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Feb 11, 2013 02:09 AM

Pate sucree problem - crust melts in the oven

I've been trying to make a butter-rich pate sucree, but i have the problem that it melts in the oven.

I chill it, I rest it, I put it in the tin, rest and chill again... and it doesn't shrink too much, but it melts at the point where it overhangs the tin, so the overhang drips onto the tray below, and the inside walls slip down a bit (not too big a problem) and looks melty and ragged at the top - this makes a messy, crispy edge and I can't then cut off the overhang and get a nice clean edge.

Have tried five times now - no luck. What am I doing wrong?

Recipe I am trying to get to work is below (it's for a tart and I want to make it as per the recipe - I know I could reduce the butter and make my life easier but I want to see if I can make a really butter-heavy pastry here)

230g flour
150g butter
75g caster sugar
1 egg + 1 yolk
lemon rind

Bakes at 170C (fan)


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  1. I'd say the recipe is ok, but I would not put in the egg white, just the yolk. How long does it take you to incorporate butter into flour? And how do you do it? Do you have super cold butter? Food processor can sometimes melt the butter. Also, if you rub it for too long or work it for too long, butter can melt. Best is to use a cold knife from fridge, cut in cold butter as quick as you can into flour, sugar and rind. then chill. Then work in the egg yolks with knife. Before working with hands, I always wash them in very cold water and never work for more than 30 seconds. I rather put the unevenly mixed dough ball into a cold ceramic bowl and do circles withthe bowl. That way the dough mixes a bit without me touching it.

    Bake on 180-200C, no fan. I have never had good results with fan for baking, just for meat.

    Also, I never leave the dough to overhang. I cut it before it goes to the oven. Yes, it can shrink a bit, but I found it better to have little lower sides than overhang.

    1 Reply
    1. re: sasicka


      I tried both hands and processor. Was a bit better with hands, actually, but maybe because I really chilled the flour/butter in freezer --> it wouldn't come together (seemed too cold) so i had to warm with hands which I think was a mistake. Was working it for more than 30 secs.

      Will try again with knife and also no fan (I seem to be often getting bad results using the fan).

      I do also tend to avoid working it at all, so it's almost crumbly, but some recipes (eg Bertinet) say to work it a bit until like plasticine. Not sure about that...

    2. I'm a little confused by what type of tin and how you are forming the crust.

      "it melts to the point where it overhangs the tin . . . and the inside walls slip down a bit"

      what is overhanging the tin? are you using an angled sided tin? Are you shaping this into (what I would call) a pie tin or a tart tin?

      When I use pate sucre it is typically for use in a straight sided tart tin and the crust is cut even with the top of the straight sides, so that is my confusion.

      4 Replies
      1. re: thimes

        it melts AT the point where it overhangs the tin. So the overhanging pastry falls off, while the pastry lining the walls inside slumps a little (but not a lot).

        I use an 18cm non-stick sandwich tin. My aim is to have the overhanging bit cut the trim it off when the pastry is cooked but warm.

        I could try having no overhang and see if that works, but the recipe said to use overhang (it's this recipe: He doesn't mention the overhang here, but he does in the same recipe in his book).

        thanks for your help

        1. re: Imogina

          The recipe you linked doesn't say anything about overhanging the dough. It simply says line the tin. But the picture included shows an American style pie crust with the sloping upwards sides, which is odd given that most custard tarts I've had in the UK used the french style fluted upright tins.

          My guess is that the editor of the website simply tossed in a photo of an American style custard pie, not an actual photo of the tart featured in the recipe, which can be misleading if you're using the overall appearance as a guide. With American pies we don't let the dough overhang the rim because it will "melt" off due to a lack of support. We fold the dough back on the rim to form the rim of the crust.

          If you're using the fluted french tart pans just line it as one would. I'd trim then freeze the dough till it's stiff, then bake as per instructions.

          1. re: Roland Parker

            ok thanks. will try that and report back

            yeah, that's not the tart - you're right (I am using his book, but the link has most of the same info apart from the point about straight sides/overhang, which he shows in pictures in his book, where he's using a straight sided 18cm ring on a flat tray, so I used a sandwich pan to mimic this.

            However, I've now found a video of the man himself making his tart and he doesn't have the overhang he shows in the book!


            Will try freezing and no overhang and see what happens.

            BTW the filling in this tart is sublime:

            500ml (18fl oz) whipping cream
            9 free-range egg yolks
            75g (2┬żoz) caster sugar
            1-2 nutmegs

            Fill baked tart and bake 45 mins at 130C

            thanks so much all for the help - has been driving me nuts

            1. re: Roland Parker

              There are a couple of things that could be happening.

              The recipe calls for a flan ring, these are traditionally fairly short in height 1-2 cm (guessing at the conversion but mine are maybe 1/2 inch at most I would guess). I had to look up a sandwich tin, which looks from my search to be what I'd call in the USA a straight sided cake pan or some of the images were spring form pans.

              So your sides might be considerably higher than what this recipe is intended for, which would definitely facilitate slumping.

              The recipe calls for blind baking with parchment and beans. Are you doing that and is that when it is slumping? If that is case your sides are probably very high or there is some other issue going on.

              I always trim my tart crusts to the edge of the pan prior to backing. I do know some pastry folks that trim after the blind baking while the crust is still warm in case there is any shrinking and they want a perfectly flat side to their crust. This needs to be done while the crust is still warm and not over baked or it will crack on you every time.

              Hope that gives you somewhere to start trouble shooting.

        2. Maybe try a butter with higher butter fat % ?

          1. After you line the tin with the pate sucree put it into the freezer till it's frozen.

            Then bake it.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Roland Parker

              Have taken all the advice - froze it, less overhang, no fan and also filled with beans all the way to the top as in the video...

              no slumpy sides and no melting!

              thank you all so much for your help!

            2. I have been watching Michel Roux Jr videos on YouTube and wondered about the crust overhang. I assume it has to do with shrinkage and its a plus for me cuz I love the crunchies :)

              I think I'll try this technique as even with poking holes, chilling the dough and blind baking with parchment and weights I get shrinkage.