Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Pate Brisee - The Perfect Pie Crust


This may sound crazy but I've heard some people say they're not really a "pie person". I'm not sure I quite understand that, but obviously they have never had REALLY good pie.

REALLY good pie, and listen carefully because it's part of the meaning of life (I am watching Monty Python's Meaning of Life right now...brilliant) does not need ice cream on the side.

Also, there seems to be an obsession for really flaky pie crusts. Although this flakiness is ideal, I think this has led people to use shortening in their pie, which I refuse to do. Yes, I am going to be a food snob here. The thing is, when you use shortening, you are sacrificing the flavour of the crust for flakiness, when you can actually attain it with butter. The flakiness of the pie is in the technique and not so much the ingredients.

When I make pie crust I like to prep everything so I can work quickly, all your ingredients must stay cold (that is part of the flakiness technique). Also, you do not want to over work your ingredients.

And yes, this kitchen has retro green counter tops. So what? Retro and vintage is in! I really shouldn't complain, I have barely any counter space in my Toronto kitchen and here I have space galore.

Your pie crust tools.

Pate Brisee
Makes: Two 9-inch pie crusts (for one 9-inch pie crust half the recipe)
  • 2 1/2 cups of flour
  • 1 cup of butter
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1 tbsp of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of ice cold water
  • 3 tbsp of sour cream or crème fraiche
  1. Prep and measure: This may seem obsessive but it is how I get the flaky crust. First cut up the butter into small cubes and put it in the freezer to chill. Measure out your four, salt and sugar into a large bowl and chill that as well. Mix together your sour cream and water, and again that goes in the freezer. Let that chill for about 15 minutes. Obsessive? Yes.
  2. Once your ingredients are chilled whisk together the flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl. You can also do this in a food processor. I have chosen to use a pastry blender so I don't end up overworking the dough, but I've used a food processor before and they work fine. Once whisked throw in your chopped butter. pie1.jpg
  3. Use your pastry blender to mix the butter into the flour and use a spatula to make sure the ingredients are mixed well. Combine the ingredients until the butter is no smaller than peas. You don't want to over mix the dough, the chunks of butter create the flakiness. This is where you have to be careful with a food processor. pie2.jpg
  4. Now take your water and sour cream mixture out of the freezer and mix it into the bowl, 1 tbsp at a time, while you mix the batter.pie3.jpg
  5. Mix everything until the dough starts to clump together. Again don't over mix it.pie4.jpg
  6. Bring the dough out onto a floured counter top and form a ball that you can cut in half. pie5.jpg
  7. Then take that dough and cut it in half. Create two discs and wrap in plastic wrap. This dough needs to be chilled in the fridge for at least 3 hours or overnight.pie6.jpg
  8. Once chilled, you can begin to roll out your crust. Depending on the dryness of your dough, you may want to let the dough sit for a few minutes before rolling our the dough. Also at this point you should have your filling made. Flour your counter top and begin rolling out your dough from the center out. Roll out a few times, then lift the dough and turn it a quarter. Lifting it will also ensure that the dough is not sticking to the counter, if it is, just throw some flour underneath the dough. Roll out the dough to 1/8 of an inch. Of course, make sure you roll out your dough big enough to fit your pan.pie7.jpg
  9. Now to get that dough into your pan roll up your crust onto the rolling pin...pie8.jpg
  10. And unroll the dough onto the pie pan. Fill the pan will your filling and throw this in the fridge while you roll out the top crust.pie9.jpg
For the top crust you can simply roll out the dough the same way you did for the bottom crust, sealing the top crust to the bottom and cutting slits on the top of the pie. But we like to wow people here, so I am going to show you how to create the lattice crust.
  1. Roll out your dough using the same technique for the bottom crust. Then cut 1/2 inch strips using a knife, pizza cutter or one of those fancy edged cutters. pie11.jpg
  2. Now take every other strip and lay it down on the pie at 1/2 inch apart.pie12.jpg
  3. Now on the pie lift up every other strip half way and take the middle strip that is on the counter and place it in the middle of the pie, laying it down perpendicular to the rest of the strips. pie13.jpg
  4. Unfold the strips so they lay on top of the new strip. Take the other strips (that are now underneath the new strip) and fold them up.pie14.jpg
  5. Take the strip on the counter that was to the left of the first strip you took and place it on top of the vertical strips beside the last strip and unfold the strips again. pie15.jpg
  6. Repeat this weaving step until you get to the end of the pie.pie16.jpg
  7. Once you get to the end of the pie continue this process on the other half of the pie...pie17.jpg
  8. Until your pie crust looks like this:pie18.jpg
  9. Now at this step most people tell you to trim the pie. Believe me when I say this: You do not want to trim this pie. You want all the crust you can get. So fold the bottom crust over the top strips. pie19.jpg
  10. Once you have gone around and sealed the pie, give it a pretty trim by crimping the pie with your fingers. Now again for the obsessive part. Chill the pie in the fridge for another 30 minutes. The contrast between the coolness of the pie and hot heat of the oven create rapid air expansion which will cause the desired flakiness of the crust. Make sure you preheat your oven to 375 F. pie20.jpg
  11. Once your pie has chilled brush an egg wash over the pie to get that golden crust and sprinkle with sugar. I like to use turbinado sugar just so you can get that crunch. To prevent the crust of your pie from burning wrap tin foil over it. You will take this off when you change the temperature to 350 F. pie21.jpg
  12. Place the pie in the oven with a sheet underneath in case any filling decides to come out. Bake at 375 F for 15 minutes then turn down the temperature to 350 F for 35-40 minutes until golden brown and the fruit is bubbling. Remember to take the tin foil off once you have turned down the temperature to 350 F. pie22.jpg
  13. Now for the HARDEST part of this whole process. You need to wait till the pie cools completely or else your filling will go everywhere. Wait at least an hour... seriously I was going to say 3 but I know you can't wait 3 hours. GUTEN APPETIT! pie23.jpg


  1. mmm this is beautiful. I also agree with you on shortening. it just weirds me out!


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