Pâte Sucreé

sweetpastrycrust
Pâte sucreé ( pronounced “pat-sue-cray”) means sugar paste (or dough) in French, and this dough is definitely sweet. The texture is crisp, like a buttery cookie, which makes it a perfect counterpart to custard, cream and fruit. The method is creaming, but be careful not to over mix, especially once the flour is added. Most chefs make this dough in an electric mixer, but I prefer making it by hand. Not only does the hand method put me in touch with my inner French farm-wife, but it comes out better. The flour proteins are worked less, which makes the finished product tender and crisp.

INGREDIENTS

1-1/2 cups cake flour
1/4 cup sugar
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 egg, beaten

METHOD

  1. Sift together flour and sugar onto a clean work surface. Cut butter into chunks, and rub it into the dry ingredients, forming a paste. (Your hands get messy, but they’ll clean themselves by the time the dough is finished.) When butter and dry are well combined, add egg  and work into a dough. Add extra flour ONLY if the mixture is very wet after all ingredients are well combined. Wrap dough and chill for at least 30 minutes before use. Dough can also be frozen for up to two weeks. Defrost overnight in refrigerator.
  2. When rolling the dough out don’t let it get too warm, or you’ll have a hard time rolling. Remember that fat softens with heat. If you keep the dough cold while you are working with it, it will be easy to roll out. The warmer it gets through room temperature or over-handling, the harder it is to roll. It sticks to the counter, the pin, your hands, and it becomes the source of much frustration. To combat the problem, work quickly. As soon as the dough shows signs of warming, throw it in the fridge. 
  3. To roll out dough work with only the amount you need, keeping the remaining dough refrigerated. Knead the dough briefly to soften, and form into a disc. Place on a floured surface and, with a rolling pin, roll over the center of the dough in one direction. Turn the dough 90˚ and roll in the center again. Turn again, and repeat this pattern until the dough is a 10-inch circle. Turning the dough in this manner keeps it round, and alerts you right away if it starts sticking to the counter. Spread flour under the dough as necessary to prevent sticking. Work quickly to prevent the dough from warming up. Transfer dough to pie pan by rolling it up onto the pin, or folding it in half.
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