Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Pâte Sucrée (Sweet Shortcrust Pastry)

I don't own many cookbooks. Maybe 15. And at least 3 of them are in Canada. I really prefer looking at recipes online and seeing people's reactions to them so I have some idea whether I'm making 'da bomb' or just 'a bomb'. And as libraries are pretty poor here, unfortunately borrowing them first isn't an option. So when I actually decide to buy a cookbook its a careful choice for me. There are a lot of boxes it needs to tick before I part with my cash. A few are 1) clear directions; 2) great pictures 3) good variety of recipes; 4) recipes that I will actually try; 5) recommended  by others (amazon is so good for that). Those are the first few things I look for.

I can't tell you where I first saw this book but it had some fantastic reviews. And looked pretty neat. It looked like a course, like it had lots of tips and was essentially a collection of lessons on how to prepare precise pastries. Looked like a good starting point for me. So I ordered it. And I'm really glad I did. I am finding it really useful and it has tutorials of many of the recipes. For each recipe there is a tips section at the end to give you a heads up on some potential problem areas, as well as a few notes on how to evaluate your success.

Although I've had the book for nearly a year, I hadn't tried a single recipe out of it. To be honest, I was a little intimidated. It all looks so precise and so snazzy and ... well ... a whole lot fancier than I was able to do. I'm not trained in the culinary arts for crying out loud! I just wanted to look at the pretty pictures and dream I could do it ...

But I joined Daring Bakers and I had a challenge. I had to make Florentines. There was a recipe for Florentines in my fancy-scary-amazing book. So I broke down the wall of fear and got into it. The recipe for the finished biscuit is here, so I'm just going to give you the Pâte Sucrée in this post.

Sound good?

Pâte Sucrée (from The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Pastry Arts)

Makes pastry for two 8- to 9-inch tarts

250 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
125 grams confectioners' sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
500 grams cake flour
1/2 tsp baking powder

Place the butter and sugar in a bowl. Beat to just combine, then raise the speed and beat until the mixture is light and creamy.
Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition (do not add them too quickly or the mixture will separate. If separation occurs, continue the mixing until the mixture comes together. If it doesn't, add a spoonful of flour to encourage the process)

This is after adding the last egg. It looked like this after each addition.

 When the eggs are well incorporated, turn off the motor. Add the flour and baking powder all at once. Turn the machine on to slow speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, beat until the flour is just incorporated, being careful not to overmix. 
Using the spatula, scrape the dough from the bowl. Gather the dough together and form it into a disk. Wrap the disk in plastic film and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes of up to 1 week before rolling it into the shape required. The dough may also be wrapped and frozen for up to 3 months.

I rolled it out a quarter of this to make my Florentines and blind baked it.

To blind bake, dock the rolled dough with a fork. Line the dough with parchment paper and fill with dry rice or beans (I used pinto beans). Place it in a 400F oven and cook until it looks chalky-white. This helps the pastry retain its shape.

And there we go! Easy-peasy!

So what is your favorite thing to do with blind-baked pastry?


Jenn x


  1. I have to admit I LOVE making pastry and it really is nothing for me to whip up a batch! I think my favourite go-to filling would be lemon curd.
    Your pastry looks great and i'm still thinking about how nice those florentines looked :)

  2. I love making my own pastry too! I remember the first time I did it-I was elated that it worked out! But great idea to go to a book as there are so many tips and tricks! :D