This classic French Pastry dough called "Pâte Sablée" is the perfect Tart Crust to use with a fruit or chocolate filling. Made with 5 ingredients only, this all-butter French Shortcrust Pastry can be prepared by hands or in the food processor.
Why we love this recipe
A good Tart always starts there: a delicious crust! This classic French Shortcrust Pastry Dough called Pâte Sablée (pronounced "Paht Sa-Blay') is not only super versatile, it is also very easy to make.
With the option to prepare it by hands or in the food processor and to keep it in the fridge or freezer for days, this pastry is always a great option when it comes to making Tarts from scratch. And you can even use this pastry to make Mini Tartlet Shells like the ones I used in these Lemon Curd Tartlets!
And you can easily customise it with additional flavours like Citrus Zest, Vanilla or even Chocolate like I did with my Chocolate Pastry Dough. An easy way to make your pastries even more sensational!
What is Pâte Sablée?
Pâte Sablée means "Sandy Dough" in French. That name refers both to the pastry's texture that is lightly crumbly like sand, as well as the technique use to make it called "Sablage".
The "Sablage" technique is done by cutting cold butter into a dry ingredient like flour to create small crumbs that resembles sand. A liquid (often Cold Water like for my Savoury Shortcrust Pastry or an Egg) is then added to bring the pastry dough together.
One of the Classic French Pastry Tart Dough, along with a Pâte Brisée and a Pâte Sucrée, a Pâte Sablée is usually used for fruity or chocolate tarts. It has a slightly sweet flavour with a thick and crumbly texture, thanks to the large ratio of butter it contains.
This Pastry Crust is made out of 5 very basic ingredients:
- Flour: Plain / All Purpose, well sifted. Add a little bit of Salt to it to balance the flavours.
- Sugar: use Icing or Powdered Sugar for a very smooth texture. And make sure to sift it too as icing sugar tends to get lumpy when stored.
- Butter: Unsalted, cut into small cubes and really cold. The temperature is really important to get the "shortcrust" texture.
- Egg: medium size, preferably at room temperature. I recommend whisking it in a small bowl separately before adding it to the dough, as it will incorporate more easily.
Optional Additions: Citrus Zest (if making a lemon tart for example, add some lemon zest to your crust!), Vanilla Powder, Freeze-Dried Berries for colour or even some Cacao Powder like I did for my Chocolate Pate Sablee.
How to make this Pastry Dough
There are two ways to make this dough: by hands or with a food processor. I personally always do it in the food processor as I find it quicker, cleaner and get a better "sanding" result. That being said, it can absolutely be done by hands (a Pastry Blender will help) as well!
A third option would be a creaming method, which requires to cream the butter and sugar first before adding the rest of the ingredients.
With a Food Processor
- Photo 1: Place the Flour, Icing Sugar and Salt in the bowl of your Food Processor. Pulse to combine, then add the cold Butter cut into small cubes.
- Photo 2: Pulse to blend until you get very thin crumbs. You shouldn't see any large lumps of butter anymore.
- Photo 3: Add the Egg, preferably pre-whisked in a separate bowl (it will incorporate more easily if the yolk and whites are already mixed).
- Photo 4: Blend again until the dough starts to form. You should see large lumps and crumbs. If you press the lumps in your hands, they should stick together. Try not to overmix the dough at this point.
- Remove from the food processor and bring the dough together into a smooth, slightly soft ball.
- Photo 1: Sift the Flour, Icing Sugar and Salt into a large mixing bowl. Mix to combine, then add the cold Butter cut into small cubes.
- Photo 2: using your fingers and/or a Pastry Blender, cut the butter into the dry ingredients. That is done by rubbing the small cubes of butter into the powders until you get small crumbs, can't see large lumps of butter or loose powders.
- Photo 3: Add the Egg, preferably pre-whisked in a separate bowl (it will incorporate more easily if the yolk and whites are already mixed).
- Photo 4: Mix the Egg in until a soft dough forms. That can be done by hands in the bowl, or more easily on your work bench by using the "Fraisage" (*) technique.
(*) "fraisage" is a technique used to mix a liquid ingredient (usually water or an egg) into a shortcrust dough. It is done by pressing small chunks of dough against a hard surface with the palm of your hands in a linear movement. This mixes the egg, butter and dry ingredient very homogeneously.
Rolling, Resting, Lining the Tart Pan and Baking
Once your Pate Sablee Pastry is ready, it is time to focus on the most important part: rolling the dough, resting it and lining the pan. Some recipes require you to chill the pastry first before rolling it, but I prefer to roll it straight away while still soft.
- Photo 5: Place the pastry dough between two sheets of baking paper and roll it into a large, thin circle with a rolling pin. The thickness depends on how you will use the crust, but I usually roll mine to be about 4mm (1/8 inch) thick.
- Place the rolled pastry on a flat tray in the fridge to rest and chill for at least 1 hour, or up to 24 hours.
- Photo 6: Remove the two layers of baking paper and place the pastry inside your Tart Ring (or tart pan). Slide the dough along the edges of the pan and try to insure it creates a sharp 90 degree angle between the bottom and the sides of the pan. Note that you might need to let the pastry come back to room temperature for a few minutes if too hard to handle.
- Photo 7: Remove any excess dough with a small sharp knife
- Photo 8: "dock" the bottom of the pastry (if blind-baking it) by pricking it with a fork.
- Place the pastry back in the fridge to rest and chill for at least 1 hour, or up to 24 hours.
- If blind-baking it, bake in an oven preheated on 160'C/325'F for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden and completely dry to the touch. Leave to cool down completely before adding your filling. Optionally, brush with an egg yolk halfway through the baking to seal the pastry.
Note: I like to place the pastry in the freezer while the oven is preheating to insure the butter is extremely cold. This is a great way to make sure the pastry does not move or collapse in the oven.
Tips for success
- Don't over-mix the dough or it will pull when you roll it and potentially shrink, move or even collapse in the oven. This is because working the dough too much will activate the gluten contained in the flour, which tends to give doughs some spring.
- Resting and Chilling is the most important part - don't skip it! Resting the Pate Sablee allows for the gluten to relax (meaning to movement when baked) and chilling it insures the butter stays really cold, which is essential to get the nice crumbly texture known in shortcrust pastries. I highly recommend placing the pastry in the freezer while preheating the oven as well.
- Blind-Baking the Pastry: always follow the instructions of the tart filling recipe. This Pâte Sablée can be baked with a filling inside it as well as being partially or fully blind-baked as well. Some fillings will require you to fully blind bake the pastry first (a Pastry Cream filling for example) while others will need to be baked inside the Pastry (an Almond Cream Filling for example).
- Use a Rolling Pin with Thickness Rings to get an even thickness in your pastry.
- Use a Perforated Tart Ring to get the most perfect baked pastry. This type of tart pans allows for the hot air to travel through and around the pastry and bake it evenly. If you don't have a tart ring, a traditional tart pan will be fine too!
- Brush an Egg Yolk on the pasty halfway through the blind-baking process to "seal" it. This is optional, but a good way to insure that a rather wet filling won't make the pastry soggy after being stored. This will also give a nice golden colour to the tart crust.
- The dough is too sticky: sprinkle with a little bit of flour, about 1/2 tablespoon at the time until you get the desired consistency. A great tip is to roll the dough between two sheets of baking paper, so that it does not stick on your kitchen bench and can be easily moved.
- The dough is hard & crumbly: mix in a little bit of very cold Water, about 1/2 tablespoon at the time until you get the desired consistency.
- The pastry cracks when I line my Tart Pan: this usually happens when the dough is too cold (and the butter thus hard). Simply leave the pastry to come back to room temperature for a few minutes until the butter starts to soften again. If too soft to move, place back in the fridge for a few minutes. Any cracks can be patched with your fingers too.
- The crust shrank or collapsed in the oven: often happens when the Shortcrust Pastry wasn't rested and/or chilled for long enough. Always rest the pastry for at least 2 hours (one hour rolled flat, one hour lined in the tart part) or up to 24 hours in the fridge. A good tip is to freeze the pastry just before baking it to insure the butter is very cold.
- The tart crust burned before it was fully baked: your oven is probably too hot, or the pastry was rolled too thinly. The baking time is always indicative as oven temperatures often vary, so check on your pastry while it bakes! If needed, covered with aluminium foil and continue baking until ready.
This Pastry can be used for many of your favourite sweet tarts, especially Fruit Tarts like a Strawberry Tart or a Chocolate Tart like my Chocolate Ganache Tart.
Did you know you could also use this dough to make Cookies? This recipe is very similar to Sablés Bretons Cookies for example, or any type of Shortbread Cookies like my Almond Shortbreads.
It depends on the filling you will use, and if that filling requires to be baked as well or not. If making a tart with a custard filling for example (that does not requires to be baked), you will need to fully blind bake the pastry. Always follow the instruction of your filling recipe!
Absolutely, this Shortcrust Pastry stores well both in the fridge and freezer, raw or baked. You can make it in advance, line your tart pan and keep it in the fridge for 24 hours. Once baked, keep it at room temperature covered with wrap for 24 hours before adding the filling.
Yes, Pate Sablee freezes well. I recommend lining your tart pan or ring then freeze it. Once frozen, remove the pan then wrap the crust in a layer of cling wrap and a layer of aluminium foil until ready to use. Place back in the pan before baking. Simply add 5 minutes to the recommended baking time to thaw it in the oven.
More Tart Recipes:
- Orange Cream Tart
- Pear Frangipane Tartlets
- Puff Pastry Apple Tarts
- Baked Chocolate Tart
- Rhubarb Custard Tart
- Easy French Apple Tart
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Pâte Sablée (French Shortcrust Pastry)
- 250 gr (1 2/3 cup) Plain / AP Flour
- 50 gr (1/2 cup) Icing Sugar - or Powdered Sugar
- 1 pinch Table Salt
- 120 gr (1/2 cup) Butter - very cold
- 1 Egg
In the Food Processor
- Mix the Flour, Icing Sugar and Salt in the bowl of your Food Processor. Add the cold Butter cut into small cubes, then pulse to blend until you get very thin crumbs. You shouldn't see any large lumps of butter anymore.
- Add the Egg, preferably pre-whisked, and slowly blend until the dough starts to form (see note 1). Remove from the food processor and bring the dough together into a ball.
- Sift the Flour, Icing Sugar and Salt into a large mixing bowl. Stir to combine, then add the cold Butter cut into small cubes. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients using your fingers or a Pastry Blender (see note 2).
- Add the Egg, preferably pre-whisked, and work it with the rest of the ingredients with your fingers, either in the mixing bowl or on your kitchen bench (see note 3). You should get a smooth, slightly soft dough.
Rolling, Resting & Lining the Tart Pan
- Assemble the dough into a large ball and place it between two sheets of baking paper. Roll into a large, thin circle using a Rolling Pin (see note 4). Place the rolled pastry over a flat tray and leave in the fridge to rest and chill for at least an hour, or up to 24 hours.
- Remove the two layers of baking paper and place the pastry inside your Tart Ring/Pan. Slide the dough along the edges of the pan and try to make sure you get a sharp 90 degree angle between the bottom and the sides of the pan (see note 5).
- Dock the Pastry by pricking the bottom with a Fork, then place back in the fridge to rest and chill for at least an hour, or up to 24 hours.
- (If fully Blind-Baking): Preheat your oven on 160'C/325'F and place the line tart pan and the freezer in the meantime. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden and dry to the touch (see note 6). Leave to cool down completely before adding your choice of filling.
- At this point, you should see large lumps and crumbs of dough. If you press the lumps in your hands, they should stick together. Try not to over-mix the pastry at this point.
- That is done by rubbing the small cubes of butter into the powders until you get small crumbs and can't see large lumps of butter or loose powders.
- You can use the "fraisage" technique, which is done by pressing small chunks of dough against a hard surface with the palm of your hands in a linear movement. This mixes the egg, butter and dry ingredient very homogeneously. If too dry to combine, add a little bit of very cold water, 1/2 tablespoon at the time. If too sticky, add a little bit of flour, 1/2 tablespoon at the time.
- The thickness is up to you, I usually roll the dough to be about 4mm (1/8 inch) thick.
- If using a Pastry Ring, do that step oven a lined flat tray. You might need to let the pastry come back to room temperature for a few minutes if it seems to hard to handle or starts to crack. If it becomes very soft and difficult to handle, place back in the fridge for a few minutes.
- You can brush an Egg Yolk over the pastry halfway through the baking to "seal" it. It is a great technique to use if your choice of filling is rather liquid, as it will insure the pastry remains crunchy for longer.