Making homemade pie crusts are easier than you think, so much more rewarding and more delicious than store purchased. A skill that every home cook should learn. Here’s the classic French method for how to make a pie crust or tart shell using butter that I learned at Culinary School.
Making a perfect pie crust is just one of the big take aways from my time spent at Cook Street School of Culinary Arts. And lucky for me, I was taught by one of the best pastry chefs in Denver. And I was trained to make a pie crust and tart shell the classic way, the classic French way. Pate Brisee, (prounced pat bre-say) is an all butter method to make the most tender and flaky pie dough, and it’s as traditional as it gets.
It reflects my respect for traditional methods and it’s something every home cook should learn to make. And the fun part? It’s easy. And it’s versatile. You can make pies and tarts to your heart’s content.
There are 6 essential keys to making a perfect flaky crust for either a pie or tart shell that must not be ignored:
- Cold ingredients (butter and water must be cold)
- Use a bench knife to chunk the butter and return butter to refrigerator before proceeding
- Measure flour using a kitchen scale
- Add an acid (to keep crust from discoloring)
- Don’t over mix (you want chunks of butter to remain in final product)
- Rest (let dough rest in refrigerator at least 30 minutes)
- Not too much water (you want dough to be just slightly sticky)
- Low protein flour (All purpose flour)
This recipe will make two tart or pie pan crusts. I have simply fallen head over heels in love with tart pans. The main difference between a tart pan and a pie pan is the shape and depth of the sides. A tart pan has straight sides. I prefer the end result look of tart. They turn out neat, more “professional” looking than pies. Most tart pans are made of metal, and have a removable bottom, allowing you to slip off the outer ring without damaging the beautiful crust.
Chef’s Tip: Letting the dough rest in the refrigerator makes it easier to roll out. If it’s too warm, it will stick to your rolling pin, forcing you to use more flour. When rolling out, place a little flour on your working surface and your rolling pin. Rotate the dough as you roll. And make sure when rolling that dough to roll it out even. An even and consistent thickness makes for a professional looking end product.
Just add in the cold water and blend with your hands, and shaping into a ball. The dough should feel slightly sticky. Cover in plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
Making your own pie crust or tart shell is easy. This is a recipe for a no fail butter pie crust.
- 12 ounces All Purpose Flour
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 8 ounces Butter Cold and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 4 1/2 ounces Cold water
- 1/2 ounce White vinegar
Combine the water and vinegar.
Put the flour, salt and butter in a large bowl.
Mix with fingers using the sheeting method, until butter is broken into smaller pieces and still visible. How to use sheeting method: Begin sheeting the butter by pressing the cubes of butter between thumb and forefinger in a "snapping" motion, giving you long sheets of butter. You want these long sheet present in the final product.
Add water mixture a little at a time, gently mixing until dough comes together. Knead a few times for mixture to come together.
Wrap in plastic wrap and place in refrigerator to rest for 30 minutes.
After the dough has rested, divide dough roll into two equal parts. Lightly flour a surface and with a rolling pin, roll the dough to 1/8" thickness.
Place dough in pie pan or tart shell and trim edges. Dock the dough using a fork. Add filling and bake according to recipe directions.
If using a pastry cream type filling you will want to blind bake the crust.
Once the dough is in the desired shell. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Dock the dough. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Cover the shell with parchment paper and fill with dried beans or rice. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes. Remove the beans and parchment and continuing baking until crust is just turning golden.
Put that Buttery Pie Crust To Work: