Know Your Dough: 
George’s as easy as 3, 2, 1 Pate Brisee

There are three main ingredients in a Pate Brisee, basic piecrust: 3 parts flour, 2 parts fat and 1 part liquid. 

Flour forms the structure of the crust, fat adds flavor and a flaky texture while the liquid binds the dough. 

Chill the fat (butter, margarine, shortening, or lard) and liquids (milk or water) before you begin. Chilling keeps the pie crust flaky and prevents the fat pieces from melting into the flour and becoming tough. Next, mix the flour, cut the chilled fat into the dry mixture using a pastry cutter or by pinching the fat into the mixture with your hands. The resulting mixture should have fat lumps no larger than the size of raisins. If making pie in the summer time cool off the flour by measuring your flour and refrigerate one hour before making dough.

Pour in the chilled liquid just until the flour is absorbed, mixing gently with a fork after each addition. You should be able to gently press the dough into a ball. Mix the dough as little as possible: you don't want to cream the lumps of fat into the flour, as a crust without lumps of fat will be dense, not flaky. Note that humidity will affect how much liquid the flour will absorb.

Split the dough into two equal parts. Pat them into balls, flattening them slightly, and wrap them in plastic wrap. The dough needs to rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Overnight is preferred. Chilling lets the flour absorb all of the liquid, lets the dough relax and become more elastic, and keeps the fat in separate pieces which will give the crust a lighter texture when it is baked.

To make the pie shell:
Dust a clean, dry surface with flour; caution to not use too much flour or you will dry out the crust. Remove and unwrap one of the discs of dough from the refrigerator. Flatten the dough slightly with your hands and dust the dough lightly with flour before rolling the dough out with a rolling pin. Start rolling at the center of the dough and work outwards.

Working quickly, roll the dough into a circle a quarter inch thick. The size of the dough round should be wider in diameter than your pie pan; the amount will vary depending upon the depth of your pie plate. Use a dry pastry brush to sweep away any excess flour.

Gently roll the dough around the rolling pin and roll it out, over the pie plate. Without stretching the dough, press the pastry firmly into the pan and trim any excess dough from the edge. Leave a one-inch overhang to make a decorative fluted edge or trim it to a half-inch if you're adding a top crust. If the dough cracks a little during this process, press it back together with your fingers or patch the cracks with a bit of dough from the outer edges.

Place filling in bottom crust, unwrap the second ball of dough. Repeat the above step to roll out the pie dough. Brush the bottom pie dough around the edges lightly with water to seal the edges of crust. Lay the top piece of pie dough carefully over the filled pie. Tuck the edges of the top crust under the lower crust and press together lightly. Using the rim of the pie plate as a guide, create a fluted edge with your fingers or the back of a fork. 

For an apple pie you can cut vents with a sharp paring knife, or use a fork to prick a decorative pattern on the top crust. For other fruit pies you will need a small hole to vent the top allowing excess steam to escape during baking. Brush the surface with egg wash; made of one egg and one teaspoon of water and bake as directed.

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This recipe made with butter will result in a lighter and more flavorful crust. For a very flaky crust prepare the Traditional Pie Crust.

George’s Favorite Pie Crust Recipe
Makes one pie or two bottom crusts

1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup cold milk

Chill the butter and milk before you begin. Chilling keeps the pie crust flaky and prevents the fat pieces from melting into the flour and becoming tough. 

Next, mix the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder. Cut the chilled butter into the dry mixture using a pastry cutter or by pinching the fat into the mixture with your hands. The mixture should have fat lumps no larger than the size of raisins. If making pie crust in the summer time cool off the flour by measuring your flour and refrigerate one hour before making dough.

Pour in the chilled liquid just until the milk is absorbed, mixing gently with a fork. You should be able to gently press the dough into a ball. Mix the dough as little as possible: you don't want to cream the lumps of butter into the flour. A crust without lumps of butter will be dense, not flaky. Note that humidity will effect how much liquid the flour will absorb.

Split the dough into two equal parts. Pat them into balls, flattening them slightly, and wrap them in plastic wrap. The dough needs to rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Overnight is preferred. Chilling lets the flour absorb all of the liquid, lets the dough relax and become more elastic, and keeps the fat in separate pieces which will give the crust a lighter texture when it is baked

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