Sweet Pastry Crust:
1 1/2 cups (195 grams) all purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated white sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Sweet Pastry Crust: In a separate bowl, whisk the flour with the salt. Place the butter in the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, and beat until softened. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Gradually add the beaten egg, beating just until incorporated. Add the flour mixture all at once and mix just until it forms a ball. Flatten the pastry into a disk, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 15-30 minutes or just until firm (can place in freezer for about 10-15 minutes.)
Lightly butter and flour, or spray with a non-stick vegetable/flour cooking spray, an 8 - 9 inch (20 - 23 cm) tart pan with a removable bottom. Once the pastry has chilled sufficiently, evenly pat onto the bottom and up the sides of the tart pan. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Lightly prick bottom of pastry crust with the tines of a fork (this will prevent the dough from puffing up as it bakes). Place tart pan on a larger baking pan and bake crust for 5 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and continue to bake the crust for about 15 minutes or until crust is dry and lightly golden brown. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. If desired, seal the crust with an egg white glaze or apricot glaze. Can be covered and stored for a few days.
Egg White Glaze: Let the crust cool for about 3-5 minutes. Then lightly beat one egg white and brush onto the bottom and sides of the warm pastry crust.
Apricot Glaze: Heat 1/4 cup (60 ml) apricot jam or preserves in the microwave, or in a small saucepan over medium heat, until liquid (melted). Strain the jam through a fine strainer to remove any fruit lumps. Brush the warm glaze onto the bottom and sides of cooled pastry crust.
A Sweet Pastry Crust, also known as Pate Sucree, is a rich and sweet pastry with a crisp cookie-like texture. Once made, this pastry can be stored in the refrigerator for several days. You might also want to make an extra batch and pop it into the deep freeze, as it freezes so well. That way, when the urge hits, you can produce a quick dessert with very little effort. This Sweet Pastry Crust is ideal for making both large and small sized tarts, especially those filled with fruit and/or cream.
A Sweet Pastry Crust adds a little more sugar and an egg to your basic Pie Crust recipe. This gives the pastry a sweeter flavor and a softer texture. While it can be made in a food processor, I prefer to use an electric mixer, like I would a regular cookie dough. That is, beat the butter and sugar, then add the egg, and then mix in the flour. Then simply wrap the pastry in plastic wrap and refrigerate it just until it is firm (about 30 minutes in the refrigerator, 10-15 minutes in the freezer). I know pastry is normally rolled, but this pastry has the tendency to tear and crack, both when you roll it out and transfer it to the tart pan. While you can simply patch the tears, lately I have found it easier to just pat the pastry in an even layer over the bottom and up the sides of the pan. But first butter and flour the tart pan or spray it with one of those vegetable/flour cooking spray as this makes it easier to remove the sides and bottom of the tart pan once it is baked.
More often than not, this Sweet Pastry Crust is prebaked. Common practice is to line and fill the unbaked pastry crust with pie weights or rice before baking to prevent the pastry from shrinking and puffing up. But you can eliminate this step by putting the unbaked pastry crust in the freezer for 15 minutes. This sets the crust which prevents these problems. I do like to gently prick the bottom of the pastry before baking which also prevents the pastry from puffing up. Now, the pastry is baked at a high temperature for five minutes to set the crust and then the oven temperature is lowered and the pastry is baked until firm, dry, and lightly golden brown. Once the pastry shell has been baked, it is a good idea to 'seal' the crust. This 'sealing' prevents the tart filling from softening the crust over time. You can do this immediately by brushing the still warm crust with a little beaten egg white. Or you can spread a thin layer of warmed apricot glaze, or even melted chocolate, over the pastry once it has completely cooled. The unfilled baked pastry crust can be covered and stored for a few days before filling.