There are three famous French tart shells, and for the most part they are pretty interchangeable. However pate sucree is almost always used for sweet, or dessert tarts – which you might have been able to guess by the French word for sweet in the name.
If you’ve been to a fancy French patisserie you no doubt have seen gorgeous tarts. While tarts from pâte brisée or pâte à foncer can be savory or sweet, pâte sucrée is primarily used for sweet tarts like a fresh berry tart or tarte au citron.
However, don’t let the fact this is a French recipe overcomplicate things. Once you learn how easy this style of baking is, you will have so much fun making beautiful creations, or even inventing a few of your own. I love to fill mine with interesting fruit curds like gooseberry or blackcurrant.
What Is Pâte Sucrée
Pâte sucrée, which is French for sweet dough, is a version of shortcrust often used for tarts or tartelettes. This dough can also be used to make cookies, or as a base for various entremets.
What Do You Need To Make Pate Sucree Tarts?
Because pate sucree is a very old, classical recipe you don’t actually need anything specific. However there are two things I absolutely recommend to make your life easier. The first is a stand mixer. Sure, you could do everything by hand, but a mixer makes short work of it and saves you both time and energy.
The second thing is a perforated tart mold. Again, you can make tarts using anything from a porcelain pie dish to an aluminum takeout container. But, if you want those beautiful looking tart shells you see at the fancy shops, a perforated tart mold is a must.
Pate Sucree Ingredients
Fortunately, pate sucree does not require any odd or hard to find ingredients. In fact, I often make tart shells just because I have all the ingredients and figure I will think up a new tart dessert in a day or two. The one thing I recommend, as with all baking recipes, is to correctly follow the weight requirements of each recipe.
- 150 grams Flour – All Purpose flour works well here. If you use cake or bread flour the crust may have unfavorable results.
- 50 grams Sugar – white granulated sugar is best in this recipe.
- 110 grams Butter – Use a quality butter with a higher fat percentage than standard American butter if you can find it. I recommend something above 82% fat (I use 82.5% fat butter for both my sweet and savory tarts).
- 1 large Egg Yolk
- 1 tbsp Milk
- 5 grams Vanilla Powder – if you want to use vanilla extract instead then measure out just a teaspoon.
- 1/4 tsp Salt
How To Make Pate Sucree Dough
Add all your dry ingredients (flour, sugar, vanilla powder, salt) to the bowl of a stand mixer and let combine. You can also do this with a whisk as it all combines pretty easily.
Next add in the butter and let run until you have a crumbly, sandy mixture. If you squeeze the mix together with your fingers it will press together, but will fall apart quickly. You want your butter to be colder than room temperature, but it does not need to be super chilled like many American pie crust recipes.
Finally add in the egg yolk and milk. Run the machine until you have a clumpy, almost cookie-dough consistency mix. In fact, pate sucree does make pretty decent sugar cookies if you wanted to do cut-out shape cookies to decorate with kids.
Remove the pate sucree dough from the mixer and form into a ball. Place in a bowl and cover with a lid or plastic wrap. Then place the bowl in the fridge to chill for a couple hours.
Baking Tart or Tartelette Shells
When your dough is sufficiently chilled (cold but not rock hard) remove it from the bowl and place it on a floured surface. Use a rolling pin to flatten it out to about a third of a centimeter (about 3-4mm).
If you are making a large single tart you will want to make the entire sheet quite uniform with no cracks or lumps. However if you are making tartelettes then you can divide the dough into smaller pieces which are easier to roll out.
Press the dough into your tart or tartelette molds so they are firmly compacted into shape. Then run a thin knife all along the edge to remove excess dough. I like to do this step already on my silicone baking mat so there is little movement.
Dock (poke holes) into the bottom of the shells, and then line the shells with foil. Fill with pie weights, dry rice, or dry beans. Place the tray into the fridge to chill for 15 minutes. Preheat your oven to 180C or 356F.
Place the tray in the oven and bake for 12-14 minutes. Then remove the foil and rice and place back in the oven to bake for another 10 minutes. If you see the tart getting too dark earlier in the oven then you can pull them out, that means your dough was likely too thin and is already fully baked.
Let the tarts rest for a couple minutes in the molds, then remove them and place on a cooling rack to cool completely before filling. You can fill pate sucree tart shells with a huge variety of things, the most popular of which is a classic creme patisserie.
Tips And Tricks
- Roll out any extra dough and use cookie cutters to make some quick and easy cookies. They only take 12-14 minutes to bake so you can remove them when you take out the foil/weights.
- Do not skimp on the weights. If you do not add enough the bottom is likely to rise up too much, decreasing the amount of space for filling.
- If you prefer to make savory tarts like a ham and manchego tart or a ratatouille octopus tart to serve as canapes at dinner parties, then do not make a pate sucree. You should make a pate brisee or a pate a foncer instead as they do not have as high a sugar content as dessert tart shells.
What To Make With Pate Sucree?
Because pate sucree is used for dessert tarts you can make anything you think will go well in a sweet tart shell. An easy way of thinking is, “if it makes a good pie it will make a good tart.”
- Creme Patisserie as a base for a fresh fruit tart
- Lemon Tart
- Chocolate Tart
- Multi-fillings like Cremeux + Praline or Jam + Mousse
- Tart or Tartelette Molds
- 1 stand mixer | optional, but makes life so much easier
- 150 grams Flour All Purpose flour works well here. If you use cake or bread flour the crust may have unfavorable results.
- 50 grams Sugar white granulated sugar is best in this recipe.
- 110 grams Butter Use a quality butter with a higher fat percentage than standard American butter if you can find it. I recommend something above 82% fat I use 82.5% fat butter for both my sweet and savory tarts.
- 1 large Egg Yolk
- 1 tbsp Milk
- 5 grams Vanilla Powder if you want to use vanilla extract instead then measure out just a teaspoon.
- 1/4 tsp Salt
- Add the flour, salt, sugar, and vanilla powder to the bowl of a stand mixer. Quickly whisk together.
- Add the butter and beat until you have a crumbly, sandy mixture.
- Add the eggs and milk and mix until you have a grainy, sugar cookie style dough. Remove from the mixer and place into the fridge to chill. Note: if your kitchen is very cold you might not need to chill the dough and you can go right on to the next step.
- Roll out your dough to about 1/3cm thickness. Drape it into your tart or tartelette molds on a baking tray and press the dough into the sides so it is evenly shaped. Poke holes on the bottom with a fork. Line the dough with foil and fill with pie weights, dry rice, or dry beans. Place in the fridge for 10 minutes. Preheat your oven to 180C or 355F
- Place the tray into the oven to bake for 12-14 minutes. Take out and remove the foil/weights. Place back in the oven to bake for another 10 minutes.
- Remove the tray from the oven and let the shells cool in the molds for a few minutes. Then knock them loose and place on a cooling rack until they come to room temperature. Fill with whatever you like and enjoy!