Pâte sucrée is a classic french pastry, similar to pâte brisée, except that instead of using water to bind it together, we use egg yolks; enriching the dough further.
When made well it has the crumbly melt in the mouth texture of shortbread biscuit, but provides the support for the heaviest of fillings without falling apart. Endlessly adaptable, it can be used for any shaped tin, circle, square, rectangle; big enough to share or in little individual tins. Providing a wide variety of bases for fruits, custards, and baked fillings in order to make all sorts of tarts.
Whether you are a baking aficionado or taking your first step into the world of desserts, you need pâte sucrée in your arsenal.
— Al Brady
75g caster sugar
100g butter, chilled and cubed
3 egg yolks
1 lemon, zested
Sift the flour into a bowl, add the sugar, butter and lemon zest. Using the fingertips rub the butter into the flour and sugar and continue rubbing together until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
Add the egg yolks to the bowl and lightly blend into the flour and butter mixture. Keeping your hands high, use your fingertips to continue to rub the egg yolks into the flour mixture until the mixture starts to come together to form a ball of dough. Lightly knead the pastry into a smooth ball, wrap the dough tightly in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for an hour.
Once the pastry has chilled, remove from the fridge and place on a lightly floured board. Roll the dough gently in one direction, rotate the dough 45 degrees, and roll again. Continue to repeat this process, lightly flouring the board and pastry as necessary to prevent the pastry from sticking, until the dough is about 3mm thick.
Check that your pastry has been rolled large enough to come up the sides the tin you are using. Roll up the pastry on to the rolling pin to lift it up and gently unroll over the top of the pastry case, being careful not to touch the tin with the rolling pin or you will cut through the dough. Gently ease the pastry into the base of the tin, lifting the edges to avoid tearing, and press the pastry firmly into the sides of the tin.
Remove the excess pastry by rolling over the top of the tin with the rolling pin, cutting off any pastry hanging over the edges. Prick the base of the pastry case with a fork, to allow air to escape during cooking: keeping the base flat, and chill the pastry case, uncovered for 30 mins. You can leave the pastry like this for up to 24 hours, making sure to cover the pastry with cling film after 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 190ºC. Line the pastry case with greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans and bake blind for about 15 minutes. Remove the baking beans and the paper and return to the oven to dry out the pastry case, until a light golden brown colour. Put the tin on a wire rack until read to use.
Now you have yourself a beautiful, melt in the mouth sweet shortcrust pastry case, ready to be filled with all sorts of tasty morsels! A fresh fruit tart with creme patissiere, lemon meringue pie, baked chocolate tart, egg custard tart, or a delicious cherry Bakewell, to name just a few. The possibilities are endless, so why not get your first lot of pastry made and start ticking a few of them off the list.
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When it comes to pastry, don't expect to be a master overnight! Practice makes perfect!
So we have a few tips to help you on your way to ultimate pastry proficiency!
KEEP YOUR HANDS HIGH
When rubbing the fat and yolks into the pastry keep your hands high out of the bowl, in order to keep the pastry cool. If you keep your hands in the bowl, the heat from your hands will warm up the pastry mix, causing the fat to melt, resulting in an oily dough that's difficult to work with.
DON'T FORCE IT
Don’t force the dough together too soon. Continue to rub the pastry with your fingertips until the dough starts to come together. If you force the dough together while still in a breadcrumb like state then the end result will be a crumbly dry pastry, almost impossible to roll.
Avoid over-working the dough. More mixing than necessary will cause the gluten to develop, making the dough difficult to work with and producing a tough crust.
Roll the dough gently and gradually, ensuring an even thickness so the pastry cooks evenly. Flour and turn the pastry as necessary in order to prevent the pastry sticking.
Chill the pastry thoroughly after forming the dough and shaping the dough. This will help combat the shrinking effect that occurs when the pastry is cooked. It will also set the butter in the dough properly preventing it from melting out when being put in the oven.