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Pie making almost always begins with the crust. If you haven't made your own crust before, don't be intimidated. Although the process requires precision, it's not difficult. Pate brisee is a wonderfully versatile basic pie dough. Make it a few times, and you'll have the recipe down pat.
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Ingredients and Equipment
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces
- 1/4 cup ice water, plus more if needed
- Food processor
- Rolling pin
- Glass pie plate or metal pie tins
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Step 1: Making the Pie Dough
In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour and salt; pulse to combine. After the dry ingredients are pulsed together, the butter pieces are added all at once. The mixture is pulsed again until it has clumps ranging in size from coarse crumbs to 1/2 inch. This usually requires only a few pulses and takes about 10 seconds; it's very important not to overprocess the dough. (To mix by hand, combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, then cut in butter with a pastry blender.)
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Ice water is added (with the machine running) until the texture of the dough is crumbly and just holds together; the dough should not be wet or sticky. Do not process more than 30 seconds. Test by squeezing a small amount of the dough together; if it is still too crumbly, add a bit more water, 1 tablespoon at a time.
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The crumbly dough is transferred to a work surface and divided in half. Each portion is placed on a sheet of plastic wrap; the wrap is gathered around the dough and pulled toward the center to form a ball. The dough is then flattened into a disk and chilled. The dough can be frozen for up to 1 month; thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using.
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Step 4: Rolling the Pie Dough
Roll dough back to its proper dimension. Start rolling, working from center. If dough loses circular shape, place end of pin near the crooked edge and roll, working that area by pressing with one hand while holding the pin loosely with the other. Keep the work surface floured so the dough doesn't lose its shape, stick, or tear. Every few passes, release the dough by running a long offset spatula underneath, then throw more flour under it. As you go, run your fingers around the edges of the dough to feel if the thickness is even (and if not, to find where you need to roll more).
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Step 5: Fitting the Pie Dough
After the pie dough is rolled out to its proper dimension, it's then rolled back up over the pin and gently draped over the pie plate. The dough is then fitted into it.
Once the dough is fit properly into the pie plate, kitchen shears are used to trim the dough, leaving an even overhang along the perimeter of the plate.