For years I watched French friends whip up pie crusts for a quick quiche or tart so naturally that it seemed like something anyone could do. On an extended quiche kick one winter, I decided to try to make my own dough from scratch. Thus began my long and exasperating struggle with pâte brisée. Turns out the French are either born with innate mastery of dough, or my friends just had a flair for the patisserie; in any case, it took many attempts on my part before I could make a tart from scratch.
The trick with this recipe is not to overwork the dough, allowing for the water to be absorbed by the flour and butter mixture. The result is a flaky, versatile dough that works with both savory and sweet dishes. You can buy premade dough, of course, but there is little in life that rivals the feeling of satisfaction that comes with making your own.
Mix flour and salt together, in a bowl or a food processor, on low speed. Add butter and mix until fully combined. If using a food processor, mix slowly and no longer than 15 seconds; if combining by hand, mix together for no longer than a minute, just enough to integrate butter. It is okay if there are some lumps in the dough; these will disappear between the rolling out and baking. Slowly add ice water while combining or mixing by hand again. Do not work the dough longer than another 15–30 seconds with a food processor or 1 minute by hand. Gather dough together with hands—it can be a bit crumbly, but should stick when pressed together. Form a disc with the dough, about
Once chilled, remove dough from refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature. If the dough is too cold when rolling out it will tear, and if it is too warm it will stick to the rolling pin and countertop. When the dough is just slightly sticky, roll it out on a floured surface with a floured rolling pin. Roll to desired size, flipping over as necessary. Make sure dough has a uniform thickness and that it corresponds to the size of the pie tin.
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