Active Work and Total Preparation Time: 2 hours
CRISP SWEET PASTRY
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder, optional
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted European-style butter, cold
3 tablespoons chilled whipping cream
1 egg yolk, chilled
1. Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a mixing bowl.
2. Cut the butter in quarters lengthwise, then slice it into the bowl in 1/4-inch-thick chips. Toss the chips until separated and coated with flour.
With your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour until the mixture has the texture of coarse meal. Keep your hands above the mixture while you're working to prevent the butter from melting (your palms are warmer than your fingers) and to keep the dough airy and light.
3. Beat the whipping cream and yolk together, make a well in the flour and pour in the cream mixture. Blend the liquid into the flour with your fingertips until the dough sticks together; it will be very wet. Turn onto a floured board and pat into a round.
4. Now the fraisage--the smearing that brings the dough together better. With the heel of your hand, smear walnut-sized pieces of dough across the work surface for 6 or so inches. Scrape up the heap, press all of the pieces together and pat them into an even 1/2-inch thick round. You can wrap the dough in foil and refrigerate it for a day or two, or proceed at once. (If you're chilling the dough, bring it back to room temperature before beginning the next step.)
5. Sprinkle a pastry board or work surface with flour. Roll the dough out to an even 11-inch round, rolling in one direction, then lifting the pin and giving the dough a quarter turn as needed to make a circle (never roll back and forth). Fold the dough in half, brush off any flour, then lift it up and brush off the flour beneath. The dough will be very tender; handle it very gently. If it keeps breaking, knead flour a tablespoon at a time into the dough so that it remains tender but can be lifted up without breaking.
6. Center the folded round above a 9 3/8-or 9 1/2-inch two-piece tart pan or a tart ring set on a rimless baking sheet. Unfold the dough and, without stretching, let it fall into place in the ring. Coax it down to fit snugly against the corners. Smooth out any air bubbles.
7. Fold the sides down to touch the bottom. Cut off any excess dough even with the rim. Press all around the sides with a fingertip, simultaneously sealing and fluting and making the sides 3/4-inch high.
8. Cover the shell and refrigerate from 1 hour to 1 day.