Sweet Shortcrust Pastry (Pâte Brisée) from Bourke Street Bakery

This version of pâte brisée from the Bourke Street Bakery ‘ The Ultimate Companion’ book produces a crisp, flaky and buttery pastry which is simply divine as an accompaniment to various sweet fillings. I wanted to include this in my vanilla crème brûlée tart entry (next post) but the instruction in the book was about  two whole pages long so I decided to create a separate entry since this sweet shortcrust pastry can be used as a base for a variety of sweet pastry desserts. I find that this recipe is time consuming compared to other pâte brisée recipes but the result is definitely worth it. The pastry success is subject to variables like using chilled ingredients, dough resting time and correct method of lining the tart tins or you risk massive pastry shrinkage in the oven. I have made this pastry three times; the first one was successful, the second was ok and the third was just a disaster! (i ended up with a flat piece of pastry instead of a tart shell), all using the exact recipe each time but I suppose I was missing the vital component in my third attempt. I call this ‘patience’. 😉

As this pastry contains water, it will have a tendency to shrink when baked because water evaporates when subjected to heat so in order to minimise or avoid this problem, resting and chilling the dough plus lining the tart tins correctly are of utmost importance.  I followed the Bourke Street Bakery guidelines as closely as possible and gave the pastry a lot of love and resting time and they turned out to be the best pastry I’ve ever made. Yahoo!!!

Ok, let’s begin…. 

Sweet Shortcrust Pastry (Pâte Brisée)
(adapted from Bourke Street Bakery, the Ultimate baking companion book)
makes 1 quantity (enough to line 20 x 8 cm tarts)

Note: I had enough leftover pastry (including offcuts) to line an 8 to 9 inch tart tin.
The book recommends loose-based tart tins with sides that are at an angle of 90 degrees to the base. This “offers more support than sloping sides and makes it easier to remove a fragile tart”. I did not own loose-based ones but I made sure I lined the cases securely and the pastry still came out great!


400 g  unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1.5 cm cubes
20 ml/ 1 tablespoon) vinegar, chilled
100 g caster (superfine) sugar, chilled
170 ml /(2/3 cup) water, chilled
665 g plain (all purpose) flour, chilled
5 g/ 1 teaspoon) salt


  1. Remove the butter from the refrigerator 20 minutes before you start mixing – the butter should be just soft but still very cold so it doesn’t melt through the pastry while mixing.
  2. Put the vinegar and sugar in a bowl and add the water, stirring well. Set aside for 10 minutes, then stir again to completely dissolve the sugar.
  3. If you are mixing the dough by hand, mix together the flour and salt in a large bowl and toss through the butter. Use your fingertips to rub the butter into the flour to partly combine.
  4. If you’re using an electric mixer, put the flour and salt in the bowl of the mixer and add the butter, pulsing in 1-second bursts about three or four times to partly combine.
  5. You should now have a floury mix through which you can see squashed pieces of butter. Turn out onto a clean work surface and gather together.
  6. Sprinkle over the sugar mixture and use the palm of your hand to smear this mixture away from you across the work surface (a pastry scraper is a useful tool to use for this step). Gather together again and repeat this smearing process twice more before gathering the dough again. You may need to smear once or twice more to bring it together – you should be able to see streaks of butter marbled through the pastry; this gives a slightly flaky texture to the final product.
  7. Divide the dough into two even-sized portions and shape into two round, flat discs about 2 cm (3/4 inch) thick. Wrap each disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. (I chilled mine for 2 hours. This is a really important step as it lets the gluten in the worked pastry to relax. When you knead the dough, gluten strands from the combination of flour and water is formed, if you overwork the dough, more gluten is produced and you will end up with a tough and hard pastry case, if you don’t let the gluten strands relax, the pastry will shrink during baking )
  8. Remove the pastry from the refrigerator 20 minutes before you wish to roll it. Sprinkle a little flour on the bench and rub a little flour over a rolling pin. Working from the centre of the pastry, gently roll the dough away from you, then turn the dough about 30 degrees and roll out again. Repeat this process until you have a flat round disc, about 3mm (1/8 inch) thick. Sprinkle extra flour over the bench and rolling pin as needed, but try to use it as sparingly as possible – if too much is absorbed into the pastry it will result in a dough with poor flavour and texture. Bear in mind that you are trying to flatten the pastry into a disc, not ferociously stretch it out in all directions as this will only cause the pastry to shrink excessively when baking.
  9. Transfer the pastry to a tray and place in the refrigerator, covered in plastic wrap, for at least 2 hours to allow the gluten to relax ( again, very important)
  10. Brush twenty 8cm (3 1/4 inch ) individual loose-based tart tins with a little butter. Cut the pastry using an 11cm (4 1/4 inch) diameter round pastry cutter. Place the pastry on top of the mould ensuring it is in the centre and use your fingers to gently push the pastry into the mould, moving around the rim until all of the pastry has been inserted – you should now have about 1 cm (1/2 inch) of dough hanging over the sides. Use your index finger and thumb to work your way around the edge, forcing the pastry into the mould so that little or no pastry is left protruding. Where  the upright edge of the pastry meets the base, there should be a sharp angle where it has been firmly forced into the corner – this method of lining the tin is to counteract the pastry shrinking once baked. Set the pastry cases aside to rest for at least 20 minutes in the freezer so that the gluten relaxes and holds its shape when you line it with foil.
  11. Once the tart has been lined and rested, preheat the oven to 200oC. Line the pastry with a double layer of aluminium foil, making sure the foil is pushed well into the corners. Pour in some baking beads or uncooked rice to fill the case and bake for 20-25 minutes. This is called blind-baking i.e. pre-baking the pastry before filling it to ensure the base is crisp and cooked through. If you own a pizza stone this will work perfectly, as long as it is heated well and the pastry tin is placed directly on the stone (I just placed my tart tins on a heated baking tray). The baking time will vary considerably from oven to oven. When cooked properly, the pastry should have a golden colour all over, particularly in the centre, which tends to be the last part to colour and become crisp. The tart shells are now ready to be filled.

pastry case lined with ceramic baking beads ready to be blind-baked

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5 comments to Sweet Shortcrust Pastry (Pâte Brisée) from Bourke Street Bakery

  • […] Sweet Shortcrust Pastry (Pâte Brisée) from Bourke Street Bakery […]

  • I have to say your cases don’t really look any thing like the Bourke street bakery, Yours look better, and did you mention to prick them with a fork, is that needed. yours look great, sometimes B/S bakery looks over cooked, great job..this is a very full on pastry recipe , i think I will buy mine from the shop and just fill them with the creme brulee mix..lol

  • Mei Sze

    Hi Levi,
    I think it’s the shape of my tartlet tins, they’re more slanted compared to the straighter edges of the ones used in Bourke Street Bakery. But I won’t deny this was quite a complicated pastry recipe and as mentioned it failed before when I wasn’t paying attention or being patient 😛 but the result is so worth it, so if you’re up for some insanely flaky, crisp melt in your mouth pastry, you can make a large batch of these and freeze the cases for future use.Good luck 🙂

  • Jen

    Hi, I’ve been experimenting with this recipe myself, and was just wondering whether you used the entire amount of sugar liquid when you were working the dough together? Mine ended up being quite sticky and I was wondering whether you may have encountered something similar? Yours look absolutely delicious! 🙂

  • Mei Sze

    Hi Jen,

    When working with most pastries, I always hold back the liquid amount ;adding a little at a time until I get the proper consistency where there might be some floury (dry) bits left and allows me to gather it up in a dough ball without being too sticky or wet. Always do this ( adding a little liquid at a time) despite what all the recipes say 🙂 Hope that helps! 🙂