Basic Flaky Pastry (Pâte Brisée)

This is my version of basic pastry. Instead of using a pastry cutter, use a box grater to grate in the fat, then use your palms to rub some of the fat into the flour in a technique similar to ‘frisage’ in pastry making. These two techniques create a wonderfully flaky crust. I use a combination of shortening (for flakiness) and butter (for flavour). Depending on what I have on hand, I sometimes change the recipe to include equal amounts shortening and butter. Makes 1 double crust pie, or 2 single crust pies

Ingredients

3 cups (750 ml) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp (5 ml) kosher salt
2/3 cup (160 ml) frozen all-vegetable shortening
1/3 cup (80 ml) cold butter
½ to ¾ cup (125 to 185 ml) ice water

Directions

In large bowl, combine flour and salt; mix well. Using a box grater, grate in the shortening and butter, sweeping up some of the flour with the fat as you grate.

Using the palms of your hands, gather up some of the flour-fat mixture between your palms and rub in a downward motion once. Repeat 10 times gathering up the flour-fat mixture each time.

Using a fork, mix in about 10 tbsp (150 ml) ice water. Continue to add water in small amounts, until the mixture feels slightly moist and begins to stick together.

Roll out the pastry as required.

As a general guideline:
For a 9” (23 cm) double crust sweet or savoury pie: Divide the dough in two and form each half into a ball. On a well-floured surface, flatten one ball slightly with your hands to create a disc. Sprinkle with flour. Using a floured rolling pin, roll out the pastry to an 11” (28 cm) circle being careful not to pull or tug the pastry. Do not turn the pastry over, instead, gently lift the edges of the crust and sprinkle the counter with additional flour to keep dough from sticking.

Fold the pastry in half and then in half again to create a triangle. Place the folded point of the pastry in the centre of a 9” (23 cm) pie plate. Gently unfold, easing the pastry into place and being careful not to stretch the dough. Repair any tears with additional dough. Trim around the edge if the pie plate using a knife or the edge of a metal spatula.

Roll out the top crust to 10” (25.5 cm) and fold it in two. Gently place it in the lined pie plate. Refrigerate the crust for 30 minutes to relax the dough

Remove the chilled pastry from the refrigerator. Remove the top crust. Fill as required with a savoury or sweet filling. Unfold the top crust over the filling. Using kitchen scissors, trim the top crust to ½-inch (1 cm) beyond the edge of the bottom crust. Tuck top crust under the edge of the bottom pastry edge. Seal edges with your fingers. Make several slits in the top to allow steam to escape. Brush with beaten egg. If making a sweet pie, sprinkle the brushed top with a little granulated sugar.

Bake for 15 minutes at 425°F (220°C) and then reduce the temperature to 350°F (180°C) for another 35 minutes.

For a single 9” (23 cm) crust pie: Divide the dough in two and form each half into a ball. On a well-floured surface, flatten one ball slightly with your hands to create a disc. Sprinkle with flour. Using a floured rolling pin, roll out the pastry to an 11” (28 cm) circle being careful not to pull or tug the pastry. Do not turn the pastry over, instead, gently lift the edges of the crust and sprinkle the counter with additional flour to keep dough from sticking.

Fold the pastry in two to create a triangle. Place the folded point of the pastry in the centre of a 9” (23 cm) pie plate. Gently unfold, easing the pastry into place and being careful not to stretch the dough. Repair any tears with additional dough. Trim around the edge of the pie plate using a knife or the edge of a metal spatula. Repeat with the second ball. Refrigerate both pies for 30 minutes to relax the dough. One of the pies can be frozen at this point for later use.

For partially, or fully baked crusts: Remove from refrigerator and prick the bottom and sides all over with a fork. This will release any steam that develops under the crust as it bakes.

For partially baked pie bottoms, bake for about 15 to 20 minutes at 425°F (220°C).

For fully baked pie bottoms, bake for about 25 to 30 minutes at 425°F (220°C).