French flan pastries

There are 3 main types of sweet French pastries used to make tarts and biscuits:

Pate Sucre  (which I used to make the base for the plum tart in my post “Recipes from Alsace”).

Pate Sable   (which I used to make the base for a cheesecake in my post “Cheesecake from Alsace”).

Pate Frolee  (with the addition of ground almonds often used to make a flat pastry disk).

 

 

These pastries are light and crisp. They are baked blind, filled with fruit and often with pastry cream.

The taste of homemade French pastry can’t be compared to any store-bought dough.

People are often afraid to make them on their own, but after some practice they realise it’s not that complicated.

Extra pieces of dough can be cut with cookie cutters and made into a small cookies (biscuits), or put into the freezer and used later.

Pate Sucre is a sweetened Pate Brisee (shortcrust pastry).

Pate Sable is a very rich pastry and because of its high content of sugar more delicate than pate sucre.

These French pastries are often put into a flan ring with a removable bottom.

 

 

Rules for making a French pastry:

All ingredients have to be at room temperature.

You have to work quickly.

You can make pastry by hand or with a food processor. A food processor is especially helpful when the weather is very warm, or if you have a warm hands.

A hot environment melts the butter in the pastry much faster.

If working with a food processor you have to be careful not to overdo it. Stop the machine when clumps just form.

Use unsalted butter.

Always sift the flour. This will remove any impurities as well as incorporate air and make the pastry lighter.

Pastries with a lot of sugar will turn brown quickly during baking so you have to watch carefully ( you can cover the edges with pieces of foil if they are browning quickly).

Chill pastry before rolling. This will relax the gluten and will prevent the pastry from shrinking when cooked.

Roll the pastry in short strokes, don’t stretch it.

If pastry was chilled for more than an hour it will need about 10 minutes at room temperature or it may crack if rolled.

If is difficult to roll the pastry you can put it in between sheets of cling film or baking paper.

If after baking the pastry is tough, it means it was overworked.

 

 

Making by machine:

If working with a food processor you have to be careful not to overdo it. Stop the machine when clumps just form.

Collect the dough into a ball and flatten into a small disk which will make easier to shape. Wrap it into a cling film.

 

 

Making by hand:

Cut the butter into pieces.

Sift the flour and salt on the working surface.

Make a well in the center and place the pieces of butter, sugar yolks and the vanilla.

With your fingertips of one hand using a pecking motion combine the butter, sugar and yolk.

Add little by little surrounding flour until it forms dough. All the flour has to be well incorporated but not overworked.. You have to work quickly.

Knead the dough with the palm of your hand pushing small portions of dough away from you.

Collect the dough into a ball and flatten into a small disc, which will make easier to shape later. Wrap it in cling film.

Refrigerate.

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