Friday, May 13, 2011

Martha's Perfect Pâte Brisée

I have been making this pie crust for over a decade and it has never failed me.  The dough comes together quickly if you use a food processor, but it can also be made by hand using a pastry cutter.  If you use a pastry cutter, it will take you a bit more time.  This is known as Martha's Perfect Pâte Brisée  and after making it you'll understand why.  It's important to have all of your ingredients well chilled.



The butter, flour, salt, sugar & water are carefully measured.  You must have these ingredients icy cold in order to make a good pie crust.

Quickly pulse your flour mixture in the food processor.


Add your chilled butter.  You want to cut up your butter in order to disperse small bits throughout the dough instead of big chunks.  This will make a flaky crust.


Pulse this a few times until you break up the butter.  Don't overwork it.


Now add your ice water slowly and pulse as you go.  You will slowly see the texture of the dough change.


Pick up some dough and squeeze it.  If it clumps like this you are done.  The whole process should take no more than 30 seconds.


Divide your dough in half.  Since I like exact measurements, I weigh my dough on a scale.


Gather up the pie crusts with plastic wrap and shape them into flat disks.


Pâte brisée  must be chilled at least one hour (more is better) before proceeding with a recipe.  It can sit in the refrigerator for up to one day.  It can also be frozen in a resealable bag (remove all air) for up to a month.  Thaw frozen pâte brisée in the refrigerator overnight in its plastic wrap. 




Every baker should know how to make a good pie crust from scratch, because it isn't hard at all.  There are many recipes for pie crusts out there and most of them include vegetable shortening.  Bakers add this in order to produce flakiness, but an all butter crust can still be flaky and tender if made properly and the taste will be incomparable.  I love making it not only for single or double crust pies, but for tarts, tartlets & quiches as well.  At my home, pies are made year round with what's in season.  Now that we're heading into summer, it's time to hit the farmstands and choose what's delectable.  I really hope you attempt a pie or two soon using this pâte brisée .  Enjoy!

2 comments:

  1. I've seen Martha vary the amounts of salt and sugar. Do you ever do this? Why and how do you make this decision?

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  2. Ah. Well that can easily be determined by what you're going to bake. If the filling is going to be a sweet one (like the pie above) it's a good idea to balance the sugar & salt. You can reduce the amount of salt by 1/2 a teaspoon if you want, but don't omit it. If the pie will be a savory one (say quiche), you can reduce the amount of sugar in your pate brisee recipe. I hope this helps!

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