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Julia Child’s Pâte Brisée Sucrée

A week ago my cooking club had our first gathering of 2010.  Although I haven’t shared any of those meetings for some time we are still going strong as we start year number eight!  It’s amazing to look back at all those dinners (48 of them, so far!) and the fun and food we’ve shared. 
This month’s theme was "Julia": all recipes needed to be from a Julia Child cookbook.  I was assigned dessert and made her Tarte aux Cerises, Flambée (Cherry Tart Flambée).  The result was a little bit of a disaster due to a number of things I can identify and maybe some I have yet to discover.  However, the crust was really good.  I had some leftover from the tart and a few days ago I rolled it out and made a little rustic apple tart with it.  Again, great crust. 
The recipe is just slightly different than the one I normally make, however it also includes some sugar and I really liked the hint of sweetness that it added.  So while I continue to work on the filling part of the Chery Tart recipe the crust will become one of my staples. 
The recipe is written in an interesting way.  The portions listed make one cup of "flour" (Julia’s words) or actually dough.  Then, depending on the size of your pan you multiply the recipe to get the amount you need. 
For an 8" to 9" shell make 1½ times the amount. For a 10" to 11" shell make 2 times the amount. 
Pâte Brisée Sucrée
⅔ cup flour
1 Tbsp sugar
⅛ tsp salt
5½ Tbsp fat: 4 Tbsp chilled butter and 1½ Tbsp shortening
2½ to 3 Tbsp cold water
Food processor method – you may also mix by hand using a pastry blender or a couple of forks
Measure the dry ingredients into the bowl equipped with a steel blade.
Cut the cold butter into ½ Tbsp pieces.  Add the butter and shortening to the flour. 
Pulse the machine four or five times. 
Measure out the low-end of the cold water.  For an 8" crust this would be 3¾ Tbsp, for a 10" crust 5 Tbsp. Turn the machine on and pour the water in all at once; immediately pulse the machine several times until the dough begins to mass on the blade.  If the dough is too dry, add the remaining water a few drops at a time, pulsing a couple of times in between until the dough pulls together.  Do not overmix.
Place the dough on a lightly floured board.  With the heel of one hand (not the palm) rapidly press the pastry by two-spoonful bits down on the board and away from you in a firm, quick smear of about 6 inches.  This constitutes the final blending of fat and flour, or fraisage
With a scraper or spatula, gather the dough into a mass; knead it briefly into a fairly smooth, round ball.  Sprinkle it lightly with flour, wrap in plastic.  Either place in the freezer for 1 hour or in the refrigerator for 2 hours or overnight. 
Because of the high butter content the dough needs to be rolled out quickly.  Place the dough on a lightly floured board (or marble).  If the dough is hard, beat it with a rolling pin to soften it.  Then knead it briefly into a fairly flat circle.  It should be malleable enough to roll without cracking.  Lightly flour the top of the dough then, using firm but gentle pressure roll the dough, turning the dough at a slight angle between each roll.  Roll until you have made a circle large enough for your pan.  The dough must be used immediately once it is rolled out.
Carefully fold the dough into quarters or roll it loosely around your rolling pin to move it to the pan.  Arrange the dough in the pan, trim and crimp the edges. 
You can blind bake the shell, as I did for the Cherry Tart; partially blind bake it; or fill it, as I did with the apples, and then bake it.  Once the shell is in the pan, if there is a wait before you fill it or put it in the oven, return it to the refrigerator to keep it cold. 
  1. Unknown permalink
    16-Jan-2010 1:08 pm

    Looks divine. I resisted Julia for years, but love her stuff now that I\’m older and undeniably wiser. Thanks!-Sortachef,

  2. darcy gerbarg permalink
    26-Oct-2011 7:19 am

    Yo coud at least have specified an oven temperature and time for baking!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. 26-Oct-2011 7:37 am

    Hi Darcy,
    Julia’s recipe does not specify time or temperature, mostly because that is ususally part of the final recipe. For instance if you are baking a peach pie, you’d follow those instructions. I don’t remember what I did for sure when I blind baked this shell, my guess is 425F for about 10 or 15 minutes – just until it the shell was cooked and lightly golden.


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