Pâte sablée crumbles easily after baking


LSY

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My pâte sablée (sweetened pastry dough) crumbles too easily after baking. It can't hold its shape just falls apart after slicing. What could be the issue?

Recipe:
Mix 350g softened butter with 140g of icing sugar until pale yellow. Add 50g of egg yolks, mix until combined. Add 280g of cake flour, mix until combined then add 50g ground almonds and 4g salt and mix until combined. Spread a layer of batter at bottom of tart tin. Add a layer of prune paste then cover with rest of batter. Rest tart in fridge for 1 hour then bake in preheated oven at 140 degree celsius for 45 mins.
 
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It’s probably the fat and flour.


Your recipe has the following ratios:


1.0 flour

1.25 butter

0.50 icing sugar

0.18 egg

0.18 ground almonds

0.01 salt


That’s an extraordinary amount of butter. Butter isn’t just for flavor, it is also used to inhibit gluten development.


The ground almonds is traditionally added to pate sucree to interfere with gluten development as well.


Icing sugar contains cornflour as an anti-caking agent. Cornflour will inhibit gluten development.


Cake flour is milled from a low protein soft wheat and is bleached. Given bleached flour is banned in Europe and Australia, it is not milled and sold in these countries. So if you are using the so called cake flour substitution of adding cornflour to plain flour, then the cornflour will further inhibit gluten development.



This is Pierre Herme’s Pate Sucree recipe.

150g softened butter

85g of icing sugar

50g of egg yolks

250g all purpose flour

30g ground almonds

2 pinches fleur de sel salt

1/4 vanilla bean


His flour to butter ratio is significantly less. So it will not undermine the strength of the flour. He also uses all purpose flour.


1.0 all purpose flour

.60 butter

.34 icing sugar

.20 egg

.12 almond flour
 

LSY

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Thanks for your advice Norcalbaker59! I read on the internet that there is a slight difference between pate sucree and sablee being sablee has a higher butter content. Is it correct? You recommended Pierre Herman's pate sucree recipe hence i did some search and found supposedly his pate sablee recipe from a blog. It is almost identical to his pate sucree. Wondering what's the actual difference between the two?

140g unsalted butter, diced and at room temperature
75g icing sugar
2g salt
25g ground almonds
seeds of 1/2 vanilla pod
1 egg
250g pastry flour
 
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Hello LSY,

Trust me, when it comes to tart dough, we are all confused. o_O

The Herme’ Pate Sucrée I listed is from my copy of his cookbook, “Pierre Herme Pastries.” Herme lists the recipe as “Pate Sucrée; and he uses it for several pastries.

I would call the recipe you found online a pate sucrée

But no doubt I’m confused as well
given bakers more often than not interchangeably use the terms pate sablée, pate sucree and pate brisée.

This is my understanding of the different tart doughs. I can’t say it’s correct. But just what I’ve been taught and observed.

Pate Sucree: suited for sweet desserts. It contains 1) icing sugar, not granulated sugar; 2) more sugar than Pate Brisee; 3) contains wheat and almond flours.


Pate Sablée is also suited to sweet desserts. It contains 1) granulated sugar; 2) it contains as much sugar as Pate Sucrée, just not icing sugar; 3) it does NOT contain almond flour.


Pate Brisée can be used interchangeably for savory (e.g., quiche) or for a sweet dessert. Pate Brisée differs in that 1) granulated sugar is used only in sweet applications; 2) contains more butter; 3) does NOT contain almond flour.

I only have one French pastry cookbook with both a Pate Sucrée and a Pate Brisée. The Brisée dough only contains 20 grams granulated sugar to 250 grams of flour. That’s about 80% less sugar than a Pate Sucrée. And the Pate Brisée contains no almond flour .

The Sucrée recipe in the book is made with icing sugar and a mix of almond flour. It also has a lot more sugar than the Brisée. The pastry chef was French trained, and served as a recipe tester for Pierre Herme.

In the Tartine cookbook, Elizabeth Pruitt includes a Pate Sablée. It contains granulated sugar, but no almond flour.

I have another cookbook that is actually more a textbook, with recipes from the top European pastry chefs, including Herme. Since it’s a textbook, it’s organized differently. All of the basic recipes that a pastry chef should know are at the back of the book. No sweet tart dough is listed in the basic recipes sections.

Instead, a half a dozen tart recipes in the book use a Pate Sablée; like Prueitt’s Pate Sablée recipe they contain granulated sugar but no almond flour. Where Pruitt’s recipe has a 40% sugar to flour ratio, the master pastry chefs’ book used a 30% sugar to flour ratio.

Elizabeth Pruitt, who studied for a number of years in France, just adds to the confusion by including a “flaky tart dough.” Which is really a pie crust. She uses the rough puff pastry method of working in the butter. Which is now my go to method for pie crust as it produces an incredibly flaky crust.

So what I was taught seems to be supported in the French pastry cookbooks I own. But like you, I see the tart dough terms used interchangeably. So I can’t say for sure what is correct.

I hope I haven’t confused you further.
 
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My pâte sablée (sweetened pastry dough) crumbles too easily after baking. It can't hold its shape just falls apart after slicing. What could be the issue?

Recipe:
Mix 350g softened butter with 140g of icing sugar until pale yellow. Add 50g of egg yolks, mix until combined. Add 280g of cake flour, mix until combined then add 50g ground almonds and 4g salt and mix until combined. Spread a layer of batter at bottom of tart tin. Add a layer of prune paste then cover with rest of batter. Rest tart in fridge for 1 hour then bake in preheated oven at 140 degree celsius for 45 mins.
Yeh, theres the problem, powdered sugar. Wrong sugar.
Sable is granulated sugar.
I wouldn't make a tart with a cookie batter.

Sable lacks plasticity to use as a tart mold liner, it will crack and break before you can get it into the mold.
It will crack apart as you try to roll it.
Thats why they make sucre.

if you roll out pate a sucre and line the mold then fill with your hybrid sablee batter it will hold together.

Watch this french guy line a mold with sablee, it works great until he puts it in the mold, then it breaks before he can get it in. Ends up being a patch job, pate a sucre doesn't do this.
Each dough has specific properties we need for the job at hand.

 

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