This recipe makes 1 pâte brisée crust, enough for one tart. If you are making a pie with a bottom and top crust, double this recipe and form two discs of dough instead of one.
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar (increase to 1 1/2 teaspoons if for a sweet recipe)
- 8 Tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, very-cold, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 3 to 4 Tbsp ice water, very cold
- The minute you even think you might want to make a pie crust, cut up a stick of butter into smallish (about 1/2-inch) cubes, and put it into the freezer. The colder the butter the better luck you'll have with creating a flaky crust. Freeze the butter at least 15 minutes, better an hour, best overnight. (I usually keep cubed butter in the freezer ready to go for making pie crusts.)
- Place the flour, salt, and sugar into a food processor and pulse until well combined. Add half of the butter cubes and pulse 6 to 8 times. Then add the other half of the butter cubes and pulse 6 to 8 more times. You should have a mixture that resembles a coarse meal, with many butter pieces the size of peas.
- Add a couple of tablespoons of ice cold water (without the ice!) to the food processor bowl and pulse a couple of times. Then add more ice water, slowly, about a tablespoon at a time, pulsing after each addition, until the mixture just barely begins to clump together. If you pinch some of the crumbly dough and it holds together, it's ready, if not, add a little more water and pulse again. Try to keep the water to a minimum. Too much water will make your crust tough.
- Remove the crumbly mixture from the food processor and place on a very clean, smooth surface. If you want an extra flaky crust, you can press the heel of your palm into the crumbly mixture, pressing down and shmooshing the mixture into the table top. This is a French technique, called "fraisage". Do this a few times, maybe 4 to 6 times, and it will help your crust be extra flaky. Then, use your hands to press the crumbly dough together and shape into a disc. Work the dough only enough to just bring the dough together. Do not over-knead or your crust will end up tough. You should be able to see little bits of butter, speckling the dough. When these bits of butter melt as the crust cooks, the butter will help separate the dough into flaky layers. So, visible pieces of butter are a good thing, what you are aiming for, in the dough. Sprinkle the disc with a little flour on all sides. Wrap the disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour. (At this point you can freeze the dough disk for several months until ready to use. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator before proceeding.)
- When you are ready to roll out the dough, remove the disk from the refrigerator and place on a clean, smooth, lightly floured surface. Let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes to take just enough of a chill off of it so that it becomes easier to roll out. Sprinkle some flour on top of the disk. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to a 12 inch circle, to a thickness of about 1/8 of an inch thick. As you roll out the dough, check if the dough is sticking to the surface below. Add a few sprinkles of flour if necessary to keep the dough from sticking. Place on to a 9-inch pie plate, lining up the fold with the center of the pan. Gently unfold and press down to line the pie dish with the dough.