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How to Make Sablés Breton, Like You’re on ‘The Great British Bake Off’

All about this week's technical challenge.

November 19, 2021
Photo by Evan Sung

During the technical challenge of this week’s semifinals episode of ‘The Great British Bake Off,’ the remaining contestants were asked to bake Sablés Breton, which is a traditional French butter cookie. It was the toughest technical challenge to date. “Use your time wisely and remember that setting and chilling are very important,” advised Prue Leith, who chose this week’s challenge. But the contestants need to do more than bake a single dozen Sablés Breton tart cookies. As co-host Matt Lucas explained, the judges wanted the bakers to prepare a Sablé Breton pastry topped with a raspberry confiture and piped pistachio mousseline, filled with fresh berries, and decorated with gilded meringue kisses and chocolate pearls. All in under three hours.

“I haven’t got a clue what’s going on,” said Chigs. “The only works I understood were raspberry and pistachio.” If you too feel like Chigs and don’t know how to make Sablés Breton, let alone an over-the-top tart, read on.

How to Make Sablé Breton Tart

Prue Leith describes the Sablé Breton tart as a thick, not-too-sweet biscuit topped with a hidden layer of raspberry confiture (the French word for jam) and a piped pistachio mousse. The tart looks deceivingly simple, but there’s a catch—unlike more traditional tarts, there are no sides, which Prue predicted may confuse some contestants (and she was right). The pistachio mousseline also needs to be thick enough that it doesn’t run down the sides, but soft enough that it’s airy and easy to cut into.

The key to a good Sablé Breton—whether in the form of a cookie or tart—is using high-quality butter. The contestant comments on the fantastic butter sourced from Brittany, France that they used. “It’s important to not overwork the pastry tart dough,” said Crystelle.

As always, the technical challenge was judged blind. Across the board, the four bakers were criticized for creating a biscuit layer that was too thin and all were either over-baked or under-baked. Chigs pistachio mousseline was quite thin, which resulted in it loosely pouring down the sides of the tart, causing the pastry dough to become soggy. “Out of the 26 bakes, this was the worst one I did,” remarked Chigs, after the judges placed him last.

For home bakers who want to keep it simple, we’re sharing three recipes for Sables Breton cookies and tartlets so you can feel like a contestant on The Great British Bake Off, without worrying about being eliminated based on poor performance.

Sable Breton Recipes

Strawberry Tartlets with Breton Shortbread Crust

This shortbread crust is the real deal, made with butter (from Brittany, just like on The Great British Bake Off), blonde cane sugar, eggs, sea salt, vanilla bean, and flour. The dough is prepared, chill, and then cut into individual circles before it is topped with pastry custard and macerated strawberries.

Dominique Ansel's Go-To Vanilla Sablé Tart Shell

“A proper tart shell should be golden brown, uniformly thin, crispy, and have smooth, clean edges. When you bite into it, it should melt in your mouth as you chew,” says pastry king Dominique Ansel. We think Prue Leith would agree.

Lime Sablé Sandwiches

Buttery, sandy sablé cookies are the perfect bed for a white chocolate and lime cream cheese filling. Recipe developer Erin Jeanne McDowell tweaked the

Did you watch this week’s episode of ‘The Great British Bake Off?’ Do you think you would try baking your own sablé breton tart? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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Former Food52 Staff Editor

1 Comment

Lucie B. November 19, 2021
I think you meant raspberry “confiture”, (confiture de framboises in french).