Sweet Shortcrust Pastry or Pate Sucree is an enriched dough and the pasty of choice for sweet flans and tarts. How enriched, how sweet and how short all seem to be a matter for debate. At the end of the day, much of this is down to personal choice.
I’ve stuck to some basic principles here, starting with a 2:1 ratio of flour to fat. I want this pastry to be suitably different from ‘normal’ shortcrust, but it still needs to be workable. All butter and one egg yolk does the trick for me, making a rich pastry which is nice and short. I’ve used a whole egg in the past (reducing the amount of cold water needed), and this is fine but adding extra yolks is a bit over the top and tends to lead to a dough which is just too sticky.
Another variable is the amount of sugar. I’m using 25g, about 2 level tablespoons, and I’m using castor sugar which helps the texture, rather than using icing sugar. This is sweet enough for me and good for most recipes. That said, I’ve see equivalent recipes with 4-5 times as much sugar in. Extra sugar will impact the ability of the pastry to hold together once cooked and will have a greater tendency to burn. In the current climate with threats of sugar taxes, I think this amount is just right.
Optionally you can add flavourings to the mix such as a little vanilla extract or the grated zest of an orange if that is going to work with your filling.
You’ll note I don’t add salt to my pastry – this is because I always use salted butter
Making recipes with sweet shortcrust pastry can be quite time consuming. I use a food processor and can have the pastry in the fridge in 5 minutes but you can make by hand, rubbing the butter into the flour. Generally this pastry will need 2 lots of chilling (once when the dough has been made and then once the tin has been lined), and 2 lots of cooking (almost always baked blind, then cooking with their filling. As this pastry freezes well, it’s worth making up a double batch, wrapping half in clingfilm and freezing until needed
Tip: To keep the pastry crisp, after baking blind remove the baking beans and brush with a light glaze of beaten egg. Return to the oven for 1 minute to set and seal, then continue with your recipe
Makes about 475g Pastry, enough for a large flan, or a 21cm flan tin and a dozen jam tarts
- 250g Plain Flour
- 125g Butter, cubed
- 25g Castor Sugar
- 1 Egg Yolk
- Cold Water
- ½ tsp Vanilla Extract (optional)
- Add the flour, butter and sugar to a food processor and pulse for a couple of seconds
- Add the egg yolk (and any flavourings) and pulse again until mixed
- Run the processor and add cold water a spoon at a time, leaving a few seconds for the mixture to come together
- Soon it will form into a smooth ball – tip onto a lightly floured surface and flatten into a round
- Wrap in clingfilm and chill until needed or freeze