Monday, March 23, 2009
Pâte brisée, pronounced paht bree-ZAY, is the french term for a short crust pastry. Basically, it's the pastry used to make pie & tart crusts. Because it contains no leavening agent, it doesn't rise. In most recipes, there is a fairly even flour to fat ratio, which produces a rich and flaky pastry.
I always make my own crust. Why? Because, it's really not that much more involved than buying one and it tastes a thousand times better. Today, this literally took me 15 minutes of actual work time to make & costs very little. I think the many steps involved in making your own pie crust intimidates people, but it's really not hard at all. If planned out in advance you can have crust ready to roll out whenever you need it.
I have no formal pastry training, other than my DH, who worked for a spell as a pastry chef. I know how to follow a recipe and my pie crusts usually do come out well...but, I have no idea if what I do is the correct way to do things. I just simply like the results, so this is what I do.
There are a million pie crust recipes out there. But, I tend to prefer ones that contain half butter and half shortening, over all butter recipes. This particular one is adapted from one I found in Cooks Illustrated magazine. It calls for vodka, which helps the texture of the dough, but imparts no flavor.
Because making pie crust involves using ice cold ingredients, it does require a little planning ahead. Begin by chilling 2 tablespoons of vodka.
You will also need 2 tablespoons of ice water, so get a measuring cup of that ready as well.
Along with 6 tablespoons of unsalted butter, sliced in thin slices...again cold,
and a 1/4 cup of vegetable shortening. All of these ingredients should be in the fridge chilling, until ready to use.
When ready, measure out 1 1/4 cups of flour & place it in the bowl of a food processor.
Add a teaspoon of salt,
and a tablespoon of sugar.
Mix the dry ingredients until combined, about 2-1 second pulses.
Add the butter & the shortening,
and process for about 10 seconds...or, until the granules seem to be around the same size...a coarse meal consistency is what you are looking for.
Dump the contents of the mixer out into a large mixing bowl. The large clumps you see are just the small granules sticking together. They are not big chunks of butter, or shortening...you do not want that!
Sprinkle on the cold vodka,
and gently mix. Use the side of a rubber spatula to press down as you mix. This helps gauge how well the dough is coming together, and how much more liquid you will need to add.
Then, sprinkle on some of the cold water...using the whole 2 tablespoons if necessary. Mix in the same way, until the dough completely comes together. Working with a dough that is too dry & crumbly will give you a major headache when it comes time to roll it out. So, you definitely want it to be a consistency that is easily pliable, but not too wet.
Shape the dough into the form of a disc,
and wrap in plastic wrap.
Refrigerate for at least 45 minutes, or up to 2 days. The dough can also be frozen for up to 3 months.
Next...I will be rolling it out, pre-baking the crust & making a quiche.