Foolproof Pâte Brisée Tart Crust is an easy, versatile, buttery, and flaky French pastry dough. It is the ultimate secret weapon for delicious savory quiches, sumptuous pies, or heavenly tarts, producing melt-in-your-mouth delicious every time.
Easy and Foolproof
The “easy” in this recipe is two-fold: (1) using the food processor to make the dough, and (2) foregoing the rolling of the pastry and instead dumping the dough into the tart pan and pressing it into shape.
The foregoing of the rolling of the pastry might sound like more trouble than it’s worth, but believe me, it isn’t!
The “foolproof” is substituting Vodka for half of the water that is otherwise added to the dough.
What – Vodka? The use of Vodka actually appeared in Cooks Illustrated sometime back. Also, Scientific American detailed the “science” behind the use of vodka.
Basically, 80-proof Vodka is only 60% water. Although the Vodka helps to form the dough, it doesn’t contribute to gluten formation. Thus, the flakier crust!
Actually, you could use any liquor such as Bourbon or Rum (for pecan pie), Calvados (for apple tart), Gin (for lemon or lime tart), etc. However, the benefit of using Vodka is that it doesn’t add any taste.
Ingredients: Here’s What You’ll Need
The ingredients for this Foolproof Pâte Brisée Tart Crust include all-purpose flour, salt, sugar, unsalted butter, vegetable shortening, water, and Vodka.
Steps: Making Foolproof Pâte Brisée Tart Crust
- For starters, I added the flour, salt, and sugar to my food processor, fitted with a steel blade, and pulsed it 4 or 5 times to combine everything.
- Then I added the butter and shortening, which were cold and cut into small pieces, and pulsed it 8 or 9 times until the mixture resembled a coarse meal.
- Then I added a Tablespoon of cold water and a tablespoon of cold Vodka to the food processor and pulsed it 3 or 4 times.
- I added the remaining water and Vodka to the food processor and pulsed it 3 or 4 additional times until the dough came together in my hand.
Finishing the Pate Brisée Crust
I emptied the dough into a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom and gently pressed the dough up the sides and over the bottom to create the crust.
Then I covered the crust with plastic wrap and used a straight-sided measuring cup to smooth out the crust.
I popped the unbaked crust into the freezer for at least 20 minutes.
Then before baking it, I docked the crust with a fork. I put it on a baking sheet, placed a crumpled piece of parchment paper over the crust, and filled it with dried beans. You could also use rice or pie weights here.
I baked the crust in a preheated 400°F oven for 25 minutes until it was light gold in color.
I carefully removed the parchment paper and dried beans from the crust and returned it to the oven for another 10 minutes or so until it was golden brown.
The filling of choice tonight was an Onion and Mushroom Tart, a favorite of the Master Taste Tester.
The crust was perfectly cooked and so flaky that it melted in your mouth. Yum!
Frequently Asked Questions
I consistently pre-bake my crust to ensure it is crispy and flaky all through.
I use dried beans for pie weights. The reason for pre-baking the crust with the dried beans is to minimize any shrinkage in the crust.
Unlike puff pastry, which is layered with butter and folded multiple times to create thin, flaky layers, Pâté Brisée is mixed until it comes together, creating a sturdy yet tender dough.
Chilling allows the dough’s gluten to relax, preventing shrinkage during baking. It also ensures the butter is cold, leading to a flakier crust when baked.
Pâte Brisée can be made in advance. You can wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze it for up to a month. Remember to thaw it in the refrigerator overnight before using it.
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- Use cold ingredients: Start with cold butter and shortening, and ice-cold water and vodka. This ensures that the butter doesn’t melt before baking, which is what creates those delicious, flaky layers in the crust.
- Don’t overwork the dough: The dough should just come together. Overworking the dough will develop too much gluten and make your crust tough instead of tender and flaky.
- Chill the dough: After making the dough and forming the crust, let it rest in the refrigerator for at least an hour or the freezer for at least 20 minutes. This allows the gluten to relax and the butter to firm up, helping the crust hold its shape during baking.
- Patch cracks or holes: If any cracks or holes develop during pre-baking, brush with the custard filling to seal them before adding the filling.
Different Uses for the Páte Brisée
This Pâte Brisée crust is delicious in quiches. Here are some examples of quiches.
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Foolproof Pâte Brisée Tart Crust
- Food Processor fitted with steel blade
- 1 ½ cups (7.5 ounces, 213 grams) all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- 5 Tablespoons (2.5 ounces, 71 grams) unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces
- 5 Tablespoons (2.5 ounces, 71 grams) vegetable shortening, cold and cut into small pieces
- 2 Tablespoons (1 ounce, 28 grams) ice water
- 2 Tablespoons (1 ounce, 28 grams) Vodka, cold
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Add flour, salt, and sugar to the food processor. Pulse 4 or 5 times to combine. Add butter and vegetable shortening; pulse to combine until mixture resembles coarse meal, about 8 or 9 pulses.
- Add 1 Tablespoon ice water and 1 Tablespoon Vodka to the flour mixture, pulsing after each addition. Add remaining ice water and Vodka; pulse several times. Test the mixture to see if it comes together in your hand.
- Empty the crust mixture into a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Gently press the dough into the tart pan and up the sides to create, then press it back out into the tart pan and up the sides to create the crust. Cover with plastic wrap; smooth out using a metal measuring cup.
- Place in the freezer for at least 20 minutes.
- Place on a baking sheet; dock with a fork. Place a piece of crumpled parchment paper over the crust, and fill it with pie weights, dried beans, lentils, or rice.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until light gold in color. Remove parchment paper and weights. Bake an additional 10 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool.
- Fill with your favorite filling and bake according to the filling recipe.
- 1 9-inch tart crust.