Pate Brisee is truly an amazing thing. This all-purpose pastry is super easy to make and has truly become my go-to pastry. Pate brisee is a traditional french shortcrust pastry that is used a lot in savoury applications such as quiches and savoury tarts. I like to use it in both savoury and sweet applications because it is so versatile.
I remember back in my first year of high school when I first learned to make this all-purpose pastry, for our final assignment of the pastry unit, we had to make a dish that was centred around some type of pastry. I chose pate brisee, because I thought it was so interesting. My confident grade-nine self decided that I wanted to make beef wellington because I was so confident with myself – I could never be that confident again! Though beef wellington is normally made with puff pastry, I use this all-purpose pastry as the foundation of what I call rough puff pastry which is a much less time-consuming imitation of puff pastry. Anyways, long story short, I really set myself up for high expectations for the rest of my high school culinary career getting an A+ on this pastry exam by making beef wellington using pate brisee.
From that alone, you can probably tell how versatile and easy to use pate brisee is, hence why I call it my all-purpose pastry. I’ll guide you through a super easy and simple way to make the most versatile pastry I know that you’ll be able to use for anything, sweet or savoury!
Until next time, Happy Adventuring!
Normally for pastry, we would use pastry flour, which has a very low protein content allowing for very little gluten development. This results in a delicate pastry. While that is what we want with pastry, we also do need to keep in mind that there is a lot of butter in this recipe, meaning that we also need enough gluten to hold up to the amount of fat in the recipe. That’s why I chose a mix of all-purpose and pastry flour, allowing for a delicate pastry, but that can also hold up to the fat.
My entire life, I’ve never understood using anything but butter. My grandparents use margarine on their toast, and I find it somewhat repulsive. My aunt’s mom makes all her pastries with shortening, I don’t get it. Butter adds this amazingly rich and deep flavour to everything you add butter to. Traditionally, pate brisee is made using three-fifths of the volume of the flour in fat, though I’ve changed it to be one-half, allowing there to be a limit to the richness that is added to the dough.
Normally I don’t explain the significance of water in a recipe, because it is pretty self-explanatory. Though in this recipe, water does play a crucial role, and the understanding of the role it plays is very important. For this recipe, we don’t want too much water. Too much water will cause there to be gluten development, which we want to inhibit to an extent. Water will also result in a wetter dough creating a more tender final product when we want something more flakey. It is also important to pay attention to the need to use ice water. It is important to not use tepid or warm water because we don’t want to melt the butter. We want the butter to melt in the oven, creating layers between the pastry, but not before then! It is utterly important that the water is ice cold to prevent any butter from melting!
Adding sugar to this pastry is entirely optional. The only reason it is included in this recipe is for when you want to use it for sweet applications, like a pie or tart. There have been times when I’ve completely left out the sugar when using this all-purpose pastry for savoury tarts.
Making pate brisee is very simple. It’s really a two-step process using minimal space, equipment, and ingredients. You’ll start off with getting your equipment ready, a mixing bowl, a box grater, and some sort of mixing device, I often use the back end of a wooden spoon. The methodology for this pastry is very similar to that of the Cheddar Thyme Scones.
Once you’ve assembled your equipment, you’ll start to measure out the ingredients. All the dry ingredients can go directly into the mixing bowl. Using your mixing utensil, mix the dry ingredients together so that everything is well distributed throughout the flour. Once everything is well combined, take out your box grater.
Placing your box grater over the dry ingredients, you’ll grate the butter into the dry ingredients. I know, it’s weird, grating your butter. But don’t judge me yet, keep going and you’ll see why I tell you to do this at the very end! Using your hands, distribute the grated butter throughout the dry ingredients so that the butter has somewhat broken into smaller pieces and is evenly distributed. Take your ice water and drizzle it into the dry ingredients, starting with three tablespoons and then slowly adding one tablespoon at a time. Between each addition, mix it thoroughly, ensuring you don’t knead it, just mix it. Keep adding water until it reaches a consistency when it looks crumbly, but when you take some in your hand and make a fist, it stays together and doesn’t fall apart.
Push the dough together into a ball and take it out onto your work surface. Cut the dough into two parts and form each part into a ten- to fifteen-centimetre disc. Wrap the discs in plastic wrap and set them in the fridge for a minimum of two hours. This allows the butter to solidify again, the flour to hydrate, and the glutens to relax. All of this will result in a perfectly tender and flakey pastry. At this stage, you can keep them in the fridge for up to one week, or in the freezer for up to four weeks.
After you take them out of the fridge, keep them at room temperature for a bit of time, about 15 minutes, to allow the butter to soften just enough to be able to roll the dough. Each disc will roll into an eight- to ten-inch circle, meaning this dough will make one two-shelled pie or two one-shelled pies. To bake, I normally bake it at 375F, though you can bake it at 350F as well, though it may not hold its shape as well. And that is how you make my go-to all-purpose pastry!
Easy Pâte Brisée
- 225 g butter cold
- 150 g all-purpose flour
- 150 g pastry flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 65 ml water ice-cold
- Mixing bowl
- Cheese grater
- Using the cheese grater, grate your cold butter on the cutting board.
- In a mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and mix well.
- Add the grated butter to the dry ingredients and combine until the butter forms different sized pieces ranging from the size of cornmeal to the size of a small pea.
- Slowly add the water, one tablespoon at a time, until the pastry comes together when pushed together, but is not stretchy.
- Divide the dough into two, and faltten into discs 15 cm in diametre.
- Wrap the discs in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least an hour.
- Take the dough out of the fridge and allow for the butter to soften just enough to roll out. Roll to desired thickness and shape and use as desired!
- Bake the pastry at 350°F/175°C convection or at 375°F/190°C for conventional ovens.