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Pie crust: 6 steps for success

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(CBS News) There's something very soothing about making dough - cutting butter into flour; adding sugar, salt, egg, water; slowly and patiently incorporating the ingredients together. It was such a nice change of pace from our normal beat-the-clock mentality in class.

Little did we know, we were prepping for one of the most chaotic nights we've had so far: Tart Night.

Tarts are great to make at home, where you have all the time in the world to prep and cook. When facing a deadline, however, these delicious creations can be very tedious. Every step is deceivingly time consuming, from rolling out the dough, to making the filling, and peeling, coring and slicing all of the fruit.

Video: Pie crust: 6 steps for success

One tart, even two, would have been completely doable in one class. Three tarts, however, was insanity. Forty-five minutes after the official "end" of class, we were still waiting for our last tart to come out of the oven.

On nights like these, small timesaving tips really add up and impact the success (or failure) of your dish. Never underestimate how much time and energy you can save overall on doing the small stuff in the most efficient and effective way.

In the video above, I demonstrate six easy dough tips that were massively helpful in making my tarts as pretty as possible in that oh-so-hectic class. Even if you aren't in a rush, these tips will ensure your crust looks as perfect as possible.

Watch the video to learn to work with your pastry dough.

P.S. The tarts were totally worth it. Yum!

Keep an eye out for our apple tart demo, and remember to follow us on Twitter and Pinterest!

Some recipes for you:

Quiche Lorraine
Adapted from The International Culinary Center

Photo courtesy Michelle Velasquez Cinotti.
  • 1 recipe pate brisee (or buy pre-made dough)
  • Butter for your tart ring
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 3 slices bacon, cut into 1 inch slices
  • 1/4 cup gruyere cheese
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Salt, as needed
  • Cayenne pepper, pinch
  • Nutmeg, pinch
  • 1 egg, for egg wash
  • Parsley sprigs, for garnish

1. Roll out dough and place it in a small, buttered ring (any tart pan works, best with a removable bottom). Refrigerate until cold

2. Cook the bacon in oil until lightly browned. Remove from pan and reserve.

3. Mix milk, heavy cream, egg yolk, salt, cayenne and nutmeg in bowl.

4. Blind bake* the empty pastry shell in a preheated 400F oven for about 15 minutes, or until it looks white and chalky. (NOTE: Line dough with parchment paper and fill with dry beans or uncooked rice before putting in oven.) Remove the beans carefully and pop the crust it back into the oven for another 5 minutes.

5. Remove it from the oven and distribute the cheese and bacon evenly on the bottom of the crust. Pour the custard mixture over it.

6. Bake in a preheated 325F oven for about 30-35 minutes. Two thirds of the way through baking remove the ring (tongs work best for this) and brush the crust with egg wash. Cook just until the custard is set.

7. Serve warm and garnish with parsley.

*Blind baking is required for tarts in which the filling is not to be baked, for tarts with fillings that bake quickly, or that require a low temperature. Don't blind bake for tarts that will cook for a long time, like an apple tart.

Pear tart with almond cream
Adapted from The International Culinary Center

Photo courtesy: Michelle Velasquez Cinotti.
  • 1 recipe pate sucree (or buy pre-made dough)
  • Butter for your tart ring
  • 8 canned pear halves, drained very well, blotted on paper towels
  • 5 tablespoons almond paste
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 4 teaspoons almond flour
  • 1/2 cup cake flour
  • 9 oz milk (little more than 1 cup)
  • 1/4 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch

Almond Cream:

1. In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the almond paste and sugar together until the almond paste is the size of peas

2. Add the butter, cream it, and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as it begins to lighten in color.

3. Add the eggs one by one, mixing well after each addition.

4. Add the extract.

5. Add the flours and mix until just incorporated.

Pastry Cream:

1. Bring the milk to a boil in a pot and add the vanilla.

2. Mix the egg yolks with the sugar until the mixture is pale yellow.

3. Sift the flour and cornstarch and add them to the sugar-yolk mixture. Stir to remove lumps.

4. Whisk part of the sugar-yolk mixture with half of the hot milk in a bowl to temper, and then return it to the pot.

5. Heat the pastry cream over a medium flame while stirring with a whisk. Be sure to scrape the bottom and lower inside edges of the pan to prevent lumps and to keep the mixture from scalding.

6. Bring the mixture to a boil and continue to cook the pastry cream for 3 minutes.

7. Transfer the pastry cream to a stainless steel bowl and cover with melted butter or plastic wrap to prevent the formation of a skin. Push the plastic wrap down so that it is touching the surface of the cream. Allow to cool.

8. Combine the almond cream with the pastry cream: three parts almond to one part pastry cream, or two parts almond cream to one part pastry cream.

Finish:

1. Roll dough and put into tart buttered ring.

2. Fill with pastry and almond cream mixture 3/4 of the way. Cover with a thin layer of pear halves, arranged in a decorative pattern. Bake in a preheated 350F oven for about 30 minutes. Remove the tart ring (with tongs) about 10 minutes before the tart is done. Cook until crust is browned.