me several times how to make a tender, flaky crust and I consider myself a competent baker, but crust has always alluded me. But because of my success thus far in this course, I have a positive attitude going into this unit. More…
As I progress through the unit, I find myself so hungry…I happen to have a sweet tooth that won’t quit. But it isn’t long before I have a graded assignment to make a tart, but as luck would have it, it is not a sweet tart. I must admit this is entirely my fault as I had the option to make the pumpkin pie, but with Thanksgiving right around the corner, I didn’t want to overdose on the gourd.
To start making my pastry dough, I measured out my butter and put into the freezer. I also measured out the flour and put it in its bowl and set in the fridge. After about 20 minutes, I pulled out the butter and grated it. I then got out some ice water and the flour from the fridge along with a pinch of salt.
To form my dough, I mixed coated the butter with the flour by lightly tossing. I added the water, bit by bit to form the dough, bringing it lightly together. I wrapped it in plastic wrap and let rest in the refrigerator for approximately 1 hour.
I then rolled out the dough to 1/4 of an inch and transferred it to a make-shift tart pan that my husband made for me. I shaped the dough and put it in the freezer for 30 minutes at which point it was firm. I then preheated the oven to 425 degrees Fahernheit. Once up to temp, I took the dough out and poked it with holes and par-baked the shell using dried beans for the first 25 minutes. Then I removed the beans and cooked for another 15 minutes until the dough was just cooked.
To prepare for making the filling, I thinly sliced 7 cups of onions, that is not a typo, 7 cups of onions. I also measured out the oil, salt, and milk, along with the pepper mill and extra salt.
To cook the filling, I heated a large fry pan over high heat. I added the oil and onions and then reduced the heat to medium. I covered the pan and let sweat for about 10 minutes until the onions were soft. I took the lid off and and turned the heat to medium. I cooked for another 20 minutes stirring occasionally. At that point, all of the moisture had evaporated and the onions began to caramelize. I added the salt stirring often to obtain even coloring. I then turned off the heat and deglazed the pan with a bit of water, scraping the sides and bottom of the pan to get all the bits of extra flavor. I then sprinkled in the flour and added the milk, stirring until combined. I seasoned with the salt and pepper, tasted for seasoning, and set aside to cool.
To finish the tart, I turned down the heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. I then scooped the onion filling into the tart shell and spread it out evenly.
I baked for approximately 18 minutes until the top set and the filling and crust formed a cohesive top. I sprinkled with crispy onions for an added textural element. I let cool for 10 minutes before removing, slicing, and serving.
The crust was buttery and flaky. Over all, the dish was extremely rich. I really loved it, but in the future, I will pair it with a light salad. I would also buy a real tart pan! And while I would still not say that I have mastered the crust, I am on my way. I think that after completing all the assignments in the unit, I will have a comfortable handle on crusts, custards, and possibly even soufflés!