Whole Wheat Pâte Brisée


This is a classic, buttery French pastry dough based on a recipe by Chicago-based French pastry chef Jacquy Pfeiffer. Instead of using entirely all-purpose flour, I use half whole wheat flour, resulting in a rich pie crust with a nutty, complex flavor.

I worked with Jacquy on his book The Art of French Pastry and became a devoted convert to using metric weights as opposed to cup measures when I make pastry of all kinds. It’s much easier and more accurate to weigh ingredients on a scale than to measure them in cups, with results that are always consistent. If you don’t believe me, try weighing a cup of flour. Now weigh another cup, and you will see that the weight will be different. Do this 10 times if you really want to be convinced. That’s the exercise Jacquy puts his students through when they begin at the school he founded in Chicago, the French Pastry School.

222 grams French-style butter such as Plugrá (8 ounces), at room temperature
175 grams whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour (approximately 1½ cups less 1 tablespoon)
175 grams unbleached all-purpose flour (approximately 1½ cups less 1 tablespoon)
7 grams fine sea salt (1 teaspoon)
92 grams water (6 tablespoons)

  1. Make sure that your butter is at room temperature. Place it in the bowl of a stand mixer. Sift together the flours and salt and add to the mixer. Mix at low speed just until well combined. Do not overbeat. Add the water and beat at low speed just until the mixture comes together. Do not overmix or you will activate the gluten in the flour too much and your pastry will be tough.
  2. Weigh the dough and divide into two equal pieces. Place each half on a sheet of plastic and flatten into a square about ½ inch thick. Wrap well and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.
  3. Lightly brush two 9-inch tart pans with a very small amount of soft butter (if you can see the butter, you’ve used too much). Roll out the dough and line the tart pans. Using a fork, pierce rows of holes in the bottom, about an inch apart. This will allow steam to escape and aid in even baking. Refrigerate uncovered for several hours or preferably overnight.
  4. To prebake, heat the oven to 325°F. Remove a tart shell from the refrigerator and place on a sheet pan. Line the tart shell with a sheet of parchment. Fill all the way with pie weights (which can be beans or rice used exclusively for prebaking pastry, or special pie weights). Place in the middle of the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the pie weights and parchment and return to the oven. Bake for another 15 minutes, or until light golden brown and evenly colored. There should be no evidence of moisture in the dough. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

ADVANCE PREPARATION: The dough should be mixed up at least a day ahead and will keep in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days. For best results, mix it up 2 days ahead, roll it out the next day, and leave it in the refrigerator overnight, uncovered, before prebaking. It also freezes well. You can freeze it either before or after rolling out. Double wrap the dough you are freezing in plastic and then in foil. If you have lined the pan, you can transfer it directly from the freezer to the oven to prebake (remove all wrapping first); you will not need to use pie weights.