Lesson 13: Pâté Brisée (Pie Crust)

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Pâte Brisée in French translates to “pastry” referring to traditional pastry dough also known as shortcrust. This pie crust is so easy to make and so good that you’ll never buy premade pie crust ever again. The way you mix the ingredients, the crust turns out flaky. Flakiness is always something for which to strive in pie crust, gluten free or not.

After creating over 30 gluten free pie crust recipes, the general consensus is that the Flaky Pie Crust Recipe (AKA pâte brisée) is the best. It has received high praise from many gluten-eaters as well as gluten free and adopted as their go-to crust for just about everything. It certainly is mine. However, feel free to peruse the entire category of Gluten Free Pie Crust Recipes. Don’t miss the Gluten Free Pie Crust with Almond Flour, which has the most flavor is sturdy enough to use for apple pie, custard, and more.

Temperature of Ingredients

Usually in baking, you want everything to be room temperature so that even baking occurs as well as a nice high rise in cakes, etc. However, when you’re talking flaky pie or pastry, you want super cold butter and dough, always! Cold ingredients create crisp crust, even in deep-frying. Have you ever noticed that those frozen French fries you buy in a bag turn out super crispy? Well, those layers of dough that you want to turn out flaky are no different. So, use cold butter, iced water, and chill the dough after each step including rolling and prior to baking. Also, be sure not to handle the dough too much. The heat from your hands will heat up and soften the dough. Using a cold surface also helps. Consider using a marble or granite countertop or cutting board, which are all made from material that tends to remain cold.

Why Add Sugar?

Sugar is not added to traditional pâté brisée, though you may if you wish. You can lessen or omit sugar completely for savory fillings. However, using a little sugar to make something savory like Chicken Pot Pie still tastes delicious.

Sugar not only sweetens dough but assists in browning, which you typically need in gluten free dough. If you use tapioca flour in the flour blend you use, it will brown better than cornstarch. However, tapioca is a bit chewier than cornstarch. So, it’s up to you which one you use. If you’re using dairy butter, go for the cornstarch if your diet allows because butter helps brown crust.

How Does Xanthan Gum Affect the Dough?

As I explain in the Make-Ahead Pie Crust Recipe, the more gum you use, the sturdier the crust becomes and the easier the dough is to handle, roll, and transfer to the pie dish. When you want a tender, flaky crust that almost falls apart as in the photo at the bottom of the Flaky Pie Crust Recipe page, just use 2 teaspoons of xanthan gum. When you want to make an apple pie with chunks of raw apples that may cut into dough, use 2-1/2 teaspoons of xanthan gum. For a happy in between, 2-1/4 teaspoons of xanthan gum will do just fine.

Can I Use Guar Gum or Psyllium Husk Powder?

You will need to use more guar gum than xanthan gum in pie crust. My experience dictates 1.5 times the amount of guar gum compared to xanthan gum when a recipe does not contain eggs or other binders.

You may use psyllium husk in an equal amount compared to xanthan gum, but the dough will be softer and harder to handle. Therefore, be sure to keep the dough chilled at all times.

Should I Dust the Rolling Surface with Flour?

Always dust the rolling surface with flour. However, do not use too much flour unless otherwise instructed to do so. The overuse of flour dries out the dough. If this does occur, be sure to wet any cracks with water and dab on a little flour to seal. You can also knead more water into the dough. However, the more you knead the dough, the tougher it will become.

What Does “Par-Bake” Mean?

Par-bake means partially bake. To prevent pie fillings from making the bottom and side dough soggy, baking 10 – 15 minutes prior to filling helps the dough stay crisp and flaky. You can bake it fully, 20 minutes or more for a filling that doesn’t need any baking.

Are Pie Weights Necessary?

During the par-bake stage or when baking a pie crust fully, pie weights help keep the sides of the pie crust up against the pan. Dough that contains plenty of fat (butter, shortening, etc.) tend to fall down during baking. Pie weights prevent the dough from falling.

Do I Have to Cut Slits in the Dough Or Is It Just Decorative?

Cutting slits in the top of a double pie crust allow steam to escape. When steam isn’t allowed to escape, pie fillings explode out of a seam between the top and bottom crusts. They also tend to boil over onto oven racks and the floor of the oven. When steam escapes, it prevents soggy crust as well. You will notice that simply cutting a slit is not enough in gluten free baking. You must cut out a little of the dough. If you simply cut a slit, it will bake shut.

How Can I Decorate My Pie?

There are countless ways of decorating a pie crust. You can create a lattice effect which you create by weaving strips of dough like a basket on top of the pie filling. You can simply sprinkle sugar on top of a crust basted with the egg wash of choice. If you have crystalized decorator sugar, use it. However, granulated sugar will do. When you’re using a dough that doesn’t brown well (without dairy or tapioca flour as well as cutout dough pieces placed on top of pie filling) consider using brown sugar for some color. You can also cut out shapes and place them on top dough that fully covers a pie filling. Simply attach them using a little egg wash. Another way of decorating pie crust is to cut out shapes from the top crust. These are just a few of the fancier ideas. Most home bakers just crimp the edges together to create a scalloped look.

How to Make Pâte Brisée

  1. Combine the dry ingredients and set aside.
  2. Add the flour, butter, and a little ice water to a food processor; combine to cut the butter into the flour without making one massive ball of flour. It’s okay and preferred to leave a little unmixed flour in the bowl. Add additional water 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing momentarily after each addition, just until small balls of dough begin to form.
  3. Transfer everything from the food processor to a lightly floured surface and gently combine all of the ingredients without kneading.
  4. Form the dough into two disks for double-crusted pie dough and one disk if making a half recipe for a bottom only crust. You will need less dough for the top crust compared to the bottom. So, divide the dough accordingly. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, 60 minutes, give or take.
  5. Roll the dough large enough to fit into the pie plate you are using. Allow for the bottom width of the pan, the two sides, plus an overhang of at least 1-inch. So, for a 9-inch pie plate, you’ll need 9 inches for the bottom, 4 inches if your pie plate is 2 inches deep (2 inches for each side), and 1/2 inch for a 1/4-inch overhang (1/4-inch for each side). However, you won’t be rolling it in a perfect circle. So, I usually plan on a little larger circle: 9 + 4 + 1 = 14 inches total. Roll out any bottom crust 1/2-inch larger than the top of the pie plate. Refrigerate one or both rolled crusts for at least 20 minutes.
  6. If making a single crust, par-baked pie, line the bottom and sides of the pie plate with the bottom dough, using the back of your knuckles to gently push into the corners. Trim any excess dough (kitchen scissors are handy or a paring knife) unless leaving a 1/4-inch overhang to seal the top dough. Refrigerate the dough until firm.
  7. Remove the crust from the refrigerator. Poke the bottom crust in several places with a fork to prevent it from bubbling up during baking.
  8. If making a double-crusted pie, add the filling and add the top dough. Seal as instructed. Refrigerate double-crusted pies again prior to baking.
  9. Line the bottom and sides of the chilled dough with oiled parchment paper (oiled side touching dough); fill with pie weights and bake for 15 minutes if par baking and 20 minutes if fully baking.
  10. For par-baked crusts, remove from oven and allow to cool prior to filling. Remove the weights and paper and discard. Fill as instructed.

 

ASSIGNMENT:

  1. Flaky Pie Crust Recipe (AKA Pâté brisée)
  1. Minimally, make one of the other Gluten Free Pie Recipes. There are about 50 in all.

Remember, you can always access previous lessons on the Syllabus page.