Our first assignment in pastry class was this: construct an authentic sweet apple tart, complete with crust, compote, design, and glaze. In French, a Taute Aux Pommes. I don’t speak French, or any romantic language. I failed beginner Italian my first year of college ... in a nutshell AWFUL. So bear with me ... The crust was a basic pate sucree, which literally means a sweet french tart crust. There are many variations but personally (we didn’t do this) the addition of salt would help amplify the sweet components of the dough.
Eggs should always be large and at room temperature. Butter is always unsalted and better at room temperature unless it calls for it to be “cold.” The difference between cake flour and all-purpose flour is the amount of protein it contains. In essence, how much gluten it has. Bread flour has the most, followed by all-purpose, and then cake.
Everything is done in metric units, which is easier once you understand how to. Use a scale. It’s so much simpler than adding or splitting fractions (which is what you would do in the case of half-ing a recipe that say, calls for 1/2 cup cake flour, which would now need 1/4 cup). Make sense? Here’s the dough recipe with my personal touch and advice.
125 grams powdered sugar 250 grams butter 3 eggs 500 grams cake flour 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
In a mixer with paddle attachment, cream powdered sugar and butter until light and fluffy. This may take a few minutes, be patient.
Crack all eggs in a SEPARATE bowl and whisk. Then combine one at a time (estimate, you know what an egg looks like), and beat until the mixture becomes homogenous. This is the emulsion process which means the combination of fat and water. The mixture will start looking grainy and lumpy but when well combined it looks shiny and together. Do this with each egg.
Add the cake flour and baking powder at the same time and blend. Key word being BLEND, just until together. Working the dough too much cause too much gluten, making the dough tough.
Separate dough and refrigerate it until firm.
Roll out to create tart crust.