This pâte sucrée recipe, also known as a shortcrust pastry, is the perfect base for any dessert tart that you want to make. This dough is sweet, buttery, and, best of all, won’t shrink when it bakes!
Pâte Sucrée Recipe
Pâte sucrée is the go-to pastry dough for creating French dessert tarts. To create this sweet French pastry dough, you’ll need some flour, powdered sugar, cold butter, an egg yolk and cold water.
I typically use a food processor to blend all my ingredients together, making it incredibly easy and hassle-free to mold the ingredients into a compact dough that can be handled.
Pâte Brisée vs. Pâte Sucrée
If you’ve browsed through a French cookbook or two, you may have seen the term pâte brisée thrown around as well. It’s very similar to pâte sucrée, but different enough to earn its own name.
The French, however, believe there should be a difference in the types of pastry dough used for sweet and savory tarts, and a pâte brisée dough is typically reserved for savory tarts while the sweeter pâte sucrée is reserved for dessert tarts.
Pâte Sablée vs. Pâte Sucrée
If you weren’t confused enough, then this ought to do it — pâte sablée. I know, I know…how many pastry doughs do the French need?
A lot apparently because there are a few more pastry doughs I haven’t even mentioned, but for the sake of briefly breaking down the most common ones, I’m just going to clarify one last dough, pâte sablée.
This French pastry dough is typically not as sweet as pâte sucrée nor is it as smooth, for lack of a better word, as a pâte brisée. In fact, this French dough is specifically made to have a “sandier” or grittier texture on the palate, often through the addition of almond meal and/or more eggs.
The name is derived from the French word “le sable” which means sand. Remember those French butter cookies I shared here? Same concept.
Tips for Making a Pâte Sucrée
In general, pastry dough for tarts can be a finicky thing. I have found recipes for French tart dough that advise you to refrigerate every ingredient for your pastry dough, including the flour.
I have found recipes that warn you not to press your tart dough into your tart pan but to gently place the dough into the pan and very carefully lay it flat against the edges.
I’ve tried a lot of different techniques and adhered to a lot of different pastry-making rules to ensure that my pastry doesn’t shrink while it bakes in the oven, which is a sad, sad thing.
All that butter and careful precision gone to waste.
But I finally found a recipe that worked for me and is pretty fuss-free. There are just two simple tips I follow for making pâte sucrée that holds up beautifully when it bakes:
- Use a kitchen scale. You hear pastry chefs tell you this all the time, and honestly, it’s not always necessary except for in a select handful of recipes (i.e. macarons or this tart dough). In the case of this French tart dough, I find that precision is necessary so that you don’t end up with too much butter or too much sugar, for example, which can affect how your pastry bakes. I use this scale, for reference.
- Freeze your dough. This is the big secret for preventing shrinkage as your pastry bakes. Once you’ve created a pastry dough with your food processor, simply use your hands to mold the dough into a compact ball. Then, place the dough into your tart pan and use your fingers to press it flat in the bottom of the pan and up against the fluted edges. Pop the pan into the freezer for 30 minutes and voila, frozen tart dough.
You can use this pâte sucrée recipe for delicate fruit tarts or, my favorite, tarte au citron (a French lemon tart). The possibilities are endless!
Pâte Sucrée Recipe
A sweet shortcrust pastry dough perfect for any dessert tart.
- 6 oz. all-purpose flour (175 grams)
- 3.5 oz. cold unsalted butter (100 grams) cut into cubes, plus more for greasing the tart pan
- 1 oz. icing sugar (25 grams)
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tbsp cold water
To a food processor, add the flour, unsalted butter, and icing sugar. Pulse until you get a crumbled mixture similar to bread crumbs.
Add the egg yolk and cold water, then pulse until the mixture resembles a dough and pulls away from the sides of the food processor bowl.
Briefly microwave a tablespoon of unsalted butter in the microwave for about 10 to 15 seconds, just until the butter has softened but hasn't melted. Use a pastry brush to brush this softened butter all over the inside of a 9" removable-bottom tart pan.
Grab the pastry dough out of the food processor bowl and use your hands to quickly shape the dough into a compact ball. Transfer the dough to your greased tart pan and use your fingers to press the dough flat against the bottom and sides of the tart pan. Alternatively, you can roll the tart dough out a bit first using a rolling pin, then transfer the dough to your pan and use your fingers to finish molding the dough inside the tart pan.
Grab a rolling pin and slide it across the top of the tart pan to trim off excess dough from the top edges of the pan. Use a fork to prick the dough all over the bottom of the pan. Place the tart pan in the freezer to chill for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Once the oven is ready, place a sheet of parchment paper on the inside of the tart pan and pour dried beans or pie weights into the parchment paper. Blind-bake the pastry dough for 12 minutes. Remove the parchment paper and weights, then continue baking for another 12 minutes, until the dough is slightly golden and baked throughout. Proceed however your particular dessert recipe instructs.
adapted from bbc.com