Sweet tart dough (or pâte sablée) is, as its name may suggest, a type of dough that is originally French. It has a distinguishing delicate, tender, buttery and sandy texture (which is precisely what sablée means in French). This is the ideal pastry dough to use when making fruit tarts or tartlets, or filling with lemon curd, pastry cream or chocolate cream.
So it seems rather obvious that it will come in very handy to have some available whenever possible. However, one may feel somewhat intimidated by the idea of making their own homemade pastry dough for the first time right off the bat. But then there’s always a first time for everything. There is no denying that homemade pastry dough is far better than the store-bought version, so why not give it a try? Perhaps, handling this dough after being rolled out might be the trickiest part, as it tends to break and crumble easily. But it fixes as easily as it breaks, so, after that first experience, we will both be surprised and eager to find out that it is just a question of practice (and practice makes perfect), and that it was not such an unachievable task at all.
- 1½ cups (200 g) all-purpose flour (plus extra for dusting)
- ½ cup (55 g) confectioner’s or icing sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon (125 g) unsalted butter, cold (even frozen), cut into small dice
- 1 egg yolk (L), beaten
- Sift flour, confectioner’s sugar and salt together in a large bowl and mix well with a whisk until totally combined.
- Add diced, cold butter and mix with a pastry blender (two knives or even your fingertips) until butter is just coated with the dry ingredients. We will get a lot of a sandy, crumbly texture. Try not to over mix so that the mixture does not get warm and gluten does not develop, which would mean a tougher, more elastic and less flaky type of dough.
- Add the egg yolk gradually while mixing as before (see point 2). Once more, mix just until combined.
- Shape the dough into a ball with your hands (any flour remaining would stick to dough easily with the warmth of your hand). If the dough is still firm and cool, lightly butter a 10-inch / 25 cm Ø round fluted tart pan (preferably with a removable bottom) and skip to point 7. If the atmosphere is somewhat warm or the dough had been extra manipulated, cover in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for about 1 hour.
- If the dough is refrigerating, meanwhile lightly butter a 10-inch / 25 cm Ø round fluted tart pan (preferably with a removable bottom) and set aside.
- Once our dough is cold and firm enough, remove it from the fridge and let it sit on the counter for 5-10 minutes.
- Take a little piece of dough, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate (a walnut-size piece of dough will be enough). Lightly flatten the remaining ball of dough with the palm of your hand and either:
- Place the dough in the middle of the buttered pan and spread with your hand until covering both bottom and sides of the pan, smoothing the surface as much as possible about ½-inch / 0,5 cm thick.
- You could also roll it out with a floured rolling pin on a lightly floured work surface, always working from the center to the edges of the dough, into a rough circle about 12-inch / 30 cm Ø and ¼-inch / 0,5 cm thick. As this type of dough tends to fall apart easily, it’s helpful if you place it between two pieces of parchment or wax paper while rolling it. If you are working directly on the counter, turn the dough over frequently, and keep the counter floured. In order to transfer it on to the pan easily, wrap or drape it in half around the rolling pin and gently unroll it over the pan. Press the dough evenly but gently into the pan, bottom and fluted sides, but try not to be too heavy-handed or you’ll end up with a tough crust (not flaky at all, as it is supposed to be), allowing about 1-inch / 2,5 cm to overhang.
- Now it’s time to patch any cracks or holes with the spare piece of dough you kept in the fridge before. Trim away the excess dough around the edges (you can just roll the rolling pin against the rim of the pan), but do not throw away any dough scraps. Wrap them in plastic wrap and keep them in the fridge (or even in the freezer) in case you need them later.
- If the crust needs to be partially baked or even fully baked before adding the filling, preheat oven (electric) to 375º F / 190ºC and place the oven rack in the middle (or ⅓ from bottom) position. Then, follow either of the following steps:
- Cover the tart pan with plastic wrap and put it in the freezer for at least 30 minutes (even more if possible). After this, butter a piece of foil on the shinny side and fit it snugly against the bottom and sides of the dough, allowing the foil to overhang (since the dough is frozen, there’s no need to use any pie weights).
- Cover the tart pan with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator for 10-20 minutes, depending on the room temperature (the warmer, the longer it will take). After this, repeatedly prick the bottom of the crust with a fork and cover snugly with some parchment or wax paper (if you previously crumbled the paper, it will adapt to the pan more easily). Now pour some pie weights up to the rim of the pan (you can also use some legumes, such as chickpeas, rice, beans, etc. instead).
- Place the tart crust on a baking sheet and bake it for 20 minutes (for partially baked crusts) or 30 minutes (for fully baked crusts).
- Remove from oven and let it cool in the pan on a cooling rackwithout either the foil or the paper and weights. If the crust has puffed a little, press it down gently with the back of a spoon.
- National (USA) pastry day: December 9th
Recipe adapted from Baking, From my home to yours, Doriee Greenspan