TO ME, A PIE IS ONLY AS GOOD AS ITS CRUST. And the tenderest, flakiest, buttery-est crust in the world is surely Pate Brisee Fine – the traditional French pastry dough for pies, quiches, and tarts. In other words, it’s a crust you can trust. I make it this way:
Pate Brisee Fine
Ingredients for two 9-inch crusts
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cake flour
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, chilled
4 Tbs vegetable shortening, chilled
1 pinch salt (optional)
1/2 cup ice-cold water
Pastry dough made with all-purpose flour alone tends to be tough. The small addition of cake flour, however, insures a light, tender crust.
Work rapidly; your pastry effort will fail if the butter becomes too soft. It is tiny pieces of butter suspended in the flour that makes the pastry flaky.
Pour all the flour, the butter and the optional salt into the bowl of your food processor. Pulse on and off 10 times just to break up the butter. Then turn the machine on, add the shortening and 1/2 cup of water, and immediately stop processing.
Remove the lid of your processor, and withdraw a small amount of dough. If it holds together when gently pressed in your palm, as above, processing is complete. If it falls apart, add a few droplets of water, and pulse again for 5 or 6 turns.
Finally, rip small segments from the disk you just formed, and smear them across a piece of wax paper, a marble or tempered glass cutting board, or some other non-stick surface. Smearing the dough — a tip I learned from watching Julia Child — insures that all particles are thoroughly blended.
Reshape the dough (which by now should be more malleable) into a disk, and insert it into a plastic bag. Chill for at least 30 minutes before using. Refrigerated, this pastry dough will keep for about 3 days before the flour turns gray. Frozen, it will keep perfectly well for months.
Do you have your own special recipe for pastry dough? Care to share it here?
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