My favourite Pate Sucree

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Growing up in Glasgow, American pastry crusts were not a part of my digestive repertoire. My grandmother used to make these whole wheat pastry crusts that would probably make American pie aficionados do the horror movie scream but to my British palate, with my love of all things stodgy*, was pie crust perfection– that which all other pie crusts for all eternity would be molded on and compared to. It was thick and heavy and held up the pie nicely without the need for a dish of any kind, and the pies were thin with a thin layer of filling, and the bite was just giving enough that it wasn’t crumbly and crunchy like a biscuit, but not soft either. Perfection.

After moving to the states, and after tasting some seriously delicious pies, I have come to appreciate the flaky American pie crust. Alas my heart, I think, especially when it comes to crusts, will always remain on the other side of the pond– the classic French tart crust just has the texture that I find myself looking for in anything that involves pastry. I like whole grain flours, because that’s what I always had growing up, but this recipe was adapted from one that used white flour, and I’ve made it with gluten free rice/ buckwheat/ flax flour too, and it’s just as delicious in any form.

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Simple Pate Sucree (adapted from Thomas Keller’s “Bouchon” cookbook).

11 tablespoons unsalted butter

3/4 cup sugar (I use rapadura** but you can use anything)

1 egg

2 pinches sea salt

1/4 tsp vanilla extract (I use a few drops of vanilla essential oil because it’s what I have on hand, and I think it might be so strong that it’s poisonous but I’m still alive)

2 cups flour (I use sprouted spelt flour, but you can use anything).

If you’re making it by hand, wait for the butter to soften a bit. If in a food processor then you can throw the butter in straight from the fridge– it softens really fast.

Mix butter until soft, then add the sugar and cream until smooth. Add the egg, and mix in again.

Add the salt, then throw in the flour (I think that the technical way is to add it bit by bit but I throw the whole lot in at once and it comes out great every time) and mix until the dough forms one big lump, and leaves the sides of the bowl clean (if it’s too sticky add more flour bit by bit until it comes together).

Scoop it all out and either refrigerate until using, or dust with flour and roll out immediately.

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*stodgy |ˈstäjē|
adjective ( stodgier , stodgiest )
1 dull and uninspired : some of the material is rather stodgy and top-heavy with facts.
2 Brit. (of food) heavy, filling, and high in carbohydrates.
• bulky or heavy in appearance : this stodgy three-story building.

**also known as Sucanat, ie, unprocessed evaporated cane juice.

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