Brisée, Sucrée, Sablée

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!

10 thoughts on “Brisée, Sucrée, Sablée”

  1. I’ve been reading loads of recipes and tips from your blog using only the search bar lately. I’ve just made pastry cream and cream puffs this past weekend from your recipes (both painfully successful. ooph, I’m still full). But this clarification has perfect timing! I just googled this very thing and was disappointed with the findings, so I decided to come to you. Should have known.

    1. Yes, me too! I did the Japanese Cheese Cake, highly recommended! I think we should all be using the Tip Jar to keep the site what we all have come to rely upon, a wealth of information as well as a few giggles! 😉

  2. I think of pate sablee as basically being either sweet or savory sandy-textured, whereas sucree is always sweet and pate brisee is savory. Pate brisee is a bit more flaky than the others though still not as flaky as a pie dough.
    I mostly stopped trying to define them though since they are indeed used interchangeably by various chefs so that one’s pate sablee is another’s pate sucree.

    1. Savory sablée dough…that thought has never occurred to me before. But i very much like the idea of it. You’ve given me something to try, Mil, thanks!

      – Joe

  3. Hi Joe!

    I’m under the impression that it is mainly the butter content (another gluten inhibitor) of the sablée dough that makes it so “sandy” compared to a pâte sucrée…

    Would you say these tart doughs have different requirements when it comes to rest time before baking (shrinking) or the need to prebake the shell prior to filling it up?

  4. Thanks Joe,

    I recently made what I thought was to be pate brisee, but after reading this have realized that it was actually pate a foncer! I’ve linked this page on my blog for others to read what you have to say on differentiating these three pastry crusts!


    1. Hi Vicki! Of course technicalities like that only mean so much. I’ll bet it tasted great!

      Thanks for the link love!

      – Joe

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *