You might refer to it sweet short pastry, sweet tart crust, sweet shortcrust or simple tart shell. No matter how you prefer to call it, this sweet tart crust recipe it is one of the basics worth mastering as a home baker.
Pâte Sablée is a French sweet pastry dough that is used to make classic French dessert such as a fruit tart, lemon tart, chocolate tart etc. The sweet tart crust recipe contains only a few basic ingredients – like butter, sugar and flour. There are two important factors you have to take into considerations when making Pâte Sablée; 1. understanding and learning the right technique and 2.having the right equipment. If want to master how to make your own tart shell at home continue reading.
Pâte Sablée is a delicious, melt in the mouth pastry shell that turns desserts into fancy French patisserie like goodness no matter where you live in the world!
First let’s start with some important notes regarding the ingredients of this sweet tart crust recipe
- read the recipe carefully
- avoid using substitutes unless aware of how to fully reformulate the recipe in order to keep the balance in texture as well as flavours
- measure your ingredients with the help of a digital kitchen scale
For the tart shell
- Flour: I am using pastry flour for this tart shell recipe, feel free to use AP if can’t find pastry flour in your local supermarket. If you want to be a Pro when it comes to deciding what type of flour to use in your baking, please read my article in here
- Almond: Some Pâte Sablée recipes contain almond, some don’t, I prefer mine with some almond flour in it from taste and texture point of view. It is worth to buy good quality ground almond, without skin
- Sugar: This sweet pastry dough is made with icing sugar. If you want to learn about the different types of sugar and how to use them in baking, please read my article in here
- Salt: An essential ingredient in most of the dessert recipes. Balances flavour and enhances other ingredients. This is a sweet tart dough and I just love that extra very mild salty kick at the end
- Butter: Use always unsalted as you want to be in control of the quantity of the salt. I am using 82% fat content butter in all my recipes. While in most of the recipes butter needs to be on room temperature, this is an exception and you have to take it very seriously. Butter needs to be chilled, which means take the butter out of the fridge, cut into cubes then place it into the freezer for 10-15 minutes before using it.
- Egg: Room temperature as always
As you can see this is a super simple recipe in terms of the ingredients. The secret behind making beautiful, neat and delicious tart crust is all about mastering the technique, understanding how temperature plays in role while working with the dough and using the right equipment.
Now let’s continue with some important notes about the technique of making this sweet tart crust recipe
1. Crumbling method
There are 2 methods in the pastry chefs’ world making tart shell; one is creaming, the other is crumbling. With creaming method the butter is on room temperature and first needs to be creamed with icing sugar. In case of crumbling method, basically you need to rub the mixture between your hands until it becomes a sand like consistency. I am sharing the crumbling method with you in this recipe, which is my preference for one single reason; as the butter used while it’s very cold, overall it makes the dough colder meaning easier to work with. And that brings us to the next important topic:
When I started experimenting with baking, I had several disastrous attempts making tart shell. Now I understand that the one and only reason I failed was me being inpatient and forcing the dough even when its temperature was inappropriate.
Baking is science and in general temperature is one of the most important factors to understand AND utilise for our benefit. When I say temperature I don’t purely mean baking temperature but also the environment we work e.g kitchen temperature as well as the dough temperature.
While making sweet tart crust, temperature is everything! If the dough is too hot, it’s sticky and can’t be rolled out or shaped. If too cold, it will easily break. The entire tart making process is a balancing exercise between keeping the dough cold enough but not too cold.
To give you a concrete example, in a home kitchen environment on a warmer day this practically means taking the dough in and out of the freezer about 15 times in between steps to ensure the dough is always on the right temperature to work with. Yes, not just to chill once or twice but to be in control of the dough temperature all the time! Obviously in professional kitchens temperature as well as humidity is under control and the rolling process is done by a machine, however in home environment this is something we have to be super careful with.
3. Bling baking
Do you know what bling baking is? Baking blind is the process of baking a pie crust without the filling. It’s done by lining the tart tin with parchment paper and filling with baking bean. Frankly, it’s a half solution only and while it certainly prevents the crust from puffing up while it bakes, it does not provide even baking. Blind making makes the tart crust somewhat unappealing, full of wrinkles as I call it and baked uneven. My recipe DOES NOT involve blind baking and that brings us to the next important topic:
Some important notes about the must have baking equipment for this sweet tart crust recipe
Let me get this straight, I am not paid to say the below, I am only talking about my experience after trying a lot of different baking products. You can achieve neat, visually appealing, even golden colour tart crust by using professional baking equipment. Luckily these are available to purchase on Amazon not just for professionals but also for home bakers. If you want to make beautiful, patisserie style tarts it’s worth to invest into a perforated baking mat, a couple of perforated tart rings and a silicon mat. Let’s see their benefits one by one:
1.Perforated baking “air” mat
I have been using Perforated “air” baking mat for more than a year now from a brand called Silikomart and loving it. The air mat is perfect for baking tart crust, éclairs or even cookies. Thanks to the holes in the mat, the heat spreads evenly throughout mats’ surface guaranteeing a perfect and even baking without blind baking. Use the Perforated “air” baking mat on top of the oven rack so that the air can circulate properly.
2. Perforated tart ring
Again, I have been using my Perforated tart ring for over a year and it’s the best investment I have ever made. I can not recommend it enough, it’s really one of those tools you have to invest in once and then will change your baking experience forever. Yes, I am loving it! The Perforated tart rings are non-stick and stainless, they allow homogeneous baking due to the even air circulation. It’s a a genius solution, isn’t it? Silikomart (and some other quality brands) offering the rings in various shapes and sizes, I am using a 8cm (3,14inch) diameter round version. As far as I can see there are several cheap copies of the initial Silikomart product, I am not sure though whether they are made of the same material and whether they work or not.
3. Silicone baking mat
Lastly, I recommend using 2 Silicone baking mat for rolling the dough out in between them. It’s also possible to use parchment paper however the silicone mat provides a much neater, smooth surface. It can be washed and then used all the time so overall worth the investment. I am using the “Amazon basics” cheapest version so no need to buy anything expensive.
Now let´s see the sweet tart crust recipe!
US customary cup measurement is an indicative figure only. Measure the ingredients with a digital scale by weight (gram). Baking is art but also science which requires precision and accuracy.
- Sift together dry ingredients; flour, icing sugar, almond, salt
- Add very cold butter cubes and rub the mixture between your hands until it becomes a sand like consistency
- Add egg into the mixture and mix with your hands just until the dough comes together
- Knead with the palm of your hand for a minute or two (do not over knead and do not use mixer) just until the dough becomes smooth
- If the dough is too warm and sticky, place it into the fridge for 10-15 minutes first. Otherwise continue with rolling the dough out into 2mm thickness between two Silicone baking mat.
- Place the dough into the freezer for 15 min in between the two Silicone baking mat.. Do not remove the mat at this point
- If at any point the dough gets too warm to work with, pop it back into the freezer for 5 minutes. You might need take the dough in and out of the freezer 10-15 times. It is extremely important to work with a dough which is cold enough to be able to handle (so not sticky) but not too cold which would result in breaking it
- Cut 8 long stripes out of the dough, this will be the side of the tart
- Carefully place the stripes into the ring one by one. Press each stripe onto the ring so it sticks to it
- Place the Perforated tart ring with the pastry dough in them into the freezer for 2 hours
- Pre-heat oven to 160C / 320F
- After 2 hours take the pastry dough with the rings on them out and trim them with a sharp knife
- Bake for 18 min then carefully remove the rings and bake for another 5 min until golden brown. Let them cool on the Perforated "air" baking mat