More formally known as pâte brisée, this workhorse crust is relatively easy to manage and bakes up wonderfully flaky. It is the ideal choice for homemade pop-tarts, but pairs perfectly with almost any filling in this book.
Cut the butter into ½-inch (12-mm) cubes, and freeze them while you measure and mix the dry ingredients.
To make the dough in a food processor: Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in the processor and pulse 3 or 4 times to mix. Retrieve the butter cubes from the freezer, scatter them over the flour mixture, and pulse until the mixture forms pea-size clumps. Add the ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse to mix, adding just enough water for the dough to come together.
To make the dough by hand: In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt. Retrieve the butter cubes from the freezer and distribute them evenly in the flour mixture, coating them with the flour mixture. Sink your fingers into the mixture and begin pinching the butter and flour together, making thin, floury disks of the butter. Continue working the mixture until the butter is broken down first into floury pea-sized beads and then into a loose mixture that resembles wet sand. Drizzle in 3 tablespoons of the ice water and use your hand like a comb to mix in the liquid just until the dough holds together. If necessary, add additional water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough comes together in a crumbly mass.
Alternatively, if using a pastry blender, whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Scatter the butter evenly over the flour mixture, and stir to coat with the flour mixture. Using a swift, downward motion, cut the butter into the dry ingredients, turning the bowl and then plunging the cutter into the mixture repeatedly. You may need to stop occasionally to slip chunks of butter from the blades back into the flour. Continue cutting until the mixture resembles wet sand. Drizzle in 3 tablespoons of the water and use a fork or your fingers to mix in the liquid just until the dough holds together. If necessary, add additional water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough comes together in a crumbly mass.
Turn the dough out onto a clean, floured work surface or sheet of parchment paper. Gather the dough together in a mound, then knead it a few times to smooth it out. Divide it in ½, and gently pat and press each half into a rough rectangle, circle, or square about 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick. The shape you choose depends on what shape you will be rolling out the dough. If you don’t know how you will be using the dough at this point, opt for a circle. Wrap in plastic wrap or in the parchment paper and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 3 days.