Sweet pastry is a basic pastry recipe for making delicious pies and tarts. Buttery, melt-in-your-mouth pastry, not too sweet, this homemade sugar pie crust is always a win when I’m baking a pie.
And the best thing about this tart crust recipe is it’s easily adaptable if you want to change the flavor like adding lemon zest or cinnamon, replacing the ground almonds with ground hazelnuts, or even cocoa powder.
This pastry shell can be used for a baked tart or with no-bake fillings like a vanilla pastry cream.
Also called pate sucree, the sweet pastry is an excellent French recipe used by famous Pastry Chefs. And once you try this sweet pastry crust, you just want to keep it in your repertory and use it again and again for all your pie recipes.Today I’m sharing the recipe with VERY detailed instructions and tips like how to prevent a soggy bottom or why your pie is shrinking. The sweet pastry won’t any longer have any secrets for you.
Ingredients you need:
- Butter: all butter not shortening, unsalted and softened.
- Powdered Sugar: powdered sugar is easily incorporated into the butter, which helps to have a perfect creamy mixture with no grain. Avoid caster / granulated sugar; otherwise, you will still feel the granules in your dough, and these grains could be caramelized when baking, which we want to avoid.
- Ground almonds: sieved to avoid any grainy texture. We use ground almonds to reduce the amount of flour to lower the gluten. Almond allergy: replace the ground almonds with all-purpose flour.
- Salt: enhance the flavor
- Egg: at room temperature, for me, an egg is about 55g (without the shell)
- Vanilla extract: optional; enhance the flavor
- Flour: all-purpose flour, added at the end of the process. It’s important to use flour low in gluten.
How to make a Sweet Pastry Shell?
I use a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment to make this sweet pastry easily, but you can also make it by hand. Start with a spatula, and then use your hands.
To prepare the pate sucree, add the ingredients in the order given. Add the flour at the end. (for info: Once the flour touches the liquid (egg), the gluten development starts.)
- Start to cream the butter until it’s completely soft and spreadable.
- Add the powdered sugar and mix until fully incorporated.
- Add ground almonds and salt, and mix.
- Add the egg and vanilla extract. Mix until incorporated.
- Add the flour and mix. Stop as soon as the flour is incorporated, even if the dough is not completely together. (See picture). Do Not overmix as we want to avoid gluten development.
- Turn the dough out onto a clean surface and bring it together into a ball with your hands. The dough should come together easily. Then, using the palm of your hand, knead the dough slightly and flatten the dough into a 1-inch-thick disc.
- Wrap the dough in wrap film. Chill in the fridge for 30-45 minutes. Don’t skip this step. At this stage, the texture is too soft and sticky to be rolled out immediately, so the dough needs to firm up a little bit. It will also allow for the gluten to relax, which will prevent your sweet pastry from shrinking when baking.
- After chilling, roll the dough into a large disc between two sheets of parchment paper or on a lightly four-dusted surface- 3mm thick (almost 1/8 inch). Avoid adding too much flour; it could change the texture of the dough.
- Grease a tart pan with butter.
- Transfer the dough into the tart pan. Line the tart, and gently press the dough into the edges of the tart tin all the way around. And using your finger, gently press the dough onto the side of the tart. Cut off the excess of the edge with a knife.
Other option: If you use perforated ring tarts, you can cut your tart bottoms out and cut a strip for the side. Place the strip for the side in your tart ring. Press the side into the tart ring and trim the excess.
See photos with the individual tart rings.
- Poke the dough and place the tart shell in the fridge for 2 hours at least (best overnight) or 30-45 minutes in the freezer before baking.
How to bake the Sweet Pastry?
Preheat the oven to 170°C, fan assisted.
Line the tart shell with baking paper, making sure it sits on the side of the dough. Fill with baking beans / ceramic pie weights. Don’t have baking beans? Use dried beans instead.
Blind Baking, which means fully baked before adding any tart filling like chocolate pastry cream
-Bake for 15 minutes. Carefully remove the paper and beans (Be careful, there are very hot), then bake again for 5-7 minutes or until the pastry turn light gold.
Then, seal the pastry crust:
- Prepare an egg-wash with a egg yolk, mixed with 1 tablespoon of heavy cream or milk
- Remove the pastry shell from the oven and let it slightly cool for 5 minutes. Then remove it from the tart pan / ring.
- With a pastry brush, brush the egg wash covering the interior base and the side.
- Bake again for 3-4 minutes until golden (2 minutes for individual tartlets)
- Leave to cool completely before filling with your choice of no-bake filling.
For individual tartlets, 4inch (10cm) diameter, bake for 8 minutes, remove the beans, then bake for 5 to 7 minutes or until light gold. Seal the crust if needed.
Par baked, which means the dough is partially baked before adding the filling.
Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven. Carefully remove the paper and beans (Be careful, there are very hot) and let the pie crust cool slightly before adding your pie filling. Return to the oven for the recommended time as per your recipe instructions.
Tips to succeed in your making the Sweet Pastry
- Ingredients at room temperature.
- Weigh your ingredients for the best results.
- Add the ingredient in the order given. Flour at the end.
- Don’t overwork the dough. In this recipe, we don’t want to develop the gluten opposite as a bread recipe. The less your work the dough, the better are the results.
- Chilling time is not a step to skip. The texture is too soft and sticky to be rolled out immediately after making the dough, so it needs to firm up a little bit. It will also allow for the gluten to relax, which will prevent your sweet pastry from shrinking when baking.
- Roll out the dough between 2 sheets of baking paper to avoid adding flour.
- If it’s a hot day and the sweet pastry becomes too soft when manipulating it, place it in the fridge for 10-15 minutes.
- If you break the dough when pressing it, don’t worry, it’s easy to repair.
- Poke holes in the dough to let the steam escape.
- Freeze the dough for 30-45 minutes before baking, or let it in the fridge for 2 hours at least or overnight for best results. The dough should be cold when ready to go to the oven. Your tart shell is less likely to shrink while baking.
- Use pies weigh to prevent the dough from puffing up unless you have a perforated silicone sheet, and a perforated aluminum sheet pan.
- Seal the pastry crust with egg wash for pies with filling like cream pastry, jam, or even fresh fruits – Instructions above, section How to bake the sweet pastry?
- If you still have irregular edges and you are looking for perfectly straight edges, once the pastry shell is fully cooked and completely cooled, use a zester to file the edges carefully. Be careful, the pastry shell is fragile, and it’s very easy to break it.
Tart Pan: You can use a variety of tart pans with a variety of shapes and sizes: round, rectangular, or oval. Choose a tart pan with fluted edges for a traditional style and a ring tart for a modern style.
Perforated tart rings are my favorite. The heating from your oven is better distributed, and it prevents air bubbles so that the pastry shell won’t lose its shape.
OPTIONAL: Perforated silicone sheet, and perforated aluminum sheet pan. The tart shell will be perfectly baked without bubbling because the steam can escape. You can also skip the pie weights if you have all these materials.
Stand mixer with paddle attachment but not compulsory. It just makes things easier.
Pie weights: It prevents the tart crust from puffing up and losing shape. You can use dry beans. Please don’t eat them after.
Variation to change the flavor of your Sweet Pastry?
The pate sucree can be easily adapted with other flavors:
Hazelnut: replace 25g of ground almond with ground hazelnuts
Chocolate: remove 25g of all-purpose flour and replace it with 25g of cocoa powder.
Cinnamon: add 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon to the flour
Lemon: add Lemon zest or any citrus fruit zest
Frequently Asked Questions
How to prevent a soggy bottom pie crust?
Some filling with a high humidity level like cream pastry, jam, or even fresh fruits can turn your pastry crust into a soggy bottom. So first, make sure your sweet pastry is baked enough.
Then, to avoid a soggy bottom, you need to seal your pastry crust before filling it. Instructions above, section How to make a Sweet Pastry Shell?
How to prevent the pie crust from shrinking?
- Gluten is probably the reason. Gluten is like an elastic band. If you overwork the dough, you create an elastic dough. And guess what, this elastic doesn’t like to be stretched; it will only want to spring back.
- Take your time when you line the sweet pastry into the tart tin. Make sure to fit all the groves. If you miss them, the dough can “slip” when baking.
- The chilling time was insufficient, and the dough was not cold enough. The edges are too soft and collapse with the heat of the oven.
Are pie weights necessary to bake a pastry shell?
If you don’t use a perforated tart ring and perforated silicon sheet, so yes, pie weighs are important. They prevent the pastry from bubbling and losing shape.
Can I make the sweet pastry ahead of time?
You can prepare the dough 4 days in advance. Make sure the dough is wrapped properly with plastic wrap.
The raw dough is best used after 24 hours in the fridge. But you can prepare it and store it in the refrigerator for 4 days. Then, let it sit at room temperature for 30-45 minutes (depending on your room temperature) until it is soft enough to roll out.
How do you make dough even thickness?
A dough with the correct thickness will ensure that your crust will turn out just right. I use a rolling pin with measuring rings. Some people use measuring dough strips.
Can I freeze a pie crust?
Raw dough can be frozen: Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and then place it in a sealed zip lock bag or airtight container. Freeze for up to two months.
To Thaw: Remove the frozen dough from the freezer and thaw in the fridge overnight. Before rolling out, let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes (depending on your room temperature) until it is soft enough to roll out.
Baked pastry shell: once baked and cooled, wrap the dough tightly but carefully (it’s fragile) in plastic wrap and then place it in an airtight container. Freeze for up to one month.
To Thaw: Remove the sweet pastry from the freezer, let it at room temperature for 20-30 minutes and place it in the oven for 5-8 minutes. It will be crispy again. Keep an eye on it as it could turn dark gold very quickly.
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