The rich flavor, delicate texture, and versatility of pate brisee have made it the standard at Martha Stewart Living and in our Pies & Tarts book, where it is used for pies and tarts both sweet and savory. From three main components -- flour, fat, and water -- plus a little sugar and salt, you get a crust that is incomparably flaky, yet sturdy enough to contain nearly any filling. An all-butter pate brisee tastes best, but some cooks use shortening or lard for additional tenderness. The name pate brisee means "broken pastry," and refers to cutting the butter into the flour, either by hand or with a food processor. The butter-flour mixture should resemble coarse meal, with some pieces of butter the size of small peas, before cold water is drizzled into it; these bits of unincorporated butter give pate brisee its famously flaky texture by releasing steam as they melt.
You don't have to wake up extra-early to bake something from scratch for breakfast -- even on weekday mornings. With a batch of this versatile baking mix in the refrigerator or freezer, you'll never be more than minutes away from tender, tasty, fresh-from-the-oven biscuits, scones, and muffins.