Pâte Sucrée is one of the three basic French pastry dough recipes. It's sweet, crisp, and a bit flaky and used for a variety of sweet pie fillings. It's a sturdy pie crust perfect that holds up well.
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Pate Sucree Recipe
The name itself may be intimidating, but Pâte Sucrée (pronounced pat sue-KRAY) simply put, is sweet flaky pie dough. It is similar to Pate Brisee, or basic flaky pie dough, but with the addition of sugar. It is sturdy so it holds up to a heavier pie filling, such as cream pie or a chiffon pie.
During my baking career, I've searched for one definitive answers as to what the difference is between pate sucree and pate sablee, and I've never able to find one collective answer. Every book, chef and website has a slight variation or reasoning behind their list of ingredients and methodology.
My version is made in a food processor, and then finished by hand using a french technique called fraisage. It is possible to make it all by hand though, and I give instructions on that variation in the text below.
The baked pastry crust is a little bit sweet and tends to brown more easily (which means: a bit more flavor), with a nice crispness to it and a bit of flakiness.
So, let's get to making it, shall we? The text below offers tons of tips and helpful notes, or you can scroll to the bottom to grab the recipe and get started!
- All-Purpose Flour
- Unsalted Butter
- Granulated Sugar
- Ice Water
Useful Tools to Make This Recipe
Here is a list of some of the primary tools I use in this recipe. You won't necessarily choose to use them all, but they are exactly what I used. Any links may contain affiliate links.
- Kitchen scale (read here for why it's useful)
- Food Processor
- Bench scraper
- Rolling Pin
- Plastic Wrap or reusable food wrap
What is the difference between a sweet pie crust and a flaky pie crust?
A pâte sucrée pastry uses similar ingredients to a flaky pie crust (also known as a Pâte Brisée), with one big exception: granulated sugar. The added sugar not only makes the pie dough sweet, but it also makes it more brown, crisp and tender because the granulated sugar cuts through the gluten formation.
Pâte sucrée pastry is mildly flaky. In order to attain those short flaky layers while still building up the necessary strength in the dough, the recipe calls for an extra step known as fraisage (more details are written about this below). This step, done by hand, blends the butter and sugar into the flour so the dough comes together while still maintaining shards of whole butter.
If this step was skipped, the pastry would be too tender because of the addition of sugar, and it would be hard to roll out. And if it was fully blended in the food processor, then there would be no flaky layers left. By performing the fraisage after the butter has been worked into the flour, it builds up just enough strength for the dough to come together while also maintaining those short flaky layers in the final pastry.
These are the essential steps to making this sweet pie dough:
- Pulse together the dry ingredients and sugar very well. You want to break down the sugar to a fine grain.
- Add in the butter pieces and pulse until they are about the size of a pea.
- Pulse in the water. The dough should be crumbly, but not cohesive. Please see the photo for what it should look like.
- Pour the crumbly dough onto a work surface and fraisage the dough until it comes together (see more about this process below).
- Divide the dough in half and wrap tightly in plastic.
- Roll out the dough while it is in the plastic wrap to help to create an airtight seal and then let rest at least 2 hours, or better overnight.
What is Fraisage?
Fraisage is a French technique of blending the fat into the flour. You use the heel of your hand to spread the fat into the flour to create long, thin streaks of butter. When these butter streaks melt during baking, they produce steam that lifts the pastry up, creating flaky layers.
To fraisage, you want to make sure you start out with properly made dough. The dough should not be fully blended (that would mean you have overworked the dough) but instead it should be crumbly.
Using the heel of your hand, quickly press down on a small pile of dough and press your heel forward to smear the butter. I like to create a line of crumbly pie dough and fraisage my way down the line. Once you have worked most of the dough, quickly use a bench scraper to gather up all the dough. Keep as many of the streaks of butter intact as you can by scraping up the layers with the bend scraper, and then piling them on top of one another to create a dough disk. The more layers of butter you create, the flakier your pie will be.
Tips for Working with a Pâte Sucrée
- Let the dough rest. I never advise making a flaky type pie dough the same day you plan to bake it. It’s essential for the dough to hydrate properly and so the dough should rest at least overnight. If you absolutely need to, you can make the dough and bake it all in the same day, but you must let it rest at least 2 hours before you roll it out. Dough that is made the same day it’s rolled out and baked can be more difficult to handle and possibly deform in the oven because the butter hasn’t chilled enough and the gluten hasn’t had time to relax. Try to plan accordingly.
- Weigh your ingredients! An electronic kitchen scale is not a huge investment. You can get one for around $25. I can't recommend enough that if you want to get good at baking, get a scale.
- Use better quality butter and flour. Both of these ingredients can wildly vary in quality. Poor quality butter will have a higher water content and less fat. Lower quality flour can vary in the protein structure and that will effect your final pie crust. In the end, I'd still choose a homemade pie crust made with cheap butter and flour over anything store-bought. However, with that said, if you are looking for a really amazing pie crust buying quality ingredients will make a difference.
- This dough is stickier because of the granulated sugar. You might even notice some moisture on the dough when you take it out of the refrigerator to roll it. You'll need to use more flour than you typically would so it doesn't stick. If there is a lot of excess flour on your dough after it has been rolled out, you can brush some of it off with a dry pastry brush. However, I find it useful to leave some of the flour on the pastry that will be touching the surface of the pie plate as it helps it release easier when the pie is baked.
- Bake this crust at a lower temperature. This pastry has a high sugar content, so I recommend to bake it at 400º to ensure it doesn't burn. If you want to use this crust with a pie recipe that requires high temperature for a long time, it probably isn't the best choice. However, it can be used in a recipe that calls for a high temperature in the beginning, but then lowers it. Cover the edges if they're are browning too quickly.
How to Blind Bake this Sweet Pie Dough
Blind baking means baking the pie crust empty, without any filling in it. There are a few reasons you would need to blind-bake a crust, but the main one is that the pie has a no-bake filling! In that case, you'll need to fully bake the pie crust before adding in the filling.
If you are new to blind baking, check out this Tutorial for more in-depth information. Below is a quick overview.
To achieve the blind bake, start with rolling out the pie dough and placing it in the pie dish. Most of the time you should pierce the bottom of the pie crust with a fork to allow the steam to escape when baking, but not always. If the filling recipe does not call for this step, skip it.
Place the dough in the freezer for 10-30 minutes, while the oven preheats to 400ºF. Line the pie dough with a round piece of parchment paper and then add pie weights to fill (I use dry rice / beans / lentils), making sure to push pie weights to the edges. Bake for 20 minutes on the lower rack, then remove from oven and remove the parchment and pie weights. Return to oven and bake for an additional 5 minutes for a partial blind bake or about 10 minutes for a full blind bake. If the edges start to brown at any point cover them with pieces of aluminum foil or a pie shield.
Recipes to Make with Pâte Sucrée:
- Chess Pie
- Chocolate Cream Pie
- Strawberry Cream Pie
- Brownie Pecan Pie
- Bourbon Pecan Pie
- Honey Walnut Pie
I am so honored when you make a recipe from my site! If you make this Pâte Sucrée, please leave a comment and a star rating with your experience! If you have any questions about this recipe, feel free to comment here, too!Print
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