Almond Pastry

I’ve always liked nut crusts, especially when I want to add an earthy, toasty note to whatever pie or tart I happen to be preparing. This almond crust is one of my favorites.

While it isn’t a hard and fast requirement, I like to take the extra step of toasting the nuts prior to grinding them. This really brings out the almond flavor, which tends to be much more muted otherwise. (You can, of course, buy toasted almonds and skip the toasting step in the recipe that follows.)

A note about handling: this dough mixes up beautifully and it’s almost impossible to overwork it. However, the nuts and sugar can make it a very slightly crumbly when handled, especially if the dough is cold. If you find this to be the case, let the dough rest very briefly after you roll it – 1 minute at a time – before you continue. The rest allows the dough to become more pliable.

Almond Pastry

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup untoasted almonds
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg yolk
  • cold water (about 3 tablespoons)
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract or vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°. Spread the nuts on a small baking sheet. Put the nuts on the center oven rack and toast for about 8 minutes, until lightly toasted. Do not over-toast. Immediately dump the almonds onto your countertop or another surface and allow to cool thoroughly. (I often transfer them to a small bowl after they're cooled, and refrigerate for 15 minutes before I process them.)
  2. While the nuts are cooling, cut the butter into tablespoon pieces, then cut each tablespoon into 4 equal dice. Put the butter dice on a plate and refrigerate until needed.
  3. When the nuts are cooled, put them in a food processor with the 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar. Process, pretty much nonstop, until the nuts are very finely ground. This could take a minute or more; it should be very fine. Add all of the salt and the flour. Pulse several times, to mix.
  4. Scatter the butter over the dry ingredients in the machine. Using short (1-second) pulses, pulse the machine 7 or 8 times, until the butter is cut into small pieces - smaller than peas.
  5. Put the egg yolk in a 1-cup glass measuring cup. Add enough cold water to make 1/4 cup total liquid. Add the almond or vanilla extract. Blend with a fork.
  6. Drizzle the liquid over the dry mixture. Replace the lid and - using short, 1-second pulses - pulse the machine just until the mixture starts to form large clumps; it should not ball up.
  7. Turn the dough out onto your work counter and pack it together, like a snowball. Knead gently, 4 or 5 times, on a lightly floured surface to smooth out the dough. Flatten it with your palm into a 1/2-inch thick disk. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, until cold through and through, before rolling. Makes enough dough for 1 large tart, pie, or galette.
http://thepieacademy.com/almond-pastry/