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Pate Brisee Dough

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Why I Love This Recipe

I've chatted with a few folks in the Tea Room about quiches and tarts, and the right techniques or recipes for that lovely crust -- the shell of the goodies you put inside.

Below is the recipe I learned in my Essentials of Pastry class at the French Culinary Institute in NYC.

Ingredients You'll Need

Ingredients for one 8-inch/9-inch tart; approx. 240 grams:
125 grams cake flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
62 grams cold butter, cubed
32 milliliters water

Ingredients for two 8-inch/9-inch tarts; approx. 480 grams:
250 grams cake flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
125 grams cold butter, cubed
65 milliliters water


1. Mix together the cake flour, salt, sugar.

2. Cut the cold butter into 1/2 inch cubes.

3. Add teh cubed butter to the dry ingredients and, using a bowl scraper, cut in the butter (basically quick chopping motions) until the butter pieces are approx. the size of dried lentils (about 1/8 inch), working quickly to avoid melting the butter. This procedure is called sablage after the French verb sabler meaning "to make sandy."

4. Form a well in the butter-flour mixture and add some of the cold water to the well.

5. Begin to combine the water into the flour-butter mixture; be careful not to overwork the dough at this stage.

6. As the dough comes together, set it aside and make a well in the remaining dry ingredients (whatever hasn't attached to the main batch).

7. Add more water as needed until all of the dough is soft and shaggy.

8. To ensure the dough is homogenous, remove walnut sized pieces from the dough and crush them against the work surface with the heel of your hand or with a plastic bowl scraper. The French term for this is fraisage.

9. Gather all pieces of the dough together, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to relax the gluten.

By machine:

1. Place the cake flour, salt and sugar into the mixer bowl fitted with the paddle attachment.

2. Add the cold butter that has been cut into 1/2-inch cubes.

3. Turn the mixer on slow and mix the ingredients until the butter pieces are approx. the size of dried lentils, about 1/8 inch.

4. Add the cold water to the dough gradually, until it is soft and shaggy.

5. Work the dough on the bench to finish it and to make it homogenous (fraisage).

6. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate.

Special instructions:

- The amount of water needed to hydrate the dough will vary greatly depending on teh amount of moisture in the flour.

- If using a mixer, stop and start the machine often to check the size of the butter.

- Pate brisee can be used for both sweet and savory tarts since it can be made with little or no sugar.

- If all the sugar is removed and just salt is used to flavor the dough, the dough is called a pate salee.

- The dough should always be well chilled before using.

Evaluating the finished product:

- Pieces or streaks of butter should be visible when rolling out the dough. If the pieces are so big that there is no dough sandwiching them, it should be folded several times and rolled out again since these large pieces will become holes after baking. If no pieces of butter are visible, the butter was cut too finely or melted into the dough, and the baked product will not be flaky.

- If the dough is extremely crumbly and cracks when rolled out, not enough water was added.

- If the dough is extremely soft after sufficient chilling, too much water was added.

- If the dough is elastic when rolling out, it has been overworked during the mixing. Resting and chilling the dough may save it, but overworked dough will not produce a tender crust.

- The baked dough should be tender and flaky. Flakiness is the result of the pieces of butter sandwiched between the dough, that, when baked, melt and create steam, forcing the dough apart and then melting into the dough.

Roll it out onto a lightly flour dusted countertop to about 1/8 inch and fit into tart ring.

To make the quiche or tart, you must chill it again after rolling it and fitting into the ring. Then take it out after about 30 minutes and blind bake it -- put a sheet of parchment over top the crust and fill it with dried beans or other heavy filling that won't bake or melt, to retain the shape of the tart while baking. Once baked and cooled, you can add your filling -- for quiche this would be your custard filling -- then bake again according to your instructions

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