Of course I haven't got the answer – it's a case of 'horses for courses' – but this post is quite self indulgent because I have so many favourites that I waste a lot of time remembering what post I used what pastry base in, so I think pastry deserves a post of its own.
There is no need to worry about whether you should make a pâté sucrée or a pâtée sablé. The latter uses egg yolks only and depending on how rich you want your pastry to be (= how tricky it is to line a 28cm tart tin!) you should use a variation like this.
Pastry has five basic ingredients, so it's all about the proportions- Flour, unsalted butter, icing sugar, egg (whole or yolk only) pinch of salt. To those base ingredients I like to add some of the following – seeds of a vanilla pod, finely grated lemon zest (or other citrus fruit). I also mix it up a lot with flour, substituting nut flour, spelt flour, and cornflour.
A good mix of flour and nut flour is 340g flour to 40g ground nuts (hazelnuts are wonderful and ground almonds work well).
380g of flour may seem like an unusual quantity (it is!) but it make a good size tart and enough for a slightly smaller double crust. I like to make a couple of individual tarts with leftover pastry so that I can pop them in the freezer for later.
The 'rule' for cornflour is 1:3, so for every 300g flour add 100g cornflour. This makes your pastry very silky.
My 'go to' sweet pastry for many years was ( and remains ) 250g flour, 125g butter, 100g sugar, 2 egg yolks, pinch salt (with the addition of scraped vanilla pod seeds)
I usually make double quantities so that I can freeze half. If I am trialling and coverting an American cups (volume) recipe, this commonly coverts to a 380g flour recipe (i.e. 2 ½ cups) in which case I don't double up. This is a perfectly adequate amount for most tart tins and even smaller double crust tarts.
I always make my pastry in my Thermomix, you can use a food processor. Remember to use cold butter, cold water, cold hands…..you got the picture. Make good use of that kitchen wonder- cling film. Wrap it in cling film to rest in the fridge/ roll between cling film. Some bakers bake with cling film lining the tin- I haven't been successful with this one and I don't know whether it's an Aga issue or a type of cling issue.
If you want to do a chocolate pastry, just add 30g of good quality cocoa to 200g flour- perfect.
I recently came across Joy Wilson (of Joy the Baker fame) and her love of buttermilk pastry. Instead of eggs she adds 130g of cold buttermilk to the 380g flour, 230g butter, 30g sugar, 1 tsp salt. As you can see this pastry has a significantly reduced amount of sugar.
Do you have a favourite sweet pastry?