Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Sweet Tart Pastry (Pâte Sucrée)

Sweet Tart Pastry is also known as Pâte Sucrée. This shell is the best holding vessel to showcase your fruit desserts and custard fillings. The texture you'll get compared to pie crusts is finer, almost cookie like. While the filling takes center stage most of the time,  this shell holds its own.  It's very rich and buttery - one tester commented that the tart itself should be equal the amount if not more than the filling itself. Now before reading on, there's a couple of things one must free their minds of:  cholesterol, diets, or fat free. It's not to say I'm against any of these principles,  but there really is no other way to properly make a scrumptious tart without going a little bad. 
There are all sorts of craziness I didn't want to dive into when making this tart shell,  so I honed in on a couple of goals:  tender + crisp + holds its shape.


Butter is the foundation for all these -  you need to keep it cold and you need lots of it. The more fat you have in the dough, the more tender it becomes. The tricky part about butter is it has a relatively quick melting point. Therefore, it's important work the butter into the dough quickly. This is why having a food processor is a time saver - it cuts the butter into the flour quickly before it starts to melt. If you don't have a food processor, you can use a pastry cutter or fork. But because this will prolong the work, I suggest chilling the flour/butter mixture when the butter starts to become too soft.   

Sucre is a word for "sugar." I was already worried by the amount of butter in this recipe, to add sugar seemed too much.  But as it turns out, sugar will help the tart hold its shape without crumbling apart. The sugar also helps make the tart crisp. Chuck the idea of finding "superfine" sugar,  because you are better off with powdered sugar.  Besides being readily available,  you can use powdered sugar in more recipes. The eggs assist in making sure that the crust is sturdier. The additional yolk, gives a depth of richness to the tart that you'll find lacking in regular pie crusts. 
Let it rest -  it's recommended that the dough rest at least 2 hours prior to rolling it out. What happens during this time is that it allows the liquid ingredients to distribute evenly throughout the dough, hydrating it. In addition, the butter in the dough solidifies, making it easier for you to roll out the dough. 
Shrinkage - before I begin to address this, I want to make one thing clear: it is only an issue if your tart shell shrinks significantly. By this, I mean it has shrunk by more than 1/3 of the original size after you've baked it. It's not worth obsessing  over a couple of centimeters, there are way too many things that are out of your control. One thing you do want make sure to do is not stretch out the dough - this will definitely cause major tart shrinkage. I've provided you with more than enough dough in this recipe to ensure it will cover a 9 - 9 1/2 inch tart shell.   If you choose to be obsessive about shrinking -  people have recommended freezing it for at least 30 minutes prior to baking.
I've been working on this post for a while - mainly because I was a little intimidated by making a tart. I feel that I've reached a major milestone, he possibilities seem endless from here on out. 

Sweet Tart Pastry
More than enough for a 9 - 9 1/2 in tart shell. 
 
2 1/2 cups of flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 large egg
1 egg yolk 
16 tbsp butter, cut into mini squares

1 large egg to brush the pastry later

Pastry: Sift flour, sugar and salt together. In a small bowl, beat 1 egg and 1 egg yolk. Using the food processor,  add the flour, egg and butter. Pulse until it resembles a course meal. Transfer the mixture onto a clean surface. Work of a small handful at a time to kneed and into a small dough. Gather all the dough together and knead briefly to form a smooth ball.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface into a 12" round. Ease the dough over the rolling pin and roll it up loosely. Unroll the dough on top of a 9 inch tart pan. Lift the edge of the dough with one hand and ease it into the corners of the pan with the other. Press the dough into the fluted sides of the pan.  Run the rolling pin over the top of the tart pan to remove any excess dough. Prick the crust with a fork. 

Meanwhile, adjust one oven rack to upper-middle position and other rack to lower-middle position; heat oven to 375 degrees. Place chilled tart shell on cookie sheet; press 12-inch square of foil inside tart shell and fill with metal or ceramic pie weights. Bake on lower rack 30 minutes, rotating halfway through baking time. Carefully remove foil and weights by gathering edges of foil and pulling up and out. Transfer cookie sheet with tart shell to upper rack and continue to bake until shell is golden brown, about 5 minutes longer.

*If some edges are too thin, reinforce the sides by folding the dough back on itself. The finished edge should be 1⁄4 inch thick. If it is not, press the dough up over the edge and pinch.


3 comments:

  1. what kind of measurement is 16 tablespoons of butter - why can't you just give it in grams - what a stupid measurement

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for such an informative post and video!

    ReplyDelete
  3. To Anonymous (the first one): 16 tablespoons of butter is the same as 2 sticks of butter, a half pound of butter, or approximately 230 grams of butter. Enjoy.

    ReplyDelete

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