by Erin Quinn
Saving time and money by streamlining your bakery production and developing formula building blocks is key to a bakery's success. By using a basic short dough, you can 'wow' your customers with a variety of enticing products, while minimizing production processes.
The number and types of products that can be produced from the same short dough formula are almost limitless. Create petits fours, a perfect partner to a cup of coffee, by simply using a cutter to produce shaped bites of short dough. Roll the pieces in sanding sugar prior to baking. Or, offer holiday and special occasion flow icing cookies.
Another use of short dough is tart shells. Fresh fruit tarts are always a crowd pleaser during the summer months, so draw customers in by topping a short dough shell with bold and bright colored fruit. Apples, pears, cranberries and various nuts work well for baked fruit tarts during fall and winter when people tend to seek out more comfort foods.
Also, dress up mousse cakes by using short dough plaques instead of chocolate or jaconde for a unique decorative siding. Egg wash the plaques, and garnish them with whole hazelnuts or pistachios for a sleek and sophisticated look. This dough works well for silk screening, so set yourself apart from your competitors by making innovative and eye-catching gift tags using your bakery's logo. The potential applications for this dough are often underestimated because it is so fast and easy to make, but it has very few limitations.
Function of ingredients
With only four ingredients in basic short dough, it is imperative to understand the functionality of each ingredient. First, decide which fat to use. Butter contributes better flavor than margarine, but it is more difficult to work with because of the restricted temperature range. Another disadvantage of butter is that if too much flour is added to the dough while sheeting, the dough becomes crumbly and shrinks when it is baked. With margarine, if you add too much flour to the dough, it will still become crumbly, but it will not shrink when it is baked.
Choosing the right flour is equally as important as choosing the right fat. Bread flour works well for dusting your surface when sheeting the dough, but it is too high in gluten forming proteins to create a tender dough. Cake flour is too low in protein and absorbs more moisture, which yields a crumbly product with a chalky mouth feel. Pastry flour strikes the appropriate balance between these two flours. Like cake flour, pastry flour is made from soft wheat, which creates a tender final product, and it contains enough protein to provide the structure and strength needed to tolerate sheeting without cracking or tearing.
Finally, decide which sugar is the best choice for your product. Regular granulated sugar can create an uneven crumb, while superfine granulated sugar generates a fine and even crumb.
The most important aspect of mixing short dough is not to overmix. Overmixing the dough incorporates too much air, making the dough very soft and difficult to handle. Using flour to compensate for overmixing causes the dough to become tough and rubbery because the flour to butter ratio is thrown off enough that the butter no longer protects the insoluble proteins in the flour from coming in contact with moisture.
Using the provided short dough formula, which yields 20, 8-in. tarts, cream the butter and sugar until well blended. Slowly add the eggs, allowing for proper emulsification with the fat. Then, add the flour, and mix only long enough to incorporate evenly.
Before working with the dough, wrap it in plastic, and allow it to rest in the cooler for at least one hour. Well wrapped, this dough can be stored in the cooler for up to two weeks and as long as two months in the freezer.
As mentioned earlier, bread flour works best for sheeting this dough, whether by machine or hand. If you are using the dough to line tart shells, especially shells that are going to be baked separately from the filling, dock the dough before baking. The docking prevents bubbling by allowing any air that was trapped in the dough to escape. It is easier to dock the dough before you place it into the molds.
For best results, roll the dough to 1/8-in. thickness, and bake at 375°F for 8 to 25 minutes, depending on the particular product. Ultimately, you are looking to achieve a very light golden color for small cookies and a deeper golden brown for fresh fruit tarts. Baking filled fruit tarts will take the longest, and produce the darkest shade.
With four basic ingredients and a little imagination, you have the tools for making the perfect sweet for any occasion.
|Granulated sugar, superfine||1||10.5|
|Total appr. wt.||10||9.5|
|Instructions: Prepare according to article. Roll dough to 1/8-in. thickness, and cut into desired shape. Bake at 375°F for 8 to 25 minutes.|
Erin Quinn is a full time instructor at the San Francisco Baking Institute. She earned a bachelor's degree in Baking and Pastry Arts from Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I. She has worked as the assistant to the Baking and Pastry Department's chairperson at Johnson & Wales. She also was the assistant to the Coupe du Monde Artistic Bread team member for the 2002 competition. For more information about the San Francisco Baking Institute, call 650/589-5784 or visit www.sfbi.com.