French pâte brisée is used for both savoury and sweet turnovers, pies and tarts. The dough is made pliable by kneading on the work surface and it should always be thinly rolled. Suitable quantities of ingredients are given in each recipe which calls for pâte brisée.
To make it, sift the flour on to a work surface and make a large well in the centre. Pound the butter with a rolling pin to soften it. Put the butter, egg yolks or eggs, salt and most of the water in the well with flavourings such as sugar. Work these ingredients together with the fingertips of one hand until they are partly mixed. Gradually draw in the flour, pulling the dough into large crumbs using the fingertips of both hands. If the crumbs are dry, sprinkle on more water. Press the dough together; it should be soft but not sticky.
Work the dough with the heel of your hand, pushing it away from you on the work surface and then gathering it up with a spatula; continue for 1-2 minutes until the dough is smooth and pliable. Press it into a ball, wrap and chill it for 30 minutes or until firm. Pâte brisée dough can be kept overnight in the refrigerator, or frozen.