I continue to be a wimp about pastry, so when I wanted to make a tart a few months ago (a Pepper Pie, actually), I used this recipe I found on David Lebovitz's site. He makes it clear that it is NOT HIS RECIPE and is a bit of a grump about it in the comments section ("I have no idea how it works, I can't troubleshoot it for you, it's not my recipe.") He learned it from a woman named Paule Caillat in France of the Promenades Gourmandes. Visit the website instead of just taking it from me: http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2009/05/french-tart-dough-a-la-francaise/. I'm just recording it here because I use this as my personal recipe box.
The crust was specifically complimented at the event I brought the tart to.
David advises using the crust with things like chocolate ganache or pastry cream, but not with thin, custardy fillings. I agree. There do tend to be small cracks in the dough.
French Pastry Dough for a 9 inch tart shell
85g (3 oz) unsalted butter, cut in pieces
**they say American butter works just fine. I THINK I used European butter, but don't remember,
1 T oil
3 T water
1 T sugar
1/8 t salt
160 g (5.5 oz) all purpose flour
Preheat oven to 410 F.
In a medium-sized ovenproof bowl (such as Pyrex), combine butter, oil, water, sugar, salt. Place the bowl in the oven for 15 minutes, until the butter is bubbling and starts to brown just around the edges.
Remove bowl from the oven (be careful! It might sputter!), dump in the flour (keep being careful!) and stir it quickly, until it comes together and forms a ball which pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
Transfer the dough to your 9 inch tart pan with a removable bottom and spread it out a bit with a spatula. When cook enough to handle, pat it into the shell with your hands, pressing it to the sides. Reserve a small piece to patch cracks.
Prick the dough all over with the tines of the fork. Bake for about 15 minutes, until golden brown.
Remove from the oven. If there are any sizable cracks, use the bits of reserved dough to patch.