I love making pie dough from scratch, and some days I even like making it without my food processor! But there is something to be said for a quick but flavorful crust that you can press into a pan without going through the messy step of rolling it out.
This crust is tender, flaky, and very pronounced in Cheddar flavor. It is a great base for a creamy quiche, or slightly savory fruit pie. It is really quick if you make it in the food processor, but you can do this in a bowl as well with a pastry blender, a fork, or even your fingers (if you have cold hands…).
1 ¾ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. granulated sugar
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. cayenne
1 stick butter, chilled, cubed
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
6 ounces extra sharp Cheddar cheese
4 to 5 tbsp. chilled water
In the food processor place flour, sugar, salt, and cayenne, and pulse a few times to mix. Add the butter and pulse until it is a texture of coarse meal with a few larger lumps of butter. Add the Cheddar and Dijon and pulse to combine. Add the water a tablespoon at a time, pulsing a few times between additions, and checking at four tablespoons; it will still look ragged and craggy, but will hold together when squeezed in your hand.
Dump it all into a 10” removable bottom tart pan and spread it out evenly. It will look like too much, but it is not. Start by pressing the dough up against the sides as evenly as possible until it is where you want it to be. Remember, this will have nothing supporting it when removed from the pan, so you want some structure here. Use a flat-bottomed measuring cup to press the bottom smooth and even.
Chill for a half hour or longer. Don’t skip this step. The longer you chill it, the less likely it will shrink down in the oven.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. When the oven is hot, remove the tart from the refrigerator, dock it with a fork so steam will be released and prevent it from buckling.
Bake: Place on a baking sheet and cook for 25 to 30 minutes, or until lightly browned. Let cool to room temperature before filling.
For a fruit pie: If you are using this crust for an apple or pear fruit tart, use only 4 ounces of Cheddar, and add ¼ tsp. allspice.