Reader Brendan also writes:
Also, a quick definition request. Sablée, brisée and sucrée. I understand the basic concept but they are so interchangeable between different sources i’m finding it hard to nail down the exact terms.
Sure thing, Brendan! Think of pâte brisée as your standard savory tart crust. It’s roughly analogous to American pie crust, though the French don’t worry about “rubbing in” butter in the same way we do. They usually make theirs with a mixer as they favor a much more even distribution of fat through the dough. Sometimes they’ll even go so far as to add egg yolk (at which point it’s known as pâte à foncer). Either way, the end result is a crust that is both finer of crumb and stronger than American pie crust, but that lacks a pie crust’s flakiness.
Pâte sucrée, as the name implies, is a sweet tart crust. It contains many of the same ingredients, though the process is different. It’s normally made via the creaming method: the sugar and the butter are creamed together in a machine, yolk or whole egg is added and the flour is blended in. What you get is a light, fine, strong, cookie-like crumb that will hold liquid fillings without leaking.
Pâte sablée is a very different creature. Sometimes the term is used interchangeably with pâte sucrée, though in truth it’s meant to have a crumbly, “sandy” (“sablée”) texture. Often that’s achieved with more egg, but frequently with the addition of almond flour, which further undermines the gluten formation, makes the crust more delicate and gives it that slightly rough-on-the-tongue texture.
Hope this helps, Brendan!