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rodyan

Tart crust cracks in half when cut

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Hello all,

When I making tarts with pate sucree, I blind bake the crust as directed . And when I cut the tart, the dough cracks in the middle in two or more halves. This doesn't happens when I don't blind bake the crust.

Absolutely not happy about this as these tarts are planned to be for sale (well, one day).

My guesses:

1. Too long to blind bake? I am aiming nice light caramel color of the dough. Even though the sides are browning faster than the bottom.

2. The crust is too thin (I usually make it about 4 mm or 0.15748 inch thick, as directed as well!) and perhaps it over dries? My bottom crust looks like this: http://parispatisseries.smugmug.com/Pastries/Paris-Patisseries/i-MKpx3RQ/1/XL/lapatisseriedesrevestartecitron4-XL.jpg

But sides are much thinner (also 4mm)

Your suggestions?

p.s. I made Tarte Au Citron by Jacques Genin and a fruit tart with pastry cream.

I brushed the second one with chocolate before filling with pastry cream as I was afraid that the crust would become soggy, however it was my mistake, the crust was dry already and the chocolate made it overly dry as didn't allow any moisture to go in. As a result it didn't went well with pastry cream: harsh crust + subtle cream. Nah.

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Pâte Sucrée is very often a dough similar to a sugar cookie, shortbread or sable. -If cut and baked, and maybe iced, you'd call it a cookie; made with the creaming method. This is what I was taught to call sucrée in culinary school. Some authors use the term for a lightly sweetened pie crust type dough, made with the cut-in method. Knowing which type you are attempting would be useful.

It sounds like too much gluten development. Dryness shouldn't be an issue, one always wants a dry crust as no one likes a soggy bottom. Most crusts should be flaky or crumbly when cut, because the dough is 'short' without much gluten.

Are you using pastry or cake flour? (AP flour varies in gluten content by region in the US, in the North and West, it's almost bread flour. In the South, it's almost cake flour, because it's mostly used or biscuits.) In some regions, AP flour is very high in gluten.

Is your work area cold, 72°F or less? Is you fat worked in cold? Are any liquids added cold? If you have 'hot hands' are you wearing gloves?

Are you mixing and rolling as little as possible?

Are you resting the dough in the fridge after rolling out and after cutting?

All of these things affect gluten development. Without watching every step, or knowing the recipe, it's hard to say where things are going wrong.

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What Lisa said. It sounds like your pastry is tough, like you may be torturing it with the rolling pin. Gently. Bring it to a rolling texture in a cool kitchen so you don't have to beat it to death. Also, your pic does look a bit crumbly, like a shortbread-type tart dough. This is sturdy for small tarts with heavy fillings especially, and in general is easier and more forgiving to work with, but any pastry suffers from overworking.

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Pâte Sucrée is very often a dough similar to a sugar cookie, shortbread or sable. -If cut and baked, and maybe iced, you'd call it a cookie; made with the creaming method. This is what I was taught to call sucrée in culinary school. Some authors use the term for a lightly sweetened pie crust type dough, made with the cut-in method. Knowing which type you are attempting would be useful.

Yes, that is Pâte Sucrée I am working with. Creaming method and when baked, the crust is like a cookie, quite fragile, breaks easily. I used Pierre Herme recipe for my fruit tart and Jacques Genin's for my citron tart.

It sounds like too much gluten development. Dryness shouldn't be an issue, one always wants a dry crust as no one likes a soggy bottom. Most crusts should be flaky or crumbly when cut, because the dough is 'short' without much gluten.

Hmm, so perhaps that is what it should be, and that is just me, who expects something else?

Are you using pastry or cake flour? (AP flour varies in gluten content by region in the US, in the North and West, it's almost bread flour. In the South, it's almost cake flour, because it's mostly used or biscuits.) In some regions, AP flour is very high in gluten.

Yes, I use cake flour. But I'm not from U.S. so I trust the label on the package..

Is your work area cold, 72°F or less? Is you fat worked in cold? Are any liquids added cold? If you have 'hot hands' are you wearing gloves?

Well.. I wouldn't say so, I use regular kitchen table, air temp is around 75F. Recipe states to use room temperature butter, cream all ingredients and then add flour, quickly mix and put to the fridge for 2h. Then roll the dough and fridge again. Then put the dough to the form and then fridge overnight. So I am working with cold dough and not really touching it a lot, except when putting it to the form, and only with my fingertips (well, I hope). But this may be the issue?

Are you mixing and rolling as little as possible?

Yes

Are you resting the dough in the fridge after rolling out and after cutting?

Yes

All of these things affect gluten development. Without watching every step, or knowing the recipe, it's hard to say where things are going wrong.

Here is the recipe

original:

http://www.lefooding.com/la-toquera/toquera-101-la-tarte-au-citron.html

translated

http://artfulfood.blogspot.com/2012/06/jacque-genin-lime-tart.html

I did all what was stated.

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What Lisa said. It sounds like your pastry is tough, like you may be torturing it with the rolling pin. Gently. Bring it to a rolling texture in a cool kitchen so you don't have to beat it to death. Also, your pic does look a bit crumbly, like a shortbread-type tart dough. This is sturdy for small tarts with heavy fillings especially, and in general is easier and more forgiving to work with, but any pastry suffers from overworking.

I wouldn't say it is tough, it is more like cookie, very fragile and dry, breaks easily.. I am trying to work with it as little as possible, plus it is extremely hard (nearly impossible) to work with warm pate sucree, and it warms very quickly! So I try to be very careful.

The picture is not mine, sorry for confusion. It is just for showing the "thickness" purposes..

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That's not a traditional recipe there, the almonds don't help it hold together (they get crispy when baked) and the cornstarch in the icing sugar is partly causing your problem. I'd start with the basic plain recipe first to get an idea of what it's supposed to be like.

Also, you never touch dough when placing it in the tart pan or flan ring. You use a tart tamper or, for minis, a mini tart tamper. Hands are warm and constantly giving off small amounts of steam which helps gluten development and can ruin pastry texture. Also, pressing with the fingertips pulls the dough unevenly which can lead to uneven baking.

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Thank you, Lisa, apparently both recipes I've got uses same ingredients (almonds + icing sugar).

What basic recipe would you suggest to use for pâte sucrée?


Edited by rodyan (log)

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Here's a basic formula:

250g Butter

100g Sugar (regular, granulated)

2g Salt

2g Grated Lemon Zest

4 drops Vanilla Extract

---

100g Eggs, Beaten

-----

400g Pastry Flour

-Creaming method: add the eggs a little bit at a time, mixing well between each addition, barely mix in flour, use your bowl scraper to do the final folding-in of flour. Chill until firm and chill after each time you work it.

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That's not a traditional recipe there, the almonds don't help it hold together (they get crispy when baked) and the cornstarch in the icing sugar is partly causing your problem. I'd start with the basic plain recipe first to get an idea of what it's supposed to be like.

Also, you never touch dough when placing it in the tart pan or flan ring. You use a tart tamper or, for minis, a mini tart tamper. Hands are warm and constantly giving off small amounts of steam which helps gluten development and can ruin pastry texture. Also, pressing with the fingertips pulls the dough unevenly which can lead to uneven baking.

Lest anyone think that the mini tart tamper is a ridiculous gadget because that one is from Pampered Chef (who, to be fair, do a pretty good line in ridiculous gadgets) - they are really so insanely helpful. When I lived in the UK I would often make large batches of mincemeat pies for friends and family using muffin tins (better crust-to-filling ratio than in a shallower tart shape) and when I got a properly sized tamper it was like night and day - the crust always came out perfectly and with no weird thin spots because I accidentally poked too hard with a fingertip here, etc. Plus it's so much faster in my experience because there's less fiddling around - the tamper pushes the dough evenly into the pan and since the force on the dough is pretty uniform if you have a large enough tamper, the dough isn't nearly as inclined to tear.

That was using a crust recipe which, while not labeled pâte sucrée, sounds quite similar.

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I use the flat bottom of a narrow juice glass to tamp. Works like a charm, and you can chill it.

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I use the flat bottom of a narrow juice glass to tamp. Works like a charm, and you can chill it.

That usually works out ok. But, commercial kitchens avoid using glass for tasks like this because if your hand slips and it falls and breaks, not only does the whole kitchen immediately have to be cleaned from top to bottom, any food that is out or open (on prep areas, on the steam table, on the stove cooking, on speed racks cooling, on the pass waiting for a server, bins with lids off for a moment) has to be tossed out. The OP is trying to teach herself professional baking, and it's probably best that she work with equipment used in a professional kitchen.

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I use the flat bottom of a narrow juice glass to tamp. Works like a charm, and you can chill it.

That usually works out ok. But, commercial kitchens avoid using glass for tasks like this because if your hand slips and it falls and breaks, not only does the whole kitchen immediately have to be cleaned from top to bottom, any food that is out or open (on prep areas, on the steam table, on the stove cooking, on speed racks cooling, on the pass waiting for a server, bins with lids off for a moment) has to be tossed out. The OP is trying to teach herself professional baking, and it's probably best that she work with equipment used in a professional kitchen.

My tamper thing is smooth metal, so it could be chilled if desired I imagine. Got it in the uk, can't remember where.

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Thank you all for your advises and help!

Getting back to original question, I understood the answer was over development of gluten due to warmth and untraditional recipes.

OK, will give Lisa's recipe a go and will report after.

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Here's a basic formula:

250g Butter

100g Sugar (regular, granulated)

2g Salt

2g Grated Lemon Zest

4 drops Vanilla Extract

---

100g Eggs, Beaten

-----

400g Pastry Flour

-Creaming method: add the eggs a little bit at a time, mixing well between each addition, barely mix in flour, use your bowl scraper to do the final folding-in of flour. Chill until firm and chill after each time you work it.

Lisa, do you know the weight of the final dough? About 1kg?

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Here's a basic formula:

250g Butter

100g Sugar (regular, granulated)

2g Salt

2g Grated Lemon Zest

4 drops Vanilla Extract

---

100g Eggs, Beaten

-----

400g Pastry Flour

-Creaming method: add the eggs a little bit at a time, mixing well between each addition, barely mix in flour, use your bowl scraper to do the final folding-in of flour. Chill until firm and chill after each time you work it.

Lisa, do you know the weight of the final dough? About 1kg?

Looks like about 855g.

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I disagree. Pâte sucrée tends to be much more forgiving in terms of gluten than any other tart pastry. The problem is possibly the thickness (4mm is really thick, for most tarts you want around 2mm) or that you haven't rested it enough.

Rest it for 24 hours, then roll it out. So much easier.

I use a different recipe, stolen when I was an apprentice. It uses egg yolks only, plus milk, and gives a great texture. It's also really easy to work with.

Ingredients:

Flour 400g

Butter 200g

Egg yolks 120g

Icing sugar 70g

Milk (lukewarm) 30g

Salt 8g

1. Sift flour onto a large piece of greaseproof paper.

2. Warm butter until very soft (almost liquid, but without breaking the emulsion).

3. Whip butter until white.

4. In a separate bowl, combine egg yolks and icing sugar. Whip until pale and creamy.

5. Incorporate milk and salt.

6. Pour the egg mixture into the whipped butter, and whisk to fully combine. Scrape the bottom of the bowl to ensure everything is homogenous.

7. Pour the sifted flour into the butter mixture.

8. Mix with a wooden spoon (or mixer paddle) until fully combined. Scrape the bottom of the bowl again.

9. Scrape onto cling film, wrap, press flat and refrigerate for at least one hour, preferably overnight.

10. Knead gently until pliable. Roll out to the thickness of a £1 coin.

11. Cut a circle around 2cm larger than your tart circle/tin in the pastry.

12. Line the tin, ensuring you've pushed the dough into the bottom edge all the way round (to avoid the sides collapsing in the oven). Refrigerate for 20 minutes.

13. Preheat the oven to 180°C.

14. Remove the dough from the fridge and trim the edges with a paring knife. Prick the base with a fork.

15. Bake for 12-18 minutes, until lightly golden. Leave to cool before unmolding.

It gives you something like this:

Lemon tart.jpg


Edited by jmacnaughtan (log)
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I've never found pate sucree difficult to work with if properly chilled and not handled much. It just isn't applicable for many of the tart shells/pie crusts that I need. I'll make it for a specialty tart with pastry crème, but in general it is so rich that it is unbalances the fruit tarts we like.

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Great! Thanks a lot!

How do you find it when cutting, is it crunchy like a cookie or a bit soft? Mine is crunchy and it tends to break through the whole pie (bye bye runny filling). And you say it is too thick and thus not gentle enough, ok will give 2mm a go!

I disagree. Pâte sucrée tends to be much more forgiving in terms of gluten than any other tart pastry. The problem is possibly the thickness (4mm is really thick, for most tarts you want around 2mm) or that you haven't rested it enough.

Rest it for 24 hours, then roll it out. So much easier.

I use a different recipe, stolen when I was an apprentice. It uses egg yolks only, plus milk, and gives a great texture. It's also really easy to work with.

Ingredients:

Flour 400g

Butter 200g

Egg yolks 120g

Icing sugar 70g

Milk (lukewarm) 30g

Salt 8g

1. Sift flour onto a large piece of greaseproof paper.

2. Warm butter until very soft (almost liquid, but without breaking the emulsion).

3. Whip butter until white.

4. In a separate bowl, combine egg yolks and icing sugar. Whip until pale and creamy.

5. Incorporate milk and salt.

6. Pour the egg mixture into the whipped butter, and whisk to fully combine. Scrape the bottom of the bowl to ensure everything is homogenous.

7. Pour the sifted flour into the butter mixture.

8. Mix with a wooden spoon (or mixer paddle) until fully combined. Scrape the bottom of the bowl again.

9. Scrape onto cling film, wrap, press flat and refrigerate for at least one hour, preferably overnight.

10. Knead gently until pliable. Roll out to the thickness of a £1 coin.

11. Cut a circle around 2cm larger than your tart circle/tin in the pastry.

12. Line the tin, ensuring you've pushed the dough into the bottom edge all the way round (to avoid the sides collapsing in the oven). Refrigerate for 20 minutes.

13. Preheat the oven to 180°C.

14. Remove the dough from the fridge and trim the edges with a paring knife. Prick the base with a fork.

15. Bake for 12-18 minutes, until lightly golden. Leave to cool before unmolding.

It gives you something like this:

attachicon.gifLemon tart.jpg

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