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Vanilla Shortcrust Dough

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The crisp and crumbly texture of this dough resembled a vanilla shortbread cookie suitable to many types of fillings. You can mix it by hand (check the Sweet Pie or Tart Pie Dough recipe for instructions) or a food processor and form the shell by pressing it directly into the pan or rolling it out.

What you need:

1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar or Splenda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 stick (4 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

2 large egg yolks

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 to 3 tablespoons water

What you do:

1. Put the sugar, flour and salt into the food processor fitted with a metal blade.

2. Pulse 5 times to blend.

3. Add the cold butter and pulse 6 to 8 times until the butter is the size of large peas.

4. In a small mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks, vanilla and 1 teaspoon of water together.

5. Add to the butter mixture and and process until the dough begins to form small clumps, about 5 to 10 seconds.

6. Do not let the dough form a ball.

7. Squeeze the clumps together by hand. They should hold together. If they are crumbly and fall apart add another teaspoon of water and pulse until they hold together.

8. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead gently 2 or 3 times. Just to finish bringing it together.

9. Shape into a 6-inch disk. If the dough is cool to the touch continue onto the next step. If the dough is soft and sticky, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

10. Place the dough between two sheets of parchment and roll into a 11-inch round for a pie or smaller disks for tarts or hand pies. The dough should be 1/8- to 1/4 -inch thick. Lift one of the sheets of parchment and ease it into the pan and up the sides. If the dough breaks or cracks just press it together.

11. Refrigerate for an hour or freeze for 30 minutes before baking.

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