Nothing says spring like the flowers, fruits, and the fresh fragrance of blood oranges. These ruby-red orbs have an irresistible magnetic pull that draws you towards them.
Their bittersweet aroma is almost intoxicating.
That’s why I couldn’t say no to another basketful of oranges. Ronnie gave me three options to finish the last batch of fruits. I slice them and eat them raw, juice them to make a lip-smacking cocktail, or I bake them.
No points for guessing what I did.
As an avid learner of French patisserie, I decided to give pate sablee a try. The sweet shortcrust pastry features a cookie-like crispy crust that melts in your mouth with each bite. My rendition has a subtle nutty taste that will leave you wanting more.
What’s inside this tasty tart?
My light and airy dessert contains all health-focused baking staples that tie well with its zesty, citrusy flavors. The tasty tangy blood orange layer brightens your mood and tantalize your taste buds with every bite. The creamy layer is nestled inside a delicate heart-shaped sweet shortcrust. I topped these miniature tarts with fresh fruits and flowers to elevate the look.
Overall it’s the perfect ode to spring and its lively colors.
The most challenging part of mastering tart shells is its delicate design. One wrong move, and your crust crumbles. Luckily, I have a few tricks up my sleeves for nailing this dainty dessert.
Important Tips to Get That Perfect Pastry Crust
Looking at that smooth chocolate dome, you might think that this dessert is all about that smooth chocolate mousse. If you ask me, though, the star of this dish is actually that incredibly light, crumbly, and tasty shortcrust pastry tart shell at the base.
It adds balance to the entire dessert with its rich, savory taste and soft, biscuity texture. It brings the whole dessert together and makes it a yummy treat. However, unfortunately, this is one element that many people struggle with.
But not to worry. I’ve broken down all the components of this pastry crust and compiled some important tips that will have you making the perfect Pâte Sablée like any professional pastry chef. Let’s get right into it.
1. Creaming Vs. Crumbling
When it comes to making a shortcrust tart shell, pastry chefs either use the creaming method or the crumbling method. In the creaming method, you first have to beat the room-temperature butter into a cream consistency along with the icing sugar.
Then, you add in the rest of the dry ingredients until it reaches the ideal dough consistency. The second method, crumbling, requires combining all the dry ingredients first and then adding cold butter, cut into cubes, to the dry mixture.
Then, you mix the two together with your hands until it becomes all crumbly like sand. After that, you can add an egg to finally make it into a dough. For this recipe, I’ve used the crumbling method, and there’s just one reason behind it: it makes the dough much easier to work with.
Since the butter is cold, the resulting dough is also much firmer and easier to handle. You can easily get those neat and sharp tart shells that look like they’ve come straight out of a cookbook.
2. Maintaining the Right Temperature
For this recipe specifically, the temperature is everything. Well, it’s important for every baking recipe, but this dessert specifically requires extra care to maintain the perfect temperature of every element. Trust me. I’ve thrown too many tart shells (into my mouth) while testing this recipe to finally understand the importance of temperature.
I realized I was simply being impatient and not giving the dough enough time to chill in between all the steps. Baking is a science, and there are two very important factors to it. One is accurately measured ingredients, and the other is temperature.
Even before anything goes into the oven, the temperature of the ingredients can make a big difference in how the actual dish turns out. Temperature doesn’t just include the oven temperature but everything from your kitchen temperature to the temperature of each ingredient.
For Pâte Sablée, the temperature is the most crucial factor. If the dough is too hot, it’ll turn sticky, and you won’t be able to roll it or shape it as you like. On the other hand, if the dough is too cold, it will easily break. It’s all a science.
To give you my own example, since I live in Dubai, my kitchen at home can get quite warm on a hot day. So, I would take the dough out and pop it back in the freezer at least 15 times just to keep it at the right temperature! If you are lucky and your kitchen is cold already, you would probably have to do it just four or five times.
But the point is, keeping the dough at the right temperature is paramount!
3. Using the Right Equipment
My third and final tip for getting the perfect Pâte Sablée is using the right equipment. If you have tried other pastry recipes before, you might have noticed that some of them involve blind baking. This is a technique with which you bake the pastry crust or pie crust without any filling.
You spread the crust on your pan, line it with parchment paper, and add beans or rice to it before baking it. This helps you bake the crust without getting it all puffed up. Some find this to be a good technique, but in my opinion and experience in baking pastry crusts, it’s not a great technique.
While it does stop the pastry from puffing up, it doesn’t allow even baking. Moreover, it defeats the entire purpose of blind baking as the pastry does not turn out neat and cleanly baked as there are wrinkles and bumps all over it. So, what you need for those sharp edges and beautiful golden-brown tart shells is the right equipment.
- Silicone Baking Mat
While kneading the dough, you should use two silicone baking mats to roll the dough between. This will not only keep things clean and easy to manage, but you will also get a nice and smooth pastry dough.
Besides that, these mats will be a great investment overall. You can use them for several other recipes. They can easily be washed and reused, unlike parchment paper which has to be thrown away, so it is environmentally friendly as well.
- Perforated Baking Air Mat
This looks similar to the baking mat but has tiny holes all over it. This allows the heat to spread evenly throughout, resulting in better-baked desserts. You can use it for eclairs, cookies and many other desserts. For the Pâte Sablée specifically, the perforated mat helps you bake the tart shells evenly with a neat shape and beautiful color. You won’t have to resort to the blind baking technique either.
- Perforated Tart Ring
I only have one word for these tart rings: genius. Unlike the usual tart rings, these perforated ones have holes that allow the heat to spread evenly around the surface of the rings. This allows the tart shells to cook perfectly with excellent color, great texture, and brilliant shape! What more does one want? The rings are non-stick and stainless steel, so you don’t have to bother greasing them either.
Make Sure You’ve Got the Right Ingredients
For a great-tasting tart shell, you first need great ingredients. While experimenting with this recipe, I used many different ingredients, and trust me, even the smallest of substitutions can have a big impact on the final flavor. So, here’s what you need to make an amazing Pâte Sablée that you’ll want to eat all day long and forever,
I used all-purpose flour in my recipe, but you can also use pastry flour if you want. Pastry flour usually has a lower protein content which results in much more tender and delicate tart shells as compared to those made with AP flour.
Pro Tip: Besides these tart shells, pastry flour also makes great chewy cookies and light yet firm pie crusts as well.
Another ingredient people tend to add to their pastry dough is almonds, although it is not incorporated in every recipe. I prefer a smooth pastry dough, so I prefer adding almond flour instead. This way, I can add that nutty flavor without compromising on the texture of the pastry.
However, this also depends on the quality of the almond flour. The better the quality of the ground almond flour, without the skin, the stronger its flavor will be. You can also use other nut flours such as walnut, hazelnut, and pistachio.
I add a bit of icing sugar to my dough recipe as well, which further enhances its flavor. You don’t want to add too much, though, as you would risk making it too sweet, and it won’t go as well with the sweet mousse and buttercream on top.
A lot of people tend to get confused when they see salt in dessert recipes. However, the truth is that salt is an essential ingredient that actually brings out the flavor of all other ingredients. Even though the tart is slightly sweet, the salt balances it all out with that mildly salty aftertaste in the end.
You should always use unsalted butter in any dish that you are making. With salted butter, you never know how much salt they actually contain and how you should adjust your recipe accordingly. While I usually advise using all room-temperature ingredients, this is one recipe where you want cold butter.
As I’ve stressed repeatedly, you need cold butter throughout to make sure the dough stays manageable. When you take the butter out, cut it into small cubes and place it back in the freezer for about 10 to 15 minutes so that it’s chilled right before you add it to the dry ingredients.
Use room-temperature eggs always. I would suggest not replacing the egg with anything else as it could affect the entire flavor profile of the pastry, and then you will have to adjust the whole recipe accordingly.
Now, this recipe might seem difficult with so many elements to it, but it’s much easier than you think. You can whip up all the individual components quickly, and perhaps the only tricky one is the Pâte Sablée. But I’ve broken down the tips and hacks for that as well, so you are all ready to go!Print
- Prep Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes + 1 hour (Chill time)
- Total Time: 2 hours 40 minutes
- Yield: 2 filled tarts + 8 tart shells 1x
- 230 g AP flour
- 30 g almond flour
- 90 g icing sugar
- 110 g unsalted butter, very cold cut into cubes
- 1 egg
- A pinch of salt
WHITE CHOCOLATE LAYER*:
- 100 ml coconut milk
- 20 g white chocolate
- ¼ tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp agar agar
BLOOD ORANGE LAYER*:
- 75 ml blood orange juice
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tsp blood orange zest
- ¼ tsp agar agar
SHORTCRUST PASTRY TART SHELL
- Sift all the dry ingredients together.
- Add the chilled butter cubes and mix them with the dry ingredients till you have a crumbly, sand-like texture.
- Add the egg and mix till it starts becoming doughy.*
- Once the dough is ready, roll it out between two silicone baking mats to about 2mm of thickness. Place the dough along with the mats in the freezer for 15 minutes. Don’t remove the mats just yet.
- Take the dough out from the freezer and remove one of the silicone mats. Using the tart rings, carefully cut out 8 slices, which will be the base of the tart. Place these cuts into the tart rings using an offset spatula and making sure they retain their perfect shape.
- From the rest of the dough, cut out long slices, which will be the walls of the tart. Carefully place these on the tart rings and lightly press it at the bottom so that it sticks with the tart base.
- Place the tart rings in the freezer for an hour.
- Preheat your oven to 160 degrees Celsius.
- After an hour, take the tart rings out and trim any excess pastry dough using a sharp knife.
- Bake the tart shells for 20 minutes. Then carefully remove them from the perforated tart rings. Bake them for a further 5 to 10 minutes till they achieve that golden-brown color.
- Let them cool on the perforated baking mat before adding the filling.
WHITE CHOCOLATE LAYER:
- Add chocolate with coconut cream to a saucepan and mix to create a silky-smooth ganache.
- Let the ganache simmer and boil over low heat before adding agar.
- Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer as you continue stirring.
- Keep the stove on till the agar dissolves (for approx. 2 min).
- Slowly pour the mixture onto the crust.
- Pop it in the fridge to set.
BLOOD ORANGE LAYER:
- Start making the jelly layer once the white chocolate layer sets (and is firm to touch).
- In a small pot, add blood orange, blood orange zest, maple syrup and bring to a boil.
- Add the agar powder to the saucepan. Bring it to simmer while continuously stirring it to let the agar dissolve.
- Take the saucepan off the heat.
- Pour the jelly mixture onto the white chocolate layer.
- Pop it back into the fridge/freezer to set.
*This is enough for filling two tart shells. You can double or triple the ingredient amounts according to how many tart shells you plan to make.
Keywords: Tart, Pâte Sablée, blood orange tart, blood orange, shortcrust pastry, feuilletine, french pastry, sweet tart crust, tart crust, pâte sucrée
Now, who’s ready to take a piece of my (tart) heart?