Perfect Sweet Tart Crust

April 3, 2014

SOME DAY YOU WILL THANK ME for this tart crust. It’s easy to make, easy to roll out. And it tastes like a dream. A tender but firm, cookie-like dream.

You can use the baked crust for this Cranberry-Almond Tart

Or this Chocolate Ganache Tart

Or this Persian Lime Pie, which, in reality, is not a pie at all. It’s a tart.

The filling-possibilities are endless, baby.

Here’s the fail-proof recipe in photographic steps:

In a food processor outfitted with the metal blade, pulse together the following dry ingredients:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

Then dice up a stick of cold butter, and add it to the flour mixture. Pulse the machine 10 times or so, just to break up the butter. The product should resemble coarse meal.

Violently beat one large egg…

And then, with the machine running, slowly pour the egg through the feed tube.

Process until the mixture turns soft and clumpy — it will start to mass on the blade — 15-30 seconds.

And don’t worry about over-mixing. We’re not making a flaky pie crust. We’re making a firm, swoon-worthy, cookie-like crust.

Pour the clumpy mass onto your clean counter (I use a marble board). Then gather the dough together, and knead it for a moment just to insure that  any stray flour is incorporated. (Do not flour your work surface.)

Form the dough into a disc, and then wrap it in plastic.

Refrigerate for 2 hours (or up to 3 days). Or, freeze for 30 minutes (or up to 3 months).

To form the dough into a 9-inch tart shell, proceed as follows:

Set the pastry on a lightly floured surface.

Note: Because I’m measurement-challenged, I always roll out my tart and pie crusts on a plastic template. You can obtain a similar pastry-template at better kitchen supply stores, or you can order one from an online dealer.

Before you roll out the dough, soften it just a little. To do this, give it several firm whacks with your rolling pin. Then flip the dough over, and whack the other side.

And here’s my secret for avoiding cracked edges: Hold the the dough vertically, and gently mash the edge with a rolling pin.

Now roll the pastry into a 12-inch diameter circle…

Fold the circle into a triangle…

And then unfold it onto a 9-inch diameter, 1-inch high, removable-base tart pan.

Note: You do not have to grease your tart pan.  There’s enough butter in this dough to prevent it from sticking.

Fold the overlapping edges of the dough against the rim of the tart pan…

and use your thumbs to press the edge against the fluted rim.

Prick the bottom (not the sides) of the tart all over with the tines of a fork.

To insure the shell holds its shape while baking, cover it with a big piece of aluminum foil — shiny side down. Press the foil into the contours of the pan.

Fill the lined tart with two pounds of dried beans (or use proper pie weights).

This next step is extremely important: Freeze the shell for at least 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425°F., with the rack in the center position.

Bake on a baking sheet for 15-20 minutes, and then remove the beans and foil. Return the tart to the oven, and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes. The crust is done when it colors slightly, and its bottom and sides feel dry to the touch.

You can fill the shell at this point. Or, you can unmold it, and let it cool completely on a wire rack. It will stay fresh and wonderful for up to 24 hours at room temperature.

For longer storage, seal the pastry in a plastic bag, and freeze it.

In the comments field below, let me know if you might try this gorgeous tart crust some day. Again, it’s easy to make, and you won’t have any trouble rolling it out. In a pinch, you can always fill it with — please forgive me — instant pudding.

For your convenience, here’s a copy-and-paste version of the above:

Perfect Tart Crust
As made by Kevin Lee Jacobs
Ingredients for one 9-inch diameter tart
1 1/2 cups all purpose (or “plain”) flour
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick cold, unsalted butter, diced
1 large egg, beaten

Making the dough — Pour the flour, confectioners’ sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine. Add the diced butter, and pulse 10 times or so just to break the butter up. With the machine running, add the beaten egg. Process until the dough just begins to mass on the blade — 15-30 seconds. Dump the mass onto your clean (not floured) work surface, gather it into a ball, and then knead it briefly to insure all stray flour is incorporated. Form the dough into a disc and wrap it in plastic. Refrigerate for 2 hours (or up to 3 days). Or, freeze for 30 minutes (or up to 3 months).

Forming the tart shell — On a lightly-floured surface, roll the dough into a 12-inch diameter circle. Then center the dough on the tart pan. Fold the overhang inside the tart, pressing it with your thumbs against the rim of the pan. This way the sides of the tart will be thicker than the bottom. Prick the bottom (not the sides) all over with the tines of a fork. Place a big piece of aluminum foil over the tart, pressing it into the contours of the shell. Then fill with pie weights or beans. Freeze for 30 minutes or longer.

Blind-baking the shell – While the foil-covered tart is chilling, center the oven rack, and preheat the oven to 425°F. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or just until the crust is set. Transfer the tart to your work station, and remove the beans and foil. Return the shell to the oven, and continue baking until the crust colors slightly, and feels dry to the touch — 10-15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

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Comments

  1. Martha says:

    I CAN’T WAIT for your cookbook. Hope you’ll let us know the MINUTE it’s available. Thanks for sharing all your recipes with us. You’re wonderful!

  2. Nancy Jalaty says:

    Looks amazing! Ditto on the cookbook!

  3. Sharon says:

    What a perfect crust to make with the tart shell pan I got at my bridal shower!

  4. WDibelka says:

    What if you are a bigger tart?

  5. Erin M says:

    You are doing a cookbook??!!! Thank god.

  6. Hi WDibelka — If your tart pan is larger than 9 inches, you’ll need to increase the ingredients proportionately.

  7. Beverly, zone 6, eastern PA says:

    I wonder if a clear glass quiche pan with fluted sides would also work? Same size…

    This recipe seems very versatile. It’s a keeper.

  8. Sharon A says:

    This tart crust looks good enough to eat without filling! And Lemon mmmmm

  9. Nancy K says:

    Do you think you could use Gluten Free Perfect Flour Blend? same proportion of flour?

  10. Tiffany says:

    Nancy K: GF Perfect Blend Flour is “supposed” to be a cup-4-cup replacement for regular flour so am thinking it is worth a try as I am gluten free and use this same flour as well. Would use same amount of GF PB Flour as the flour recommended in the above recipe. Good Luck (to us both as I will use this flour as well in this recipe). Remember, this GF flour already has Xanthan Gum in the mix.

  11. Durelle says:

    Oh yes I do believe I will have to give this gorgeous tart a try! Your step by step pictorial makes it look easy and obtainable! Now I have a tart pan on my wish list.

  12. tracey says:

    Beverly: I have found glass dishes give you a soggy bottom (never a nice thing!!) I live in France and my French friends raised their eyebrows at my glass pie dishes..now I know why after several soggy bottomed quiches and pies – perhaps that helps?? Will try this tart today with the lemon filling, can’t wait! Thank you Kevin.

  13. WDibelka says:

    Kevin … I was making a joke. My tart pan is just the right size, but this “tart” is 6′ tall.

  14. laura says:

    Looks delish! Anyway to use a kitchen aid mixer? I don’t own a food processer.

  15. Hi Laura – I haven’t tried it, but I suspect you could make this tart crust with your standing mixer. Let the butter soften to room temperature, and use the paddle attachment. Let me know if this works out for you, okay?

  16. Mindi says:

    The tomato pie. Can I either make on Monday and freeze until sunday OR can I make a day ahead and rewarm before serving or will any of that cause it to be runny and crust soupy and soft? Last thought if above causes changes. Can I put it all together just leave in fridge Saturday and bake just before serving Sunday?

  17. Dorothy Armstrong says:

    I am going to try this recipe for pie crust, also some of the other recipes! They all look good! I am also waiting for your cook book to come out!

  18. Morgan says:

    Well, today’s the day I thank you for this, Kevin. Making this with your lemon tart for Easter dessert and so far the crust alone is BRILLIANT. Amazing flavor and texture. We baked the scraps as cookies and my Wife exclaimed: Oh, that’s sexy! Thank you for this recipe, and the timely reminder, Happy Easter!

  19. Tracy says:

    Thank you for the tart shell! It was loved by all Easter and will be used again.

  20. Jon Beattie says:

    What a great looking crust! And a cookbook??? Yes please. Sign me up!

    I look forward to your blog updates it give me reason to go outside and play, or stay inside and cook!!

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