Basics of Pie Crust, As Taught By the French

There is no dessert that is simpler to prepare than pie. Prepare the pie crust, slice the fruit, and bake. Almost any fruit or fruit combination can be used to produce a sweet pie. Apple, cherry, strawberry, peach, and apricot are among the most popular fillings for pies, but the list is lengthy.

The key to a delicious pie is in the crust. If you lack the time or energy to make a crust from scratch, it is acceptable to use a pre-made crust. However, handcrafted flaky crusts will please the entire family if you take the time to make them with your own hands.

The French have a variety of pates, or pie crusts, each with its own distinct purpose. The three major pie crusts (savory or sweet) are pate sablée, pate brisée and pate feuilletée. Their French names describe their distinct textures.

The sablée is primarily used for sweets, pies, and flans. It is really simple and only a pinch of sugar to achieve the sablée texture. Sablée means “sandy” or “crumbly” in pie terminology.

The brisée crust is nearly identical to the sablée, but with additional butter and sugar. It is the most adaptable of French crusts and is utilized in both quiches and desserts.

The last of the three sister pie crusts is feuilletée. Feuilleté derives from the French word feuille, which means “sheet” or “leaf,” resulting in a flaky puff pastry. This crust is quite challenging to manufacture. If its specific directions are not followed to the letter, the outcome will be pitiful (I speak for experience here). It requires an abundance of butter to get its famed texture.

There are a few secrets to preparing a delicious pie crust. I am not a certified pastry chef, but I have learned a few things through trial and error.

Use cold butter or margarine. Softened butter makes for the limp crust. Before rolling out the dough, chilling it makes it simpler to roll out. Be careful not to excessively work the dough. Adding sugar to the pie pan’s bottom will cause the sugar to caramelize and make the crust slightly crisp and tasty. This is especially beneficial to apple crumble pie.

Using a food processor makes it simple to avoid overworking the dough. Simply pulse the dough until it begins to form huge curds or balls. Then, cease. Chill the dough and roll it out 30 minutes later for a flawless pie crust. In the classic American tradition, top it with your favorite ice cream.

Apple-Pear Tart

This is one of those recipes that comes together quickly when you need a tasty dessert. If peaches are not in season, this pie can be made sweeter and more flavorful by the addition of apples.

For the Flaky Pastry Crust (Pate Sablée): This yields one large or two tiny pie crusts. Freeze the extra crust for future use in small pies.

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 stick chilled butter or margarine, cubed
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 egg, softly beaten
  • 2-3 tablespoons cold water
  • 12 teaspoon vanilla extract

For Filling:

  • 5 peaches, peeled and diced;
  • 3 Golden Delicious apples, peeled and diced; — 3 tablespoons sugar;
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence

Flour, butter, and sugar combining in a food processor. Pulse well. Add liquid ingredients and pulse until curds or balls form (approximately 2 minutes). Immediately stop. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes or until use. (at this point, the dough can be placed in an airtight container and frozen for up to two months.)

Prepare fruit filling by blending apples, peaches, sugar, and vanilla together in the basin. Allow time for the fluids to marinade.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Roll dough on a board dusted with flour. Transfer to a pie plate (ungreased). Add the fruit mixture and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the crust’s edges are golden brown but not burnt.

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