Test Kitchen tips: Food processor for quick breads and crusts

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Growing up, I was taught to make my quick breads and pastry crusts the ‘old-fashioned’ way, using a large mixing bowl and ‘cutting in’ the cold butter with a fork or pastry cutter. It might have taken a little time to mix everything together, but properly combined, I could always count on a wonderfully light and flaky finished product.

And then I learned about the food processor.

If you’ve never made a quick dough in a food processor, I can’t stress how wonderfully simple and easy the whole process is. Add the dry ingredients to the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Add the cold butter chunks and give the processor a couple whirs to incorporate, then pulse in the liquid ingredients just to combine. The steps may vary slightly depending on the recipe, but that’s pretty much it. Voilà.

Many recipes now include dual methods for mixing -- mixing bowl and food processor methods. But even older recipes should work in a processor; it just takes a little adaptation. And a food processor is especially great if you’re pressed for time or are working in a warm kitchen. If you do use a food processor, remember that the blades rotate quickly and that it’s easy to overprocess the dough, which will make it tough. I frequently pause between pulses to gauge where I am, just to make sure nothing is over-mixed before proceeding.

For a quick step-by-step on mixing shortcake dough in a food processor, follow the jump.


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1. Pulse the dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor to combine. Add the butter and pulse just until incorporated. Add the liquid ingredients, pulsing just to combine but careful not to overmix.

2. Turn the crumbly dough out onto a board before kneading or pressing to combine.

3. Press the dough into a disk, and use a large sharp knife to cut the dough into six even wedges.

4. Top the wedges with cream before baking.

5. Finished shortcakes. You can find the recipe here.