Pâte sucrée

Pâte sucrée

By
From
Leiths How to Cook
Makes
enough to line a 24 cm flan ring
Photographer
Peter Cassidy

This is an enriched version of shortcrust pastry, with extra butter and egg yolks replacing the water. We use a traditional method of making pâte sucrée by hand, although it can be made in a food processor. It tends to be cooked at a slightly lower temperature than shortcrust because of its high fat and sugar content, as fats and sugars both encourage browning. It should be thoroughly cooked but only to a very pale biscuit colour. Once cooked, it needs to be released from tins or baking trays while still warm, or the pastry will stick.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
250g plain flour
pinch salt
125g unsalted butter, softened
125g caster sugar
4 small egg yolks
2-3 drops vanilla extract

Method

  1. Sift the flour and salt onto a clean work surface and, using the side of your hand, spread the flour out into a large ring.
  2. Place the softened butter, in one piece, in the middle and, using the fingertips of one hand, push down (‘peck’) on the butter to soften it a little more, but without it becoming greasy; it should be soft, but still cold. It is important that the butter is uniformly soft, as if there are still small lumps of cold, hard butter in the mixture they can cause greasiness and holes in the finished pastry.
  3. Sprinkle over the sugar and ‘peck’ until the sugar is just fully incorporated.
  4. Add the egg yolks and vanilla extract and continue to ‘peck’ until the egg yolk is fully incorporated and there is no colour streakiness.
  5. Using a palette knife, flick all the flour onto the butter, sugar and egg yolks and, using the edge of the palette knife, ‘chop’ the flour into the butter and sugar mixture. This technique helps to keep the flour from being overworked. Use the palette knife to lift any flour left on the work surface to the top occasionally.
  6. As you continue to do this, you will create large flakes of pastry. Continue until there are no obvious dry floury bits among the pastry; it should be a fairly uniform colour. Floury patches at this stage will mean having to overwork the pastry at the next stage to incorporate them.
  7. Now shape the pastry into a long sausage and, using the palette knife on its side, scrape a little of the large flakes together at a time. This will finally bring the pastry together and is called ‘fraisering’. As more pastry sticks to the palette knife, scrape it off using a cutlery knife to avoid overworking it. Continue in this manner until all the pastry is fraisered: one or two more fraiserings are possible, but the more you fraiser the more the pastry will be overworked.
  8. Bring the pastry together with your hands to form a ball.
  9. Now shape the pastry into a flat disc. Wrap well in cling film and chill to allow the butter to firm up before rolling out.

Variation

  • Almond pastry (pâte frollée): Replace 100 g of the flour with ground almonds. Increase the butter to 150 g, reduce the sugar to 100 g and use 3 egg yolks (not 4).

Making pâte sucrée in a food processor…

  • Place the softened butter and sugar in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until fully combined. Add the egg yolks and vanilla and pulse again until fully incorporated. Add the flour and salt and pulse quickly until all the flour has been incorporated into the butter, sugar and egg yolk mixture and it has a uniform colour and texture. Remove from the food processor and bring the pastry together in your hands before chilling.
Tags:
Leiths School of food and wine
cookery course
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