This simple flaky crust is essential to the répertoire of any chef, cook or homemaker. It comes together in a breeze and is absolutely divine. I use it for sweet or savory pies, stuffed pastries, tarts, galettes, etc.
For a single 9″-10” round crust
- 1 heaping cup all-purpose flour (or about 5 oz)
- 8 Tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 Tbsp. sugar (less if your filling is very sweet)
- 3 Tbsp. chilled water
There are two ways to make this pâte brisée: with a food processor or by hand. If you have a food processor, I highly recommend using it as the dough will come together in under 2 minutes and the results will be a flakier, truer pâte brisée. The less you handle the dough the better, as the heat from your hands will melt all those delightful little pockets of butter that create the flaky texture.
Combine flour, sugar, salt and butter (chopped into manageable pieces) in the bowl of a food processor. Whirl a few times until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. With the machine running, add the water, one tablespoon at a time until the dough forms a ball. If the ball forms before you have added all three, leave out the rest. If it has not formed, add a splash more but be careful not to make the dough sticky. Press the ball into a disc, cover and let chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Pâte brisée can easily be made a day in advance and keeps well frozen for up to a month.
In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt and sugar. Cut the butter into ½ Tbsp. pieces and add to the dry ingredients. Working quickly, rub the mixture between your hands so that the butter begins to combine with the flour and flake off in small pieces. The aim is to work the mixture swiftly and evenly so that the butter does not melt onto your hands. Continue working in this way until the mixture has a uniform consistency, resembling fine breadcrumbs. Sprinkle the water evenly over the mixture and form into a ball as quickly as possible. Do not knead or over-handle the dough. Finish as above.
A note on pre or “blind” baking:
It generally pays off to prebake pie crusts before adding the filling. This allows the crust to cook thoroughly and minimizes instances of soggy crust. I utilize prebaking in two ways. The first is for open pies with high liquid content. The second is more of a par-baking, which I use for double crusted pies.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Press the rolled out crust firmly into the bottom of a prepared pan. Trim and flute the edges as you like and refrigerate for an additional 5-10 minutes (this firms up the butter and helps the crust keep its shape). Puncture the bottom of the crust all over with a fork to prevent air bubbles. Cover with foil, buttered and pressed into the crust, and secure with a pie weight (dry beans or rice work too). In a pinch, you can also use a close fitting lid or skillet but without a cover the crust will slump down the sides of the pie. For a single crust, bake for about 12 minutes, remove the foil or lid and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until the crust is a pleasant golden brown. For a double crust, bake for about 10 minutes, uncover and bake for an additional 5. The crust should be just coloring but still slightly soft to the touch, allowing the top crust to be secured.