Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Pâte Brisée - French Pie Crust Dough

     Pâte Brisée - French Pie Crust Dough
     There are several variations of pie crust dough recipes.  For specific applications, more or less salt can be added.  The same can be said about sugar up to a certain point.  Sugar is a liquifying agent, so too much sugar is not a good thing.  If a sweet dough crust is desired, then use a Pâte Sucrée recipe (Sweet Short Crust).
     Chilled lard can replace the butter to make a classic pie dough or Irish Pastry Dough.  A combination of butter and lard can be used.  To make Irish pastry dough, cut the pieces of butter or lard a little bigger than for Pâte Brisée.
     Pie Dough is very easy to make.  The rule of thumb is that the less the dough is mixed or folded, the flakier the crust will be.  When the dough is rolled out, a perfect pie dough sheet will show long yellowish streaks of butter.  This can only be accomplished by not excessively mixing the dough.
     To start a pie dough, the flour mixture is gradually riced with ice water.  This process is best done by eye.  A baker's cutting tool is best for the ricing task.  The rice size pieces of dough should only be damp.  When the chilled butter is added, the fat surrounds the moisture.  When baked, the steam that is produced creates the thin flaky airy pockets.
     It is important to keep the butter chilled.  Before rolling the dough, the dough also must be chilled.  Warm air temperatures or direct heat will ruin a good pie dough.
     Usually pie dough is rolled into a rectangular or round sheet shape.  The dough sheet should be about 3/16" thick for most applications.  The baking temperature for most Pâte Brisée applications is 375ºF.

     Pâte Brisée:
     Step 1:  Place 1 1/2 cups of flour into a mixing bowl.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt.  (Or add 1 teaspoon for a classic salty flavor)
     Add 3/4 tablespoon of sugar.
     Step 2:  Sift the ingredients together.
     Step 3:  Rice the flour by adding a few drops of ice water at a time while stirring with a whisk or chopping with a baker's cutting tool.  The flour should look like grains of rice.  Only 3 1/2 to 5 tablespoons of water is needed (depending on the humidity.)
     Step 4:  Cut 2 ounces of unsalted butter into pea size pieces and drop them in a bowl of ice water.
     Gently add a few pieces of the chilled hard butter at a time to the riced flour.
     Work the dough lightly with your fingers for a minimal amount of time between each addition of butter.  Try to leaving exposed small pieces of butter.
     Only work the dough till it barely combines.
     Step 5:  Chill the dough, till it becomes very firm.
     Step 6:  Roll the Pâte Brisée into a round or rectangular shaped sheet on a flour dusted counter top.  The sheet should be about 3/16" thick.  (The sheet of Pâte Brisée should show streaks of butter!  This is what will give the pate brisee a flakey crusty texture.)
     Step 7:  Refrigerate the sheet of Pâte Brisée till it becomes firm, before using the dough for a recipe.

     Easy as pie!

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