Pate (pat) is the French word for pastry. The French make pastry in a different way from many other methods. The flour is sifted on to a large board, or marble slab. A well is made in the centre of the flour and into the well is placed the butter, and the egg or egg yolk and sugar if used. The sugar used is either icing sugar, if a very soft dough is required, or castor sugar.

Using the fingertips of one hand, the butter, egg and sugar are first blended together. The flour is then gradually incorporated.’ As soon as all the flour is incorporated the fingers are cleaned and the dough is then lightly kneaded with the heel of the hand. As soon as the dough can be formed into a ball the kneading should stop, otherwise the dough will become sticky and hard to manage. For small quantities of dough, this blending movement should not be repeated more than about five times.

The dough is formed into a ball, wrapped in greaseproof or waxed paper and chilled in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, but preferably for 1 hour or longer, before it is used.

To roll out, place the dough on a lightly floured board or marble slab and roll out away from you with quick light strokes. Carefully lift the dough on the rolling pin and lay it over the pie or flan dish. This whole operation must be done as quickly as possible before the butter has a chance to soften. Once the butter has softened, the dough will stick to the board.

To bake the dough shell blind (for fruit tarts and flans), preheat the oven to fairly hot 375 CF (Gas Mark 5, 190°C).

Prick the base of the shell all over with a fork. Line the shell with aluminium foil or greaseproof or waxed paper and fill it with dried beans. Place the shell in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the shell from the oven and remove the beans and the foil or paper. Return the shell to the oven and continue baking for a further 5 minutes or until the pastry is lightly browned.

The best-known pates are: PATE SUCREE, a rich, sweet short pastry; Pate Brisee, which is made with the same proportions of fat to flour as ordinary SHORTCRUST PASTRY – sometimes with the addition of an egg; sugar can be added if a sweet pastry is desired; Pate Moulee, a type of shortcrust pastry often used for raised pies; PATE A PATE, similar to Pate Moulee but slightly richer; excellent as a crust for .

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