Fresh pie crust is roughly a million percent more delicious than store bought frozen pie crust, and it's pretty easy. And if you make your own pie crust then you can tell people you made your own delicious pie crust and they WILL be impressed.
There are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind when you're making your own pate brisee, but mostly you just need to remember COLD. Ice cold. The colder the butter, the flakier the crust. Try not to work your dough too much- the more you work a dough, the more active the gluten becomes and the stretchier and tougher your dough will become. If you feel like your dough is becoming too stretchy or gooey, put it down and walk away. Let it rest. If you need to work the dough with your hands, you can dip them in ice water to keep them cold. Let your dough chill in the fridge if you can before rolling it out.
Think light, flaky, cold. Pie crust that melts in your mouth, not pie crust that is chewy. Right? Right.
Having a good solid surface to roll out your dough is key. A stone (granite, marble) counter top is perfect. We have butcher block counters in our kitchen, and I prefer to use an additional surface when I roll out dough because butcher block can stain. When our builders installed our butcher block, they turned the cut out piece from our range into a huge block for me, this is what I use for rolling out dough. You can also find stone slabs at kitchen supply shops (Williams-Sonoma has one here)- stone is great because it stays cool.
Some people like to use shortening in their pie crust, but I prefer straight up butter. To me the flavor is richer, the crust is lighter. Generally, when I'm making a pate brisee, I use a Martha Stewart recipe. It's a good one, and until I stumble across something better, I'm going to be loyal to Martha's. Her recipe is as follows:
- 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) plus 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 1/2 cup ice water
- Pulse flour and salt in a food processor to combine. Add butter, cut into small pieces, and pulse until mixture forms coarse crumbs with some larger pieces remaining, about 10 seconds.
- With machine running, add ice water in a slow, steady stream until dough just holds together without being wet or sticky, no longer than 30 seconds.
- Divide dough in half; flatten and shape into disks, and wrap each in plastic. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.
Martha Stewart also has a wonderful tip sheet for successful pie crust, which you can find here.
Source: Martha Stewart, Pate Brisee