Monday, December 12, 2011

Pie Dough (Pate Brisee)

This is Martha Stewart's pate brisee recipe which is the French version of classic pie or tart pastry (with my additions, since I do not own a food processor, and you do not need to own one to make pie dough).
It is a good solid recipe which you can use for both sweet and savory pies and tarts.

Ingredients: (Makes 1 double-crust or 2 single-crust 9- to 10-inch pies)

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water


  • In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, salt and sugar. Add butter, and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, 8 to 10 seconds. - If you do not own a food processor, use your hands or a pastry blender to work the butter pieces into the dry ingredients in a bowl to achieve the same result.
  • With machine running, add ice water in a slow, steady stream through feed tube. Pulse until dough holds together without being wet or sticky; be careful not to process more than 30 seconds. To test, squeeze a small amount together: If it is crumbly, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time. - If you do not own a food processor, add water to the coarse meal in the bowl gradually (first start with less than 1/4 cup, then continue adding 1 tablespoon at a time if necessary), and gently mix with your hands or with a fork, until you achieve moist clumps. - Form dough into a ball.
  • Divide the dough into two equal balls. Flatten each ball into a disc and wrap plastic. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill at least 1 hour before use. Dough may be stored, frozen, up to 1 month.

Additional points:

  • Martha Stewart's "golden rule" for pies: Make it cold, bake it hot. To achieve a flaky pie crust, it's very important that butter and water are ice-cold (Some people even let the dry ingredients and tools chill in the fridge before making the dough). It is also a good idea to keep the pie pan in the fridge after you lined it with the pie dough until you prepare the filling (if you haven't prepared it already).
  • Do not add more water than necessary when you achieve the moist clump stage and do not overwork the dough, these would cause the dough to become tough; the dough will come together more as it chills in the fridge.
  • Pressing the dough into a disc (rather than shaping it into a ball) allows it to chill faster. This will also make the dough easier to roll out, and if you freeze it, it will thaw more quickly.

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