Several baked pies such as pecan and pumpkin on dark wooden surface
Pâte Brisée Vs. Regular Pie Crust: What's The Distinction?
American-style pie crust may be your go-to choice when it's time to bake, but French-style pâte brisée, or "broken pastry" in French, should also be part of your repertoire.
Pâte brisée is great for desserts and savory quiches, tarts, and meat pies. It has a crisp, crumbly texture and buttery, slightly salty flavor, and sugar is almost always added.
To make pâte brisée, all-purpose flour, cold butter, sugar, and salt are blended into coarse crumbs with a food processor or by hand. The cold butter is essential for flakiness.
Cold water is added, and the mixture is kneaded by hand with a method called fraisage, in which you use the heel of your palm to drive the flour into the dough.
American pie crust is prepared similarly to pâte brisée using almost identical ingredients, with two exceptions. The cold, solid fat isn't kneaded as thoroughly into the flour.
The fat is cut into the flour using a pastry cutter or one's fingertips, leaving small but visible pieces of solid fat distributed evenly throughout the dough.
American pie crust also usually skips the sugar. This gives it a neutral flavor and sturdy texture that has a more solid bite or "pull" to it, compared to delicate pâte brisée.
Beyond prep methods, the differences in these crusts come down to the sugar. Sugar in pâte brisée sweetens and caramelizes in the oven while inhibiting the production of gluten.
Gluten gives baked goods structure, which is why sugarless American pie crust is firmer. Experiment with using either one in your recipes, as both are delicious and distinctive.