Pâte sablée

Pâte sablée

PS Desserts
1.1 kg
Mark Roper

This French-style shortbread or biscuit pastry, named after sand, is delicate, crumbly and buttery. It is “shorter” than the Pâte sucrée because of its higher butter content, which means it’s a little more difficult to handle. I find this shortbread incredibly moreish to eat, even on its own. I use it as a base for my Panna cotta to add texture and it’s also delicious layered with fruit, such as strawberries and cream, for a classic shortcake.


Quantity Ingredient
400g butter, softened, (see note)
200g caster sugar
1 egg yolk
25ml thickened cream, (35% milk fat)
500g plain flour


  1. Making the dough

    Place the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Work the butter slowly on low speed until smooth.
  2. Add the sugar and mix together on medium speed until combined, taking care not to aerate it too much — you don’t want it pale and fluffy.
  3. Remove the bowl from the electric mixer and add the egg yolk and cream.
  4. Use a wooden spoon to incorporate into the butter mixture.
  5. Sift the flour onto a work surface and make a well in the centre. Scrape the butter mixture in the flour well.
  6. Using the tips of your fingers, work the butter mixture into the flour.
  7. Keep working until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.
  8. Using the heel of your hand, smear the mixture away from you until it looks smooth and no patches of butter remain.
  9. Gather the pastry together with a palette knife or scraper to form a log (the diameter of the log will depend on how big you want your shortbread to be).
  10. Wrap the log in plastic wrap. You will need to refrigerate for at least 2 hours to firm up, due to the high butter content.
  11. To bake

    Preheat the oven to 160ºC. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
  12. Remove the pastry from the fridge. Remove the plastic wrap and cut the log into 7 mm thick slices. Place the slices on a work surface lightly dusted with flour.Working with one slice at time, gently tap each slice with a rolling pin to soften the pastry, then roll out to a thickness of 3 mm.
  13. Using a pastry cutter, cut out each slice to your desired size or shape. Slide a small kitchen knife under the pastry to dislodge the pastry from the surface.
  14. Using the knife, carefully transfer the pastry disc onto the prepared tray. Remember this pastry is extremely fragile, so handle very gently. If the pastry breaks, just gently press the pieces back together. Don’t reroll the scraps.
  15. Bake for 7 minutes or until just lightly golden around the edges. The tops should not be dark — think “shortbread” in colour.


  • This pastry keeps well in the freezer for up to 1 month — just slice off the portion you need and thaw in the fridge overnight before using.


  • It’s very important to not overwork the dough to ensure it remains tender and crumbly.


  • I like to freeze the scraps, then break the frozen dough into pieces to use as a crumble topping.

    These biscuits taste best fresh but will keep for several days in a sealed container.

Notes on butter for pastry

  • My colleagues, family and friends can attest to my obsession with butter. Butter is made from cream, right? Cream is white not daffodil yellow. Butter is a fresh food and should look and smell as such. It should have a faint, creamy, slightly sweet smell. If it is rancid, yellow and sour, I don’t use it.


    Always check the use-by date on the pack and only use unsalted butter for pastry and baking.


    It’s important your butter is at a workable temperature when making pastry. None of my pastry recipes uses cold butter straight from the fridge. “Room temperature” butter is a tricky definition as it depends on the room.
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