This Pâte Sucrée recipe – aka Sweet Shortcrust Pastry – makes the perfect pastry crust for a fruit tart. Made from simple ingredients, this pastry will be the most delicious, buttery and crispy companion to your homemade fruit pies and tarts. Trust me, you will never want to buy frozen pastry again!
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Ever wanted to start making your own tart pastries at home? This Basic French Tart Pastry recipe is for you!
I know how easy it is to pick up a frozen crust from your supermarket, but neither taste nor texture comes close to a homemade pie crust.
This Tart Crust Guide should give you all the information – and the confidence – to make your own pastry at home and from scratch!
What is ‘Pâte Sucrée”
What does “Pate Sucree” mean? It literally translate to “Sweet Pastry” from French (or Sweet Dough). Pretty basic!
A Pâte Sucrée is the type of pastry often used as a Fruit Tart Crust. It is denser and stronger than Puff Pastry or a Flaky Pastries, so it doesn’t absorb much moisture after being baked. Perfect with fruits or creamy fillings that could release water or moisture!
Not flaky or crumbly like many other shortcrust pastry like Pâte Brisée, this pastry is rather crispy – like a thin shortbread cookie.
It is a lightly sweetened butter pastry dough usually made using a creaming method (“crémage” in French). The soft butter and fine powdered sugar are creamed together before the addition of eggs and dry ingredients.
What is the difference between Pâte Sucrée and Pâte Sablée
The main differences are the the ingredients, the texture and the method used to make the pastry. A Pâte Sucrée uses whole eggs, no water and confectioners sugar, while Pâte Sablée (often called and/or mistaken with “Pâte Brisée) is made with water, sometimes egg yolks and very little to no sugar.
The Pâte Sablée has a crumbly and flaky texture (the word “sablé” means ‘sandy’ in French). A Pâte Sucrée is crispy, more dense and richer in taste thanks to the whole egg and sugar.
Lastly, a Pâte Sucrée is traditionally made using the creaming method while a Pâte Sablée is made using a technique called “sablage” where the cold butter and flour are first mixed to create small crumbs before the adding of the wet ingredients.
Read more about the different types of Pastries and how to use them here.
This Sweet Pie Crust is made without shortening and uses Butter instead – as most French Pastries do. It also uses a mix of Plain Flour and Almond Meal, as well as Confectioners (or Powdered) Sugar instead of Caster White Sugar.
To make this pastry, you will need (scroll to recipe card for all quantities):
- Soft Butter – it needs to be very soft but not melted
- Confectioner’s Sugar – or Powdered Sugar (*)
- Almond Meal – or Almond Flour
- Plain Flour
(*) Note that Confectioners/Powdered Sugar is not the same thing as Icing Sugar that has added Starch to it. I have found that you can use Icing Sugar instead of confectioners sugar without seeing much difference in the dough.
The Almond meal is a great addition for both taste and texture. It also reduces the amount of gluten in the pastry, meaning there is less risk of it shrinking in the oven. You can substitute it with the same amount of Plain Flour if needed.
How to make Sweet Shortcrust Pastry from scratch
This recipe follows 4 main steps:
- Making the Pastry – by hands or in a mixer
- Rolling the Pastry and chilling/resting it in the fridge
- Lining it in a Tart Pan
- Baking it – either fully or in partially depending on the filling.
Like explained above, this pastry is made by using the “creaming” method where soft butter and sugar are mixed together before adding the egg and dry ingredients.
Making the pastry itself does not take long, but it is really important to follow the recommended chilling and resting time between each steps. So make sure you have enough time before making it!
Making the Pastry Dough
- First, make sure the Butter is very soft. Either take it out of the fridge 30 minutes to 1 hour before making the pastry and cut the butter into small cubes to fasten the process. You can also put it in the microwave for a few seconds but be careful not to melt it (put it back in the fridge to harden if it does).
- Use a small spatula or spoon to check that the butter is soft enough. Gently press on it and spread it out – you should not see any thick or hard lumps.
- Place the soft Butter and Powdered Sugar in the bowl of your mixer and cream it together with the leaf attachment for about a minute. It needs to be smooth but we are not trying to beat in air into it, so stop when all combined.
- Slowly mix in the whisked Egg, Almond Meal and Salt. Use a spatula to scrap down the sides of the bowl if needed
- Add the Plain Flour and mix it in on low speed (I like to add the flour it in two times) until combined. Stop as soon as the dough comes together to make sure you do not overwork it.
Rolling and Resting the Dough
- Transfer the pastry dough over a large sheet of baking paper.
- Bring it together in a ball using your hands, then slightly press on it to create a disk.
- Place a second sheet of baking paper over it then roll the dough into a large circle using a rolling pin. The easiest way to roll it is to always roll in the same direction, rotating the dough 90 degrees each time instead of rolling in a different direction (*)
- Optional: Place the tart pan you will use over the rolled pastry to check that it is rolled large enough.
- Place the rolled pastry over a flat tray and put in the fridge to chill and rest for at least 1 hour (or up to a day in advance).
(*) The pastry will be very soft and easy to roll, but try not to roll it too thin or it will be hard to line the pan and the pastry will tend to crack once baked.
Lining the Tart Pan with the Sweet Pastry Dough
- Take the pastry out of the fridge and leave to come back to room temperature for about 5 minutes.
- Peel off the top sheet of baking paper, then place it back on. Flip the pastry over and remove the second sheet of baking paper. This is to make sure it does not stick to the paper when you try to lift it.
- Use your rolling pin (slightly floured if needed) to roll the pastry and lift it. You can also do it by hands, but the pastry might crack.
- Place the pastry over one side of the tart pan and unroll it. I used a 25cm / 10 inch Tart Pan, but this recipe should yield for a slightly larger tin as well.
- Gently press the edges down to fit in the pan. Use your fingers to slide the pastry down the edges towards the corners, instead of pushing the base towards the edges. You want that corner to make a perfect 90′ angle. Make sure the Pastry is pressed tightly against all pan edges to avoid shrinking in the oven – there should no be any air pockets between the pan and the pastry
- Don’t worry if the pastry cracks, it is very forgiving and can be patched up.
Note: this pastry is much softer than a traditional shortcrust pastry because we are using soft butter instead of cold butter. The dough will get soft very quickly, which might make it hard to move around.
If you encounter this problem, place the pastry back in the fridge for a couple of minutes to harden. The key is to work quickly here.
Getting the Shortcrust Pastry ready to bake
- Once the pastry fits the pan, roll the rolling pin over the top of the pan to cut off any excess dough.
- Use the excess dough to patch up any cracks, holes or irregularities if needed.
- Optional: Run a small pairing knife along the top of the pastry, parallel to your working surface, to remove any excess pastry. This will make your the top of the pastry look straight and regular.
- Prick the bottom of the pastry with a fork. This is to make sure it does not inflate while baking.
- Preheat your oven on 160’F / 325’F and place the lined tart pan in the freezer to set while the oven is warming up (don’t skip this step, it is one of the most important one!).
- When the oven reaches the right temperature, place the tart pan in and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until golden and dry to the touch (*)
(*) this is to bake the pastry fully; if the recipe calls for a partially blind-baked pastry (meaning that the filling will need to bake inside the pastry in the oven), reduce the blind-baking time to suit.
Pâte Sucrée Troubleshooting
Can I make this pastry in food processor?
Technically, yes, although you will need to use another method than the ‘creaming’ one. To make sweet pastry in the food processor, cut the cold butter and all dry ingredients together until you get crumbs. Add the Egg and pulse until the dough comes together.
The Pastry is too sticky
If you find that the pastry is very sticky and hard to roll, you might need to add a little bit more flour. This could be because of the size of the egg you use or the type of butter.
The Pastry is breaking
Wondering why does my pastry crack when rolling? If the pastry seems to break when you are trying to put it inside the pan, it could be that it is still a little bit too cold – or a little bit too warm.
Ideally, the pastry should be at room temperature when you fill it in the pan. Which is why I recommend taking it out of the fridge about 5 minutes before filling the pan with it. If it becomes too soft to handle, place it back in the fridge for a couple of minutes.
Don’t worry though – this pastry is very soft, extremely forgiving and can easily be patched up. Once baked, you shouldn’t see the difference!
Do I really need to let it rest and chill twice?
If you want a perfect looking pastry case that hasn’t moved at all in the oven, the answer is: YES. There are two reasons why a pastry shrinks or collapses in the oven: gluten development in the pastry and soft butter that melts too quickly in the oven.
Letting the pastry rest for at least one hour after rolling it allows for the gluten to completely relax. You should notice that the dough does not pull at all after resting and is not elastic.
Chilling the dough in the freezer just before baking it also allows for the butter to firm up again and not melt too quickly in the oven.
The crust shrunk or collapsed in the oven
I have personally found that by rolling the pastry before chilling it, you almost never see it collapse or move in the oven.
If it does, it could be because of a few different reasons: the dough did not rest for long enough, the pastry wasn’t chilled for a second time before baking it or your oven was too hot.
Another reason could be that the pastry was not packed tightly enough against the tart pan. You should not have any air pockets between the pan and the pastry. Make sure the pastry is really sticking to both the bottom and sides of the pan!
Should I blind bake the Pastry?
It really depends on the Sweet Pastry Case Filling, but generally, yes. This type of tart crust is usually filled with pre-cooked creams and fresh fruits that do not need further baking. So in this case, you will need to fully blind bake the tart dough.
How to use this Tart Pastry
This pastry is perfect to use with a cream, custard and/or fruit filling – either fresh or cooked.
How long can I store this tart crust?
This tart crust can be stored either un-baked or baked.
It can be kept un-baked in the fridge for up to 2 days – either rolled between the two sheets of baking paper or in a ball/disk unrolled.
Once baked, you can keep it at room temperature without any fillings for a day. Simply make sure to let it cool down completely and wrap it / cover it properly and store in a cool shady spot.
Depending on the filling, the tart might need to be refrigerated once it is added.
Can I freeze this Sweet Pie Dough?
You can absolutely freeze it and it will keep well in the freezer for quite a few months (up to 3 months for the best results). Although you could freeze it after baking it, I recommend freezing it raw for a fresher taste and texture.
If you can, line the pastry in the tart pan before freezing it so it is pre-shaped. When ready to bake, place in the preheated oven straight from the freezer and simply add an additional 5 minutes of baking.
More Classic French Pastry Recipes:
- Choux à la Crème
- French Chocolate Tart
- Easy French Crêpes
- Classic French Profiteroles
- Sablé Breton Cookies
- Buckwheat Crêpes (Galettes Bretonnes)
Sweet Shortcrust Pastry Recipe:
Pâte Sucrée (Sweet Shortcrust Pastry)
- 100 gr ( 6 1/2 tbsp) Soft Unsalted Butter
- 40 gr (1/3 cup) Confectioner's Sugar, or Powdered Sugar
- 1 Egg
- 40 gr (1/3 cup + 1 tsp) Almond Meal
- 1 pinch Salt
- 200 gr (1 1/3 cup) Plain Flour
- Place the very soft butter (but not melted) in the bowl of your mixer with the Confectioners Sugar and mix together with the leaf/paddle attachment until smooth.
- Whisk the Egg and add it to the Sugar/Butter, along with the Almond Meal and Salt. Mix until combined.
- Add the Flour in 2 times, mixing on slow speed until all incorporated (1).
- Transfer the pastry dough over a large sheet of baking paper and assemble it into a ball. Gently flatten the ball into a disk using your hands, then place a second sheet of baking paper over the pastry.
- Thinly roll the pastry between the two sheets of baking paper using a rolling pin (2) then place it over a flat tray in the fridge to chill and rest for at least an hour (and up to a day).
- Take the pastry out of the fridge and leave it to come back to room temperature for about 5 minutes.
- Remove the baking paper sheets (3) and transfer the pastry over the tart pan. You can use your rolling pin to help you transfer the pastry if needed (4)
- Slide the pastry along the edges of the pan until it touches the bottom. Press it tightly against the bottom and edges of the pan (but without breaking it) to remove any air pockets. There should be no gaps between the pastry and the pan.
- Remove any excess dough using the rolling pin and/or a small pairing knife (5). Use any excess pastry to patch up holes, cracks or irregularities if needed.
- Poke the bottom of the pastry with a fork, then place the pastry in the freezer to set again.
- Preheat your oven on 160'C/325'F while the pastry is in the freezer.
- Bake the pastry for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the edges are golden and the pastry is dry to the touch. Leave to cool down completely before filling the tart case with your choice of creams and fruits.
- Do not overmix the dough here – you can stop as soon as you do not see large lumps or un-incorporated flour
- The best way to roll the pastry is to always roll in the same direction. Simply turn the pastry 90′ after each roll until you get a large circle. The pastry will be very soft – so easy to roll – but try not too roll it too thin. To check if it is rolled large enough, place the tart pan over and assess.
- To make sure the pastry can be easily moved away from the baking paper sheets: remove the top sheet of baking paper, place it back over the pastry, flip the pastry over and remove the second sheet.
- Roll the pastry around the rolling pin to easily move it. You might need to lightly flour the dough and/or rolling pin if the pastry seems sticky.
- Roll the rolling pin over the top of the pan to cut off any excess pastry. You can also use a small pairing knife run parallel to your work surface to cut off the extra pastry.