Sweet Shortcrust Pastry

Pâté Brisée

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Makes

    1

    quantity

Appears in

Bourke Street Bakery

By Paul Allam and David McGuinness

Published 2009

  • About

The following recipe for sweet shortcrust pastry will leave you with a slightly uneven edge around the rim of the tin when you line it, resulting in a tart that looks rustic and homemade, which is what we aim for at Bourke Street Bakery. If you are looking for a perfectly even effect, this is not the correct recipe to use. The fact that this dough has water in it means it will shrink as the water evaporates during baking; the following method is to help counteract this shrinkage. If you are looking for a perfect result, use the Sweet Pastry (Pâté Sablée) recipe, but keep in mind that it is a far more fragile dough than this one.

This recipe makes enough pastry for twenty 8 cm ( inch) tarts with a little left-over. The number of tarts is going to vary from baker to baker depending on how thin the pastry is rolled. The pastry can be frozen for up to 2 months, so it makes sense to line all the shells, freeze them and simply blind bake them as you need them.

Ingredients

  • 400 g (14 oz) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1.5 cm (⅝ inch) cubes
  • 20 ml (½ fl oz/1 tablespoon) vinegar, chilled
  • 100 g ( oz) caster (superfine) sugar, chilled
  • 170 ml ( fl oz/ cup) water, chilled
  • 665 g (1 lb oz) plain (all-purpose) flour, chilled
  • 5 g ( oz/1 teaspoon) salt

Method

Remove the butter from the refrigerator 20 minutes before you start mixing — the butter should be just soft but still very cold so it doesn’t melt through the pastry while mixing.

Put the vinegar and sugar in a bowl and add the water, stirring well. Set aside for 10 minutes, then stir again to completely dissolve the sugar.

If you are mixing the dough by hand, mix together the flour and salt in a large bowl and toss through the butter. Use your fingertips to rub the butter into the flour to partly combine.

If you are using a food processor, put the flour and salt in the bowl of the food processor and add the butter, pulsing in 1-second bursts about three or four times to partly combine

You should now have a floury mix through which you can see squashed pieces of butter. Turn out onto a clean work surface and gather together. Sprinkle over the sugar mixture and use the palm of your hand to smear this mixture away from you across the work surface (a pastry scraper is a useful tool to use for this step). Gather together again and repeat this smearing process twice more before gathering the dough again. You may need to smear once or twice more to bring it together — you should still be able to see streaks of butter marbled through the pastry; this gives a slightly flaky texture to the final product. Divide the dough into two even-sized portions and shape into two round, flat discs about 2 cm (¾ inch) thick. Wrap each disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Remove the pastry from the refrigerator 20 minutes before you wish to roll it. Sprinkle a little flour on the bench and rub a little flour over a rolling pin. Working from the centre of the pastry, gently roll the dough away from you, then turn the dough about 30 degrees and roll out again. Repeat this process until you have a flat round disc, about 3 mm ( inch) thick. Sprinkle extra flour over the bench and rolling pin as needed, but try to use it as sparingly as possible — if too much is absorbed into the pastry it will result in a dough with poor flavour and texture. Bear in mind that you are trying to flatten the pastry into a disc, not ferociously stretch it out in all directions. Stretching will only cause the pastry to shrink excessively when baking. Transfer the pastry to a tray and place in the refrigerator, covered in plastic wrap, for at least 2 hours to allow the gluten to relax.

At Bourke Street Bakery, we prefer to use loose-based tart tins and moulds, which have sides that are at an angle of about 90 degrees to the base. The right angle offers more support than sloping sides and makes it easier to remove a fragile tart. Again, it is important not to stretch the dough when lining the tins.

Brush twenty 8 cm ( inch) individual tart tins with a little butter. Cut the pastry using a round pastry cutter with an 11 cm ( inch) diameter. Place the pastry on top of the mould ensuring it is in the centre and use your fingers to gently push the pastry into the mould, moving around the rim until all of the pastry has been inserted — you should now have about 1 cm (½ inch) of dough hanging over the sides. Use your index finger and thumb to work your way around the edge, forcing the pastry into the mould so that little or no pastry is left protruding. Where the upright edge of the pastry meets the base there should be a sharp angle where it has been firmly forced into the corner — this method of lining the tin is to counteract the pastry shrinking once baked. Set the pastry cases aside to rest for at least 20 minutes in the freezer so that the gluten relaxes and holds its shape when you line it with foil.

Once the tart has been lined and rested, most recipes will call for it to be blind baked. Blind baking pastry simply means you need to pre-bake the pastry before filling it, to ensure the base is crisp and cooked through. If you own a pizza stone this will work perfectly, as long as it is heated well and the pastry tin is placed directly on the stone.

Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F/Gas 6). Line the pastry with a double layer of aluminium foil, making sure the foil is pushed well into the corners. Pour in some baking beads or uncooked rice to fill the case and bake for 20–25 minutes — the baking time will vary considerably from oven to oven. When cooked properly, the pastry should have a golden colour all over, particularly in the centre, which tends to be the last part to colour and become crisp. The tart shells are now ready to be filled.

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