Tart Pastry

Jonathan and I are housesitting this week for the same family we did last year. While enjoying an orange sunset over the lake at dinner, it occurred to me that the thing I like best about this beautiful place is the make-believe games we can play. We can pretend to be anywhere (anywhere with grapevines, that is)--Tuscany, Provence, The Peloponnesian Penninsula...the list could go on. I like pretending sometimes.

Partly inspired by a book I'm reading, A Year in Provence, I decided to pretend I was a french baker last night. I seasoned some fresh peach slices with lemon juice, cinnamon and sugar and found a tart pastry recipe in a French cookbook. It came out of the oven flaky and melt-in-your-mouth buttery and tasted delicious with the simple peaches. Jonathan wished I had made it with apples, but when it comes to pies and tarts, I say there's no better fruit than peaches. They have the most refreshing flavor and texture.


TART (unsweetened) PASTRY

1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
2-3 tsp ice water
2/3 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
1 egg yolk

Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl, add the butter and rub in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles bread crumbs (or a food processor works really well). Add the egg yolk and cold water and mix with a food processor or flexible bladed knife until the dough just starts to come together. Bring the dough together with your hands and shape into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator to rest for at least 30 minutes.

Roll out the pastry into a circle on a lightly floured surface and use to line a tart pan, as directed in the recipe. Trim the edge and pinch around the pastry edge to make an even border raised slightly above the rim of the pan. Slide onto a baking sheet and put in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.