We’ve wanted to make this crust for a long time, but haven’t really had a need for it until now. We’ll show you why we needed one tomorrow, but, for today, let’s just cover making Pâte Sucrée, or sweet pastry crust.
One of the reasons we haven’t made this type of crust is that our go-to crust, Pâte Brisée, is so easy to whip up in only a few minutes. That, and there are hundreds of variations on sweet pastry crust, many from recipes where the crust is associated with a particular type of filling. Do you think bakeshops do that? Of course not. They find a great sweet pastry crust that they use for nearly everything, which is exactly what we’re looking for, too.
So, we figured that for our first sweet pastry crust, we’d head off to the same source as for our Pâte Brisée, Bouchon Bakery, by Thomas Keller and Sebastian Rouxel. If you haven’t already, you should check out the book (or any of Thomas Keller’s books), as we’ve found that every recipe we’ve tried works out exactly as it should. Sure, the measurements are precise, and the instructions sometime quite detailed, but the recipes just work. And the results are always worth the effort.
Use free range eggs. They taste better. Simple as that. Unsalted butter, because you’re the one who decides if something needs salt. Real vanilla. Period. There’s nothing like real vanilla. And, if you don’t have almond meal, you can make it up in a food processor. As you’ll see below, we did.
Note that we give the measurements in grams first. For a lot of baking, you want to be as accurate as you can. You’re making chemical reactions happen in your kitchen, and chemical reactions are all about exact ratios between the constituents.
The measurements of this recipe intrigue us. They’re very precise, yet they’re matched specifically to the size of a large egg. Note that the amount of butter (225 g) is almost exactly 4 times the amount of egg (56 g), and the amount of flour (375 g) is 8 times the amount of the almond meal (47 g) and first addition of powdered sugar (46 g), and 4 times the amount of the second listing of powdered sugar (96 g). In fact, when we tripled this recipe and converted to ounces, we got (almost exactly):
- 40 ounces flour
- 5 ounces powdered sugar (first amount)
- 5 ounces almond meal
- 24 ounces unsalted butter
- 10 ounces powdered sugar (second amount)
- 6 ounces eggs (3 large)
Which we guess is probably the recipe they use at Bouchon Bakery. Hmm. We were hoping for a set of ratios that would make this recipe easy to remember.
Procedure in detail:
Make almond meal. If you don’t have almond meal in your cupboard, it’s easy enough to make. Place the almonds, either whole, sliced, or slivered, in the bowl of a food processor and turn it on. In a minute or so, almond meal. Since we have a scale, we just weighed out the almonds, whizzed them to bits, and left them until we needed them, knowing we wouldn’t have to weigh them again.
Mix drys. Measure the flour into a medium bowl, then add the almond meal and the 46 grams of powdered sugar and give everything a good whisking. The original recipe called for sifting the sugar and almond meal, mainly to break up clumps, but, since we’d just made our almond meal, we didn’t bother. Set aside.
Cream butter. Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and turn it to medium-low. In about a minute, the butter should be nice and creamy, almost like mayonnaise. If not, your butter may still be cold; wait a bit longer before creaming.
Add sugar. With the the mixer on medium-low, slowly add the powdered sugar. If it goes in too fast, it’ll get poofed right out of the bowl, making a mess. Once the sugar is in, scrape down the bowl, then let the mixer run on medium-low until the butter mixture is light and fluffy, about 1 minute.
Add vanilla. Split the bean down the center and scrape out the insides of the bean. This is where much of the flavor resides and you want that in your crust, so all those scrapings go into the butter mixture. Turn the mixer on low for about 30 seconds to incorporate them.
Add drys. Stop the mixer and add about half of the flour mixture. Use a spatula to mix it in part way (otherwise, the flour will poof out, making a mess), then mix it in using the mixer on low. Only mix until the flour is just incorporated, 15 to 30 seconds. Scrape the bottom of the bowl to include any flour that’s hiding. Repeat with the remaining flour.
Add egg. Quickly whisk the egg so it’s uniform — we just used the flour bowl; after all, it was empty — then add the egg to the mixer and mix on low until the dough just comes together, 15 to 30 seconds.
Smear dough. Turn the dough out on a clean work surface, and, using the heel of your hand, smear the dough about 8 inches on the counter. Fold and repeat a few times to work the dough so it sticks together and is uniform.
Divide and chill. Divide the dough into two equal pieces and shape each piece into a disk about 5 inches in diameter and 1 inch thick. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate overnight. You can also freeze this dough for about 1 month; just place the wrapped dough in an airtight plastic bag.
That’s it. We now had a sweet pastry dough for rolling out, and tomorrow we’ll show you what we made from it. But, for now, consider using this dough wherever you might have a filling that isn’t all sweet, but has some tartness to it. Think key lime pie, lemon tarts, rhubarb tarts, etc. This crust turns out very well. Five stars.