Friday, August 14, 2009

Cleo Coyle's Perfect Sweet Pie Crust, Pâte Sucrée


"God will not look you over for medals,
degrees, or diplomas, but for scars."
~Elbert Hubbard*
*Thanks to Tom Howe
for the quote

To put it another way: Perfection is overrated. There is no "perfect" pie crust. My own crust--the very crust that looks so beautiful in these photos--ended up tearing in places as I transferred it from parchment paper to pan. To make it whole again, I patched it back together. But that's the beauty of pie crust. Easily fixable. A relief when so many other things in life--bones, hearts, feelings--are not so quick to mend.
But I digress...

This Sweet Pie or Tart Crust is my version of the classic French "sweet dough" or pâte sucrée. It is the perfect complement to my Fresh Strawberry Pie, which I wrote about two weeks ago...
In case you missed that post,click here for the Strawberry Pie recipe.
(The recipe will appear in PDF format.
Just save it or print it.)

As for the crust...
Oh, sure, you can purchase a pre-made pie dough in the refrigerator section of your local grocery. You know the kind I mean, right? Red box. Unroll two layers of dough....There are frozen pie shells in the freezer section, too. But there's a big problem with those pre-made crusts: They're not sweet crusts.
Despite its French pastry roots, this sweet crust is extremely easy to make and really delicious--a tender, sweet, buttery, shortbread-cookie-like moment of bliss. So if you need one (a blissful moment, that is), consider it--and these two final points...

THE TRICK TO ROLLING "PERFECT" PIE DOUGH: I don't know why some cookbooks tell you to roll dough out between pieces of wax paper. I did this on their recommendation, cursing my way to the ultimate solution: Parchment Paper. Wax paper only works if you use flour to prevent sticking--and excess flour will toughen your crust. So take my advice and plop your disc of dough onto a sheet of parchment paper, drop another piece of parchment paper on top, and roll the dough out. Then slip the whole thing onto a cookie sheet, place it in the fridge for a few minutes, and the dough will harden up again. Now you can easily peel away the top layer of parchment paper and transfer the dough to a pie pan.

Blind baking used to freak me out. I thought it would be an extra step and a lot of trouble. It's not. It's incredibly easy, especially if you use this trick: buy flat-bottomed coffee filters. Just drop a paper coffee filter onto the dough, spread 1 cup of dried kidney beans on top of the filter to weight it and bake...(see my recipe for final instructions). Just make sure it's a flat-bottomed coffee filter. The cone shaped coffee filters won't work. (For those of you who don't brew or drink coffee, the shape of the paper filter is dictated by the particular drip coffee maker's basket shape. Look for paper coffee filters in the grocery store aisle where coffees and teas are sold.)
You can't believe I actually got a "coffee" connection in there, can you? Well,'s my recipe for "Pâte Sucrée" aka The "Perfect" Sweet Pie Crust...
"The only real stumbling block is fear of failure.
In cooking you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude."
~Julia Child

To get Cleo's recipe for "Pâte Sucrée"
Sweet Pie or Tart Crust
This recipe will appear in PDF format.
You can save it to your computer or print it out.

If you'd like more of my recipes or would like to find out more about the books in my Coffeehouse Mystery series, then click over to my virtual home at

Eat with joy!

~Cleo Coyle
"Where coffee and crime are always brewing...

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  1. Kudos on your coffee connection, Cleo! LOL! But a very good trick! Coffee filters have so many uses...

  2. CLEO, had to laugh at the coffee connection. I've been putting rice on plastic wrap in my pie shells for years. Never thought of a coffee cone.

    Mystery Lovers' Kitchen

  3. Jessica - Gourmet Girl! Thanks for stopping by. Everyone, Jessica is the author of The Gourmet Girl mysteries. Click her name and check them out.

    Avery - Ah, the coffee connection. I could do a 101 Uses for Coffee Book but who would buy it?! LOL!


  4. Now I have to have pie. I'm thinking a nice chocolate cream pie...yum! Can't wait to use this crust recipe, Cleo!

  5. This sounds wonderful! I just love pie...I'll even eat it for breakfast sometimes. I love the coffee cone tip! That's pure genius.


  6. I've never successfully rolled out a pie crust, Cleo, and I'm going to try your technique soon!

  7. Thanks for stopping by at my blog. I will normally line the pie crust with foil and used beans to bake my crust. Great idea in using the coffee cone.

  8. I've been thinking about baking a blueberry or peach pie before apple season rolls in. I'll have to try this crust. It's gorgeous, Cleo. Competition worthy!

  9. Jenn - Oooooh, chocolate cream pie. Sounds so delishly cool on this hot August day. I hope you'll post your favorite recipe in the near future!

    Elizabeth - On pie. I completely agree. I think they must serve pie in heaven.

    Maryln - I do indeed swear by my "parchment paper and chill" method. Don't forget to slip a cookie sheet under the whole thing and place it in the fridge for a bit before peeling off the paper. It really works! No extra flour needed means a tender, buttery crust. Yum. (Thanks for stopping by and good luck on the drawing!)

    ICook4Fun - OMG. Your food is absolutely gorgeous! Thank you for visiting us today & good luck on our drawing.

    Krista - Woot! Everyone, the Domestic Diva has just givem me a thumbs-up. (Krista is a mystery writer, too. Just click on the last smiling face in the left column to learn more about her Domestic Diva mysteries.)


  10. That strawberry pie looks delicious and I bet the crust is too. I am not a gourmet cook. My first priority on a recipe is that it has to be easy. I have tons of recipes on my site, but they're not all mine. They're from my Bunco group. There's one or two in the group, though, who are gourmet cooks.

    Straight From Hel

  11. Helen - I'm a big fan of your tweets. (Everyone - "MermaidHel" is Helen's Twitter handle and I can highly recommend her as a great follow!) You are so write about a recipe being easy - or at least relatively easy. I respect gourmet cooking and I always learn a lot from the pros, but the most loved and used recipes are the ones we can make and remake by heart. Like the most elegant proofs in mathematics - just because a recipe is more complicated does not necessarily make it a better one. (To put it another way: Brevity is the soul of wit and the home cook's best friend! LOL.) Thanks for stopping by today, Helen!


  12. I can do some cakes and quick-breads but, I am not much of a pastery chef. I'm too sloppy with my cooking and baking has to be close to exact.

    You said there was no perfect pie crust but, I think that the crust should match the filling. Too salty and it doesn't match with a sweet filling, too sweet and it argues with a savory filling.

  13. ThatBrunette - Hi, thanks for dropping in again. You're so right about the pie crust. I tried a non-sweet crust with my fresh strawberry pie and it just was not as good. Really needed the sweet version. Enjoy your weekend!