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1.5: Pastry Doughs

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    These doughs differ from the previous doughs in that they are not leavened. They have a more tender crumb and are usually used as a base to be filled such as tarts. The names of these are derived from the French and give indication to the texture of the finished product.

    Tart Doughs

    Tarts are made in shallow fluted pans. The doughs that are used have a tender crust, are made with butter and add to the overall flavor of the tart.

    The three main types are discussed below.

    1. Pâté Brisée - the French translation is broken dough. This name is based on how the dough is put together. The fat is combined with the flour in the same fashion that you would put together a mealy pie dough. The fat is rubbed into the flour until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. There should be visible pieces of butter. This allows the flour particles to be surrounded by fat thus hampering the formation of gluten resulting in a tender pastry.
    2. Pâté Scurée – the French translation is sugared dough. This dough has more sugar the pâté brisée. The extra sugar helps to keep this dough tender thus making it softer and harder to handle. It can be made using either the above method or the creaming method. The finished dough can be used for smaller tarts and pastries as well as a stand-alone cookie.
    3. Pâté Sablée – the word sablée in French means ‘sand’, which describes the finished texture of this dough. The recipes usually have more fat than the brisée and less egg, which lends it its finished texture. The most common method for this dough today is the creaming method.
    4. Short dough – this is a variation of the above doughs. These doughs are tender as well and that is because little gluten is formed during the making of the dough.

    Puff Pastry – this dough is a versatile dough that is made in the same fashion as Danish and croissants meaning that is it a laminated dough. The main difference is that this dough has no leavening agent. This dough is cooked at a high temperature thus creating steam from the layers of fat and dough. The steam causes the dough to rise at least an inch more than is normal size. The preferred fat for puff pastry is butter due to its mouth feel and flavor. There are different methods to make puff pastry but the more layers added as well as higher fat content of the recipe will give you a better rise and product.

    Makeup and Baking Puff Pastry

    It is important to know the proper use of the dough. If you do not handle it properly the dough will not rise nor will it give you the desired finish.

    1. Always used puff pastry when it is cool and firm. If it is soft the layers of the dough may stick together when cut thus inhibiting the dough from rising.
    2. Use a sharp cutter or knife and always cut straight down. Do not twist the cutters.
    3. Once the puff pastry is cut, transfer it to a baking sheet and flip it so that the cut edges are on the bottom. This allows for any layers that are stuck together to become the base of the puff and the remaining layers have the ability to rise.
    4. If you are using egg wash, make sure that it is only applied to the top. Avoid anything that will interfere with the side becoming sticky.
    5. It is wise to rest the dough once it has been cut to allow the gluten strands to relax and help prevent the dough from shrinking.
    6. If you decide to reuse the excess dough the press them together and laminate them with the 3 fold, creating more layers.
    7. Always bake the puff pastry at a temperature of 375 F to 400 F. The high heat is need to create the moisture that turns into steam that will cause the dough to rise.
    8. If you are baking large pieces of puff, you can start them at a higher temperature and once they rise, you can lower the oven to finish the cooking process.

    Éclair Paste

    In the industry it is referred to by the French name pâte a choux which means “cabbage paste” because once baked they resemble little cabbages.

    This is a cooked pastry dough that can be used in a variety of ways to create both sweet and savory baked goods. The way they are piped out will determine the name given to the finished product.

    The dough can be made in a few minutes and is usually used as soon as made. It will form a skin if allowed to sit without being covered with a damp cloth. Once made it should not sit without being used for longer than an hour.


    1. Bring the liquid, fat, salt and sugar to a boil on the stovetop. Make sure that the mixture is at a rolling boil. This allows for even distribution of the ingredients and ensure a proper mixing of the dough.
    2. Once at a rolling boil add all the flour at one time. Using a wooden spoon stir the flour until it has completely mixed with the liquid. As this happens, the dough will begin to pull away from the sides of the pot.
    3. As it pulls away continue stirring. This will cook the raw flour taste out and create a thin film on the bottom. Once this happens, remove the pan from the heat.
    4. Continue stirring the mixture. You will see the steam coming from the mixture. As it begins to cool, the steam will lessen. You are cooling the mixture to about 140oF. If you do not take the time to cool down the dough the eggs will scramble when added.
    5. Once the dough has cooled down you will begin to add the eggs a few at a time. As the eggs are added to the dough it will look like the dough is breaking – streaks of liquid egg and clumps of dough will be seen. Do not add any more eggs until the dough has come back together. Continue adding the eggs and allowing the dough to comeback together until all eggs have been added.
    6. The finished dough should be smooth and slightly slack but firm enough to hold its shape.

    NOTE: Each recipe is formulated with a specific amount of eggs. There may be some instances when you will have to either add an egg or not use all of the eggs scaled out. It will depend on the conditions at the time the dough is being made.

    Pastries made from pâte a choux:

    1. Cream puffs – small or large pastries piped out using a round tip. The size is determined by the dessert you want to make.
    2. Eclairs – can be made with the round tip also. They are piped out in a line and the size will depend on the tip and what they are needed for.
    3. Paris-Brest – they are piped using a star tip. The shape represents a bicycle wheel. The shape was created to honor the bicycle race from Paris to Brest which begun in 1891.
    4. Gougères – these are savory “cream puffs” while making the dough you can add herbs, spices and cheese to make it savory.

    Strudel and Phyllo

    These two types of dough are similar in structure. Once made they are very thin layers of pastry that is used for desserts by layering with fat that is melted and brushed on then layered with dough.

    Strudel – this dough is made from flour, water and eggs. It is then stretched thin over a floured cloth. The dough is so thin that you can see through it. Learning to stretch the dough take time, patience and skill.

    Phyllo - this is the Greek version of strudel dough. It is usually purchased commercially. The thin sheets of pastry are rolled together in a thin plastic covering. When working with you it is best to keep a slightly damp cloth over it to prevent it from drying out. The thin sheet is placed and then melted butter is gently brushed on covering the entire sheet. Another sheet then added and brushed with butter. This continues until the desired amount is reached.


    Egg whites and sugar are mixed into an airy batter. This is then piped out in various shapes depending on its use. Baked in the oven until dried. Although not a typical pastry it can be used in the same way as some pastries and as layers for cakes.

    This page titled 1.5: Pastry Doughs is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Tammy Rink & William R. Thibodeaux via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.