Sunday, 4 August 2013

Basic Recipe | Pâte sablée

This is my favourite type of pastry for summer fruit tarts or for frangipane ones. Rich but without being too sweet, it has a delicate yet crisp, crumbly texture that can only be properly appreciated once tasted. Because of its delicate texture, it needs to handled very carefully when baking but the positive aspect is that you don't have to worry about keeping ingredients sufficiently cold, or about shrinkage, or even about undercooking.

~ Pâte sablée ~

Will Torrent in his elegant Pâtisserie at Home suggests fragrancing the pastry with the scraped seeds of a vanilla bean added into the creamed butter mixture.

For a 23cm tart tin:
200 g plain flour
pinch of salt
25 g icing sugar
105 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 small egg yolk
1/8 tsp vanilla extract
finely grated zest of 1 lemon (optional)

For a 21cm tart tin:
175 g plain flour
pinch of salt
20 g icing sugar
90 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 small egg yolk
1/8 tsp vanilla extract
finely grated zest of 1 lemon (optional)
Sieve the flour and whisk in the salt. You could also substitute 30 g finely ground almonds or hazelnuts or perhaps other ground nuts of your choice for a crunchier texture.

With a wooden spoon beat the butter lightly for about a minute until softened. Add the sugar and beat just until blended. Add the grated zest (if using) and beat again. Stir in the egg yolk until incorporated.

Gradually mix in the sieved flour and salt in three additions until incorporated and it starts to come together. Take the dough pieces out of the bowl onto a large piece of clingfilm. Shape into a ball, flatten into a disc of the same width as the tart tin, and wrap with some cling film. Place the dough in a tart tin with a removable bottom and refrigerate for about 30 minutes to firm up.

Take the dough out of the fridge and lightly butter the tart tin. This pastry is like shortbread and has the tendency to tear and crack when you roll it out, which makes it almost impossible to transfer to the tin intact. When the dough has chilled sufficiently, remove it from the clingfilm and transfer to the buttered tin. With the tips of your fingers pat it evenly up the sides and over the bottom of the tin to get a fairly thin crust. You can use the back of a spoon to smooth the surface. Trim off any excess pastry and set aside to patch any cracks later on.

Lightly prick the bottom of the pastry case with a fork (this prevents it from puffing up as it bakes), cover with the clingfilm and put it back in the fridge for another 30 minutes.

To bake blind, heat the oven to 185 C and place the rack near the bottom of the oven.

Place the tart tin on a larger baking pan. Loosely cover the edges with strips of foil, cover the tart with a large sheet of cringed baking paper (cringing the paper ensures it stays in place) and fill with dried beans.

Bake for 12-15 minutes. Then remove the beans and baking paper, but keep the edges covered with foil (the edges always cook sooner than the rest of the pastry; this will prevent them from overcooking). Bake for a further 6-8 minutes or until the pastry is slightly firm, dry and lightly golden.

Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack. While still hot, seal the crust with a little beaten egg white. Alternatively, allow the pastry to cool completely before sealing it with sieved apricot or another fruit glaze.

Use as directed by recipe.

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