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Pâte Brisée

Pate brisée literally means “broken pastry”.  Translations can often be somewhat awkward, making something so ethereally delicious sound like something that just crashed to the floor and shattered into a thousand pieces.

But the allusion isn’t all wrong, for the pate brisée that results in the recipe you will watch here DOES shatter into a thousand pieces when you bite into it.  And that’s what you want, or what the French pastry chef wants!

This recipe is based on a classic, the cornerstone for all French tarts whether sweet or savory.  I, as a cooking apprentice, learned how to make this early on, cutting cold butter into flour and salt, then adding a touch of water to bring the ingredients together. As I pursued my career, though, I found that pate brisée didn’t act the same from one day to another.  I’d make it using the recipe learned from my chef (who pounded into the me all the rights and wrongs of pate brisée and everything else culinary!), and it would be tough, then it would be tender, and I couldn’t quite figure out why.

I mentioned this to a friend of mine, mother of four, artist by training, stay-at-home mom and passionate home cook.  “Add water,” she said. 

“Water?” I asked, my eyebrows up to my hairline.

“Don’t ask me why, but more water will make it more tender, and you’ll get ahold of it!” she responded.

And she was right.  I really never looked back, except to follow one more pearl of wisdom I learned from my chef, which is that the more you handle pastry, the tougher it will be, particularly if you have warm hands like I do. So, I developed a method for making the pastry in a food processor.  Honestly?  It’s THE trick (along with the water).

So, this little story is meant to help you along the road to perfect pastry, every time.  Use this for quiche, for fruit tarts, for lemon meringue pie.  It’s a winner, every time!

PATE BRISÉE

Tender, buttery, almost like puff pastry, this simple pastry will change your life. It’s very quick to make, and the trick to its success is handling it as little as possible. Astuce: this is made in a food processor, so the ingredients stay cold while they’re being put together. Once the pastry is made, it needs to sit at room temperature before rolling out.
Prep Time5 mins
Keyword: flour, butter, salt

Ingredients

  • 1 ½;205 g cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 12;180 g tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 12 pieces
  • 5 to 6 tablespoons ice water

Instructions

  • Place the flour and the salt in a food processor and process once to mix. Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the 5 tablespoons ice water and pulse just until the pastry begins to hold together. If the pastry seem dry and dusty, add the remaining 1 tablespoon water.
  • Transfer the pastry from the food processor to your work surface and form it into a flat round. Let it rest on a work surface, covered with a bowl, for at least 30 minutes. The pastry can sit several hours at room temperature, as long as the room isn’t warmer than 68 degrees. The pastry is ready to use as desired.

Notes

Pastry for one 10 ½-inch (26 ½ cm) to 12-1/2 inch (31.5cm) tart with a bit leftover

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