Pate Sablee

Sweet, rich, delicate and flaky....

Pate Sablee is a sweet and rich pastry made with butter and icing sugar, flour and egg yolk. It's the best pastry to use for making little fruit tarts, lemon tarts and custard tarts. It also makes gorgeous cookies, not dissimilar to shortbread cookies, but finer and more delicate.

It's a little tricky to make and handle, but not that hard if you follow the directions. It keeps well in the fridge if made in advance.

As with all pastry, the less the dough is handled, the better. If you just use your fingertips when making this pastry, and if you are gentle, it flakes and melts in your mouth when cooked.

It's a real treat when used to make tarts - especially fruit tarts filled with creme patissiere and topped with raspberries or strawberries. The sweetness of the dough makes this a more suitable pastry for this than any other.

I love the plain cookies. We often serve them plain and straight from the oven. But they really do look stylish if you mark them with the back of a fork and brush them with coffee before you cook them.

The recipe below makes 30 cookies - but you could use half the quantity for making 15 cookies and use the other quantity to make some little tarts.

I often make up a batch of this pastry when we have a spare egg yolk and then have cookies several times during the week. The pastry keeps for a week in the fridge.

The cookies do not keep well. They should be eaten as soon as possible, and certainly on the same day.

Pate Sablee Recipe

Level: intermediate

125g (2/3 cup) plain flour
100g (1/3 cup + 1tbsp) butter
50g (scant 1/2 cup) icing sugar
1 egg yolk

  • Mix the flour and icing sugar together in a bowl.

  • Add the butter and rub in gently with your fingertips to make flaky crumbs.

  • Add the egg yolk and gently work together with your fingertips to form a dough.

  • Very gently knead the dough 2-3 times with your hand to form a ball.

You can now either use the dough straight away, or you can wrap it in clingfilm and keep it in the fridge for up to a week.

You can also freeze the pastry at this stage. It's a great way to get ahead at Christmas. You can roll out the pastry, put it in the tart tins, freeze them for a few hours, and then remove them and store them in a box or bag (double wrapped) in the freezer for up to 3 months. 

Pate Sablee Cookies

Makes 30 thin and delicate little cookies
Time: 20 minutes, not including cooling.

1 quantity of pate sablee (above)

  • Preheat the oven to gas mark 4, 350F.

  • Dust your work surface with a little flour and roll out the pastry to about 2mm thick.

  • Cut shapes with a cutter. I usually use a 2 inch fluted cutter.

  • Place the cookies on a tray lined with a sheet of baking parchment.

  • Either:
    Brush with egg glaze made from 1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon of milk.
    Make marks with the back of a fork and brush generously with coffee mixture. Make coffee mixture by dissolving 1 teaspoon of instant coffee in 1 teaspoon of barely warm water.

  • Bake in the oven for 8 minutes, or until lightly golden. Check after 7 minutes to make sure that they don't overcook.

Serve with

Little pate sablee cookies are delicious for a top notch delicate afternoon treat served with strawberries and cream and mini meringues. Try them in this case with hibiscus, jasmine or Earl Grey.

If you make tarts, they are wonderful as a part of a full afternoon tea spread. Try ´╗┐lemon tarts with ham sandwiches, lapsang souchong and buttermilk scones.