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Basic Tart Shell or Pâte Brisée

Basic Tart Shell or Pâte Brisée

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Pâte Brisée (pronounced paht bree-ZAY), is the French version of classic pie or tart pastry dough. You can see it mentioned as pie dough or savoury shortcrust dough.

The word pâte means dough and brisée means broken or cut-in, which is a method used, working solid shortening into dry ingredients with two knives or a pastry blender.

Rub-in is working solid shortening or butter into dry ingredients with fingers.

The butter is broken into pieces and rubbed with the fingers (it can also be done in a food processor) until it resembles coarse meal.  A little bit of cold water is then added to hold the dough together.

Pâte Sucrée (which means having sugar = sweet), is basically the same as Pâte Brisée but it has some confectioners’ sugar in the dough, which is added to the flour before rubbing in the cold butter and an egg to bind it together.

Pâte Sablée (which means sandy) is similar to Sucrée but has a higher sugar ratio than sucrée, which makes it more suitable for desserts.

So, to recap, Pâte Brisée is used to make savoury tarts, pies, quiches and more.  Adding a little sugar in the crust (Pâte Sucrée), you can make sweet pies, tarts, tartlettes, biscuits etc.

Instead of buying ready made tart shells which cost twice the price, you can make your own and it is much easier than you think, if you follow the basic instructions.

After making my first tart recipe with peaches I read more recipes about making tarts and since this one worked fine for me I decided to post the tart shell separately as I will be using it a lot in the future.

A few things to remember:

  • The basic pie crust ingredients are just four:  butter, flour, salt and water.
  • You should remember that you need two parts butter and three parts flour.  For example if you will add 200 grams butter you will need 300 grams flour.
  • The butter should always be cold.
  • If you will add sugar, you can either use crystal sugar or brown sugar.
  • If you want to flavour your pie crust, you can add vanilla, cinnamon, mastic powder, lemon zest etc.
  • You do not need to add much water.  Just enough to make the crumbles form into a ball.
  • You must not overwork the dough so as the butter will not melt.
  • You should refrigerate the dough before rolling it out.
  • Depending on the recipe, if the pie crust is blind baked, put some weights on it, so that the tart shell does not rise or shrink.

Basic tart shell photo

Basic Tart Shell or Pâte Brisée

Yield: 1 tart
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Additional Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Pâte Brisée (pronounced paht bree-ZAY), is the French version of classic pie or tart pastry dough. You can see it mentioned as pie dough or savoury shortcrust dough.


  • 340 grams all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp sugar (if making a sweet crust)
  • 2 tablespoons (or more if your like it sweet) granulated white sugar ( skip for savory tarts)
  • 226 grams unsalted butter, chilled, grated on a box grater or cut into small pieces
  • Ice water (about 2 - 3 tbsp)


  1. Cut the butter into small pieces or grate it on a box grater.
  2. Sift the flour over the butter, add the salt (and sugar if you want to make a sweet crust) and rub it with your hands until the butter is absorbed and resembles coarse meal.
  3. Add the water gradually and mix until the dough forms into a ball.
  4. Flatten into a disk, cover with cling film and refrigerate for 15 minutes before using.  
  5. Brush your tart pan with butter.
  6. Turn the dough out on a non-stick mat or on parchment paper and cover it with the cling film.
  7. Roll out the dough to fit into your tart pan. With the silicon mat or parchment paper, it is easy to turn the pastry round as you are rolling, it never sticks on the counter, you do not have to flour your working surface and it is easy to flip it into the tart pan.
  8. Just move the cling film to cover the dough where you are rolling.
  9. When you have inverted the dough in the tart pan, cut off any dough, which is in excess, cut off any dough, which is in excess, cover it with the cling film and refrigerate for half an hour.
  10. Preheat the oven to 180ο C / 350ο F (or 160ο C / 320ο F, if a convection oven) and place rack in centre of oven.
  11. Remove the cling film and line the unbaked pastry shell with the parchment paper.
  12. Cover with beans or any other similar weight, making sure that you distribute the beans evenly over the entire surface.
  13. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the crust is dry and lightly browned.
  14. Remove the beans and cool crust.
  15. Proceed with desired recipe that calls for a pre-baked shell.


Do not discard the beans as you can use them to bake many more tarts.

Did you make this recipe?

Tried this recipe? Tag me @ivyliac and use the hashtag #kopiaste!

Update:  24th August 2013

Today I bought a new fluted tart pan with a removable bottom, which I wanted to use immediately.

Tart pan with removable bottom image

However, I did not have the exact ratio of butter to flour, so I used one part butter and two parts flour.  The result was still great, although the dough was less buttery.

The new tart pan is 25,4 cm / 10 inch in diametre, so I added more flour as I needed to make the dough a bit bigger.

The only ingredients I had available at the time was some anthotyros (a Greek way cheese, similar to ricotta), some eggs, Greek yoghurt and a jam similar to my fig jam, so I made this Fig and Cheese Tart. 

In this recipe, I grated the butter and used what remained on the butter wrapping to butter my tart pan.  There was some leftover butter on the box grater, which I removed by sprinkling some of the flour, from the amount of flour mention in the recipe, and rubbing it on the grater, until all the butter fell off.

I like flavouring my sweet tart shells and usually I add vanilla.  In this recipe, I used masticha but you can add vanilla or any other flavour you prefer.

Finally, as I used this tart shell with a filling which needed more baking, I removed it from the oven five minutes earlier.  I brushed the tart shell with some egg white and baked it for another five minutes.

This is done so that tart shell is sealed so as not to make the tart shell soggy with the fluid ingredients.

Collage How to make Tart Shell image

Masticha Tart Shell (with Baked Cheese Filling)

Makes:  1 for 25,4 cm / 10 inch tart pan

Yields:  about 10 servings


  • 185 grams about 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and grated
  • 370 grams (about 2 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup (4 tablespoons) sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons ice water, plus more if needed
  • 1 tsp pounded masticha powder
  • ½ egg white


See recipe and instructions here:


  1. Grate the butter in a big bowl.  Use the flour to clean your grater on both sides.  Add remaining flour, sugar, masticha powder and salt and mix until flour is absorbed from butter.  Do not over work as butter will melt.  Add  water and mix until the crumbles form the dough.
  2. Cover with cling film and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.
  3. Put a sheet of parchment paper on your work surface.
  4. Unfold the cling film and flip over the dough on the parchment paper.  Keep the cling film to cover the dough when rolling.
  5. Using a roller pin, roll out the pastry bigger than your tart pan, around 30 cm / 12 inch and make a round shell so as to cover the sides of your baking tart pan.  Remove the dough with the help of the parchment paper and flip it over to your tart pan.
  6. If it does not turn out perfect, cut pieces of dough, place them where needed, put the parchment paper on top and with your hands press the dough to cover the whole tart pan.
  7. Add some weight on top (I used my beans) and cut the parchment around your pan.
  8. Refrigerate it for 30 minutes.
  9. Preheat the oven to 180ο C / 350ο  F (or 160ο C / 320ο F, if a convection oven) and bake for about 20 minutes or until golden if the shell will be used for a filling which does not need further baking.
  10. If you will be baking with the filling, remove the shell after 15 minutes.  Whisk the egg lightly with a fork and brush the shell.  Bake for another 5 minutes.
  11. Add the filling and bake for 10 -15 minutes more or according to the instructions on each recipe.

Fig Cheese tart image

You can find my Greek recipes in my cookbook “More Than A Greek Salad”, and “Mint, Cinnamon & Blossom Water, Flavours of Cyprus, Kopiaste!” both available on all Amazon stores as well as through my website.

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Collage How to Make a Tart Shell image

Other related Recipes:

Fig & Peach Anthotyro Cheese Tart

Apple Pie and Apple Tart

Chocolate and Quince Tart

Apricot Salted Caramel Oreo Tart

Peaches and Grapes Tart

Spinach & Mushroom Tart with Buffalo Butter & Cheese

Feta and Graviera Quiche with Bacon

Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,

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Jess and Brandon

Friday 13th of February 2015

It looks great and I bet is delicious. I can't wait to try this new recipe.


Monday 15th of September 2008

Ivy, very solid tutorial. Normally I eat and either get a pre-baked crust from the store or use a box mix but now I will know how to make my own.


Monday 15th of September 2008

Can't wait for the round-up. Meanwhile, I'm off to Bangkok for a little R&R. By the way, the fig cookies look great but the husband's just informed me (after 9 years!) that he doesn't really like figs. Hrumph!

Lubna Karim

Monday 15th of September 2008

Wow looks so simple to make. Thanks for sharing.


Monday 15th of September 2008

Mmmmm, I think that the savory pies' bug is in me ;D. It's not that hard, afterall!!! Thanks for the tips dear Ivy :D

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