no…this isn’t a post about self deprecation 🙂
as promised here’s the continuation to the pâte sablée post. i decided i was going to try a chocolate cream filling. i’ll talk you through that soon soon but for now lets focus on how to bake a tart shell.
there are three scenarios. firstly baking the tart shell the whole way and then filling it with a filling that doesn’t require baking. secondly, partially baking the tart shell and then filling it with a filling that requires baking and lastly filling an uncooked tart shell with a filling that requires baking.
we’re kinda sorta going with the first option here but let me give you a quick summary on the other two.
if you are partially baking (blind baking) then you will usually end up baking the final stage for 15 to 20 minutes. this is the case with milk tart. if you aren’t blind baking before adding the filling then the tart usually bakes for about an hour. this is case with lemon tart and pecan tart. tarte tartin is a slight exception here because you will generally only need to bake the uncooked pastry for about 40 minutes.
so first thing, take the pastry out of the fridge and let it soften a little. a little means when you try to squish it is has some give.
remove the cling wrap and place the pastry on a suitably sized piece of baking paper (it needs to be bigger than the rolled out area of the pastry.
cover with another sheet of baking paper. i love this method. you don’t have to flour any surfaces and you don’t have to worry about the pastry sticking to the rolling pin…bliss!
as you roll you will note cracks appearing on the outer edges of the pastry. don’t worry too much about this unless the cracks appear too large. if they do, lift the baking paper sheet and close up the crack. use the base of your tart pan to check if you’ve rolled the pastry out enough.
at this stage feel the pastry. it will soften as you roll it and soft pastry is hard to handle. if it feels soft or looks greasy then put it back in the fridge to cool.
when its cold again, roll the pastry onto your rolling pin.
be gentle and go slow. once you’ve got the pastry off the baking paper move it across to the tart tin and unroll. here again firmer pastry is easier to handle.
gently work the pastry into the tart tin. this pastry is very forgiving so don’t be disheartened if its a mess when you first start. just keep working at it till you have a nice neat shell.
i like the tart shell to be a nice thickness. unlike with conventional shortcrust pastry, pâte sablée is more than just a carrier for a tasty filling. the sugar content means it’s a stand alone element of the final product. what i mean is its delicious on it’s own, so thicker is better.
trim away any excess and use it to fill areas that look too thin or if you don’t have full coverage on the sides of the tart pan. prick with a fork, cover with baking paper and fill with baking beans.
some people use actual dried beans but i like these ones. something about heat conductivity something something. use what you have on hand.
i normally blind bake for about 12 minutes. when the time is up take the tart shell out of the oven and remove the baking beans. have a bowl handy so you have somewhere safe to put the hot beans.
at this stage there won’t be much colour on the pastry.
at this point i decided to change tack slightly. i was worried that i hadn’t cooked the chocolate custard enough. i was concerned that since said custard contained egg yolk that this could potentially be a bad thing. at the same time i didn’t want to bake the custard for a full 20 minutes because it had already thickened considerably. conundrums all over the damn place.
so i baked the tart shell for 10 minutes. it came out beautifully golden.
the colouring you see in the photo above should indicate a well cooked shell. if you have a relatively thin layer of tart shell it should be all the way cooked. at this stage you could choose to fill the shell with a pastry cream and top it with fruit or you could fill it with a chocolate ganache. use your imagination.
since i knew i had a thicker than normal tart shell i knew that some of those lighter sections needed more baking. so i filled that tart shell and baked it some more.
i baked it for 6 minutes. when the time was up i checked the filling and decided it wasn’t hot enough to have cooked the eggs. i baked it for a further 5 minutes and was happier. for some reason once the shell is filled it doesn’t continue to brown to an appreciable degree so you can bake it for a while if you need to. keep an eye on it though.
lessons learnt: i need an in-house photographer.