Sablé Breton is an old and versatile cookie. It is often used as a base for tarts or petit fours, but also works well for many other purposes. It is characterized by its salted butter flavor and crumbly or sandy texture. Sablé means sand in French. Breton refers to the region, Bretagne or Brittany, in France where the formula was created.
Sablé Breton is made with flour, salt, butter and eggs. Often, the salt used in this formula is already incorporated in the butter, known as beurre salé (or salted butter). These ingredients, particularly salt, have been important components of pastry in Brittany for a long time. Brittany was the only region that did not have to pay the la gabelle salt tax. La gabelle was in place from the Middle Ages up until the French Revolution in the 1780s. It was abolished for a few years after the Revolution, reinstated by Napoleon, and done away with for good in 1946. Brittany avoided this tax because the area has always been rich in salt deposits. Thus, pastry chefs in Brittany have never had to be too frugal with their salt or salted butter. For a long time in Brittany, salted butter was made on family farms.
“Sablé Breton remains inseparable from beurre salé which characterizes it,” says Chef Laurent le Daniel, M.O.F. Pâtissier (Master Craftsman in France), owner of Pâtisserie Le Daniel in Rennes, France and guest chef instructor at The French Pastry School. The first sablé formula possibly appeared in Sablé-sur-Sarthe around 1670, according to the letters of the Marquise de Sévigné. This town is located in the northern part of the Loire country, just west of Brittany.
Sablé Breton differs from other sablé doughs in a few ways. It is very buttery and the addition of baking soda makes the dough thicker. The formula provided features whole wheat flour and seeds for added flavor and texture. Sablé Breton makes great finger food and a lovely addition to buffets.
Chef John Kraus, pastry chef and instructor at The French Pastry School at City Colleges of Chicago teaches his students the art of pastry that includes advanced bread techniques. In 2005 and 2006, Chef Kraus was named one of the Top Ten Pastry Chefs in the United States by a national magazine. For more information on The French Pastry School, visit www.frenchpastryschool.com.
|Rye flour||5.3||150 g|
|Whole wheat flour||5.3||150 g|
|Confectioners' sugar||5.6||160 g|
|Baking powder||0.4||10 g|
|Butter, 82% fat||7.4||210 g|
|Whole eggs, fresh||2.1||60 g|
|Pale ale beer||0.2||6 g|
|Seeds, optional |
(pumpkin, sesame, poppy or flax)
|Total appr. wt.||2||2||960 g|
Method: Combine the cold, dry ingredients in a food processor; add the cold cubed butter, and mix until sandy. Add the fresh eggs and the beer, and mix until combined. Pulse 200 grams of optional seeds, such as pumpkin, sesame, poppy or flax, but do not break the seeds. Roll the dough to desired thickness, cut and bake at 300°F until golden brown.
Yield: about 30 pieces
1. Ensure the ingredients are cold before mixing. After completely mixing the other ingredients, add the seeds and pulse to incorporate. Do not chop.
2. Roll the sablé dough out to about 1/8 in. thick and refrigerate.
3. Bake at 300°F until golden brown. Bake the sablé until it is completely dry.
4. Garnish just before serving to ensure freshness. Garnishes may be either savory or sweet.
5. Suggested garnishes include red onions cooked in red wine, crème fraîche with fines herbes, capers and hardboiled quail eggs.