A Sweet Pastry Crust, also known as Pate Sucree,
is a rich and sweet pastry with a crisp cookie-like texture. Once made, this pastry can be stored
in the refrigerator for several days. You might also want to make an extra batch
and pop it into the deep freeze, as it freezes so well. That way, when the urge
hits, you can produce a quick dessert with very little effort. This Sweet
Pastry Crust is ideal for making both large and small sized
tarts, especially those filled with fruit and/or cream.
A Sweet Pastry Crust adds a little more sugar and an egg to your basic
Pie Crust recipe. This gives the pastry a sweeter flavor
and a softer texture. While it can be made in a
food processor, I prefer to use an electric mixer, like I
would a regular cookie dough. That is, beat the butter and sugar, then add
the egg, and then mix in the flour. Then simply wrap the pastry in plastic
wrap and refrigerate it just until it is firm (about 30 minutes in the
refrigerator, 10-15 minutes in the freezer). I know pastry is normally
rolled, but this pastry has the tendency to tear and crack, both when you
roll it out and transfer it to the tart pan. While you can simply patch
the tears, lately I have found it easier to just pat the pastry in an even layer over
the bottom and up the sides of the pan. But first butter and
flour the tart pan or spray it with one of those vegetable/flour cooking
spray as this makes it easier to remove the sides and bottom of the
tart pan once it is baked.
More often than not, this Sweet Pastry Crust is prebaked. Common
practice is to line and fill the unbaked pastry crust with pie weights or rice
before baking to prevent the pastry from shrinking and puffing up. But you
can eliminate this step by putting the unbaked pastry crust in the
freezer for 15 minutes. This sets the crust which prevents these problems. I do like to gently prick the bottom of the pastry
before baking which also prevents the pastry from puffing up.
Now, the pastry is baked at a high temperature for five minutes to set the
crust and then the oven temperature is lowered and the pastry is baked
until firm, dry, and lightly golden brown. Once
the pastry shell has been baked, it is a good idea to 'seal' the crust.
This 'sealing' prevents the tart filling from softening the crust over time.
You can do this immediately by brushing the still warm crust with a little
beaten egg white. Or you can spread a
thin layer of warmed apricot glaze, or even melted chocolate, over the pastry once it has completely
cooled. The unfilled baked pastry crust can be covered and stored for a
few days before filling.
Sweet Pastry Crust:
In a separate bowl, whisk the flour with the salt. Place the butter in the
bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, and beat until softened. Add sugar and beat
until light and fluffy. Gradually add the beaten egg, beating just until
incorporated. Add the flour mixture all at once and mix just until it forms a ball. Flatten the pastry into a disk,
cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 15-30 minutes or just until firm
(can place in freezer for about 10-15 minutes.)
Lightly butter and flour, or spray with a non-stick vegetable/flour cooking
spray, an 8 - 9 inch (20 - 23 cm) tart pan with a removable bottom. Once
the pastry has chilled sufficiently, evenly pat onto the bottom and up the sides of the
tart pan. Cover with
plastic wrap and place in the freezer for about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F
(205 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Lightly prick bottom of pastry
crust with the tines of a fork (this will prevent the dough from puffing up as
it bakes). Place tart pan on a larger baking pan and bake crust for 5 minutes.
Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and continue to bake
the crust for about 15 minutes
or until crust is dry and lightly golden brown. Remove from oven and place
on a wire rack to cool. If desired, seal the crust with an egg white glaze or
apricot glaze. Can be covered and stored for a few days.
Egg White Glaze:
Let the crust cool for about
3-5 minutes. Then lightly beat one egg white and brush onto the bottom and sides
of the warm pastry crust.
Heat 1/4 cup (60 ml) apricot jam or preserves in the microwave, or in a
small saucepan over medium heat, until liquid (melted). Strain the jam
through a fine strainer to remove any fruit lumps. Brush the warm glaze onto the
bottom and sides of cooled pastry crust.
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