Flaky Pie Crust (Pâte Brisée)
Updated: Mar 21, 2021
Pâte Brisée or flaky Pie Dough is one of the most versatile pastry. Similar to puff pastry, Pâte Brisée is the thing you want to keep in hand whenever you are making pies or tarts. Do not confuse this pastry with sweet short crust or Pate Sucre. Pate Sucre is a sweet short crust that contains sugar, is sweet and has a texture that resembles a sweet cookie. Pâte Brisée usually do not contain any sugar and is flaky in texture, perfect for both savory or sweet pies.
In here I will be sharing with you the one and only Pâte Brisée recipe that you will ever need and it is so simple to make.
Tips on making the best Pie Pastry
1. Make sure the butter is cold but pliable.
Ensure that the butter is cold but not rock hard. You should be able to pinch the butter cube without it being solid hard or melt in your hands.
2. Rub in the butter by hands with chunks of butter still visible in the dough
Rub in the butter into the flour. By doing this, the fat will start to coat the flour granules that contain protein that can developed into gluten if in contact with liquid and mixed. The fat coating will ensure that the protein is unable to link on to one another and form into gluten that can make the pastry really tough or chewy.
I find that this process is best made by hand because it is so much easier to control without over mixing. You want to leave chunky bits of butter still visible in the dough as this will help separate the layers in the pastry during making, which is what makes it so flaky!
For more information on the rub-in method, visit to my post on " Pâtè Sucrée (Sweet Short Crust Pastry) using the Rub-In Method " . Although, when making Pâte Brisée, we want to leave some big chunks of butter in the dough which will help elevates the pastry by separating the layers of dough and butter when being baked in the oven, very much like making puff pastry but without the laminating process.
2. Ensure that all ingredients such as eggs and water are super cold.
The cold water and eggs will ensure that the butter or any other fat does not melt away during mixing. Gluten development also slows down when the wet ingredients are cold because at a cold temperature, the gluten forming proteins in the wheat flour finds it hard to absorb the liquid compare to when hot or warm liquid is added, which is what causes gluten to form. Gluten can make the pastry become very chewy and tough. We want the pastry to be brittle and flaky.
Cold temperature can be anything below 5°C. Even better, use ice water if you can!
3. Do not over mix.
Over mixing the pastry dough can cause the pastry to become too tough because of gluten development. Although we are using plain flour here, but there are still gluten forming protein present in the flour. So the trick is add the cold liquid in to the dry mix and mix only until they just come together.
4. Do not let the pastry goes too warm when rolling
When you are "stacking" and rolling the pastry, make sure that the dough do not get too warm. If you can feel the butter melting away on your hands, wrap them up and simply place it back into the fridge to chill before proceeding to rolling again.
5. Types of fat
Although shortenings will always yield a better crust because of its zero or near zero water content. However, I am almost always adamant to never use shortening to substitute butter unless if I really really have to. Shortening is good for a really flaky pie crust but it just lacks that goodness in flavor that a butter can give. So, in that argument I am pro butter always!
6. Using Liquor to substitute water
Water or any other liquid are always needed when making pie crust because it is what that helps bind all the ingredients together. However, believe it or not, you can most definitely substitute 50% of the water in the recipe with a hard liquor like Vodka. The alcohol content in the liquor inhibits gluten from forming in the wheat flour altogether.
Do not worry too much about getting drunk from eating the pie crust because when you bake the pie crust, the alcohol content evaporates. The downside about using liquor though, is cost. Therefore, it is really up to you on how far you would go.
The recipe I will be sharing omits the use of liquor but you can always change that. :)
7. Portion the pastry and stack on top of each other several times
When you have achieved a pastry dough, one of the trick to make your pie dough a lot flakier is by portioning them in to quarters and stacking them on top of each other, then pressing them flat and repeat this process 2 to 3 times without letting the dough go too soft.
Let the dough rest and chill in fridge wrapped if necessary during the process. This method is very similar to a process call "lamination". As long as you have chunky bits of butter in your dough, the stacking and flattening is creating more layers between the fat and dough making them puff up with more layers and ultimately flakier! Pretty cool huh?!
So here is the recipe to make the ultimate flaky pie dough. It is really that simple!
Make a delicious "Apple Crumble Tart" with this Pie Crust Pastry Recipe!
200 g Cold Unsalted Butter
400 g Plain Flour
3 g Salt
60 g /3 u Egg Yolks
6 tbs Iced water
1. Cut cold butter into cubes (around 15mm/1.5 cm).
2. Rub cold butter cubes with flour and salt with the tip of the fingers. The mixture should be crumbly with still some lumps of butter in the mix.
3. Stir egg yolks and 2/3 of the cold water into the dry mix.
4. Mix with a fork or by hand until when you press the flour mix between your hands, they clump together into a dough. Add more liquid if the dough feels dry. You do not necessarily need all the liquid. Depending on the humidity on the day, amount of liquid required varies.
5. Transfer the dough on to a floured bench and gently knead until they just come together. (Do not over knead, the dough should still have bits of butter pieces visible in them).
6. Cut the dough in to 4 parts, stack them on top of one another and gently press down. Repeat this process 2 more times (3 times in total).