Perfect sweet tart crust

July 1, 2019

Written By: Adriana

A perfect tart crust is a foundation for great desserts. You don't have to be a pastry chef (I'm definitely not) to make a beautiful and tasty one.

Tarts are my most requested dessert. If you learn to make those, you'll always have something amazing to bring to a dinner party or just have something fantastically delicious to eat with your family. (I just had a lemon curd tartlet with my coffee this morning and it was perfect.)

You'll also save some money too because the bakery ones can get expensive!

And honestly, homemade is better because you can fill and top it with whatever you like. My family loves them so much that we use them in place of birthday cakes all the time. (I guess that's how I learned to make them 😀)

It would be pretty lame if this site's name is "Tasty Pastry Kitchen" and there were no pastries of the tasty variety to be found.

So here it is: The Tasty Pastry! My favorite tart crust that I use in so many ways. It’s less fussy than pie dough, more delicious, and easily made ahead. I always have some in my freezer, and you'll see how I make it, create many desserts with it, and how easy it is to store below.

perfect sweet tart crust

This is my favorite tart crust recipe for a few reasons:

  1. Texture: it makes a tart crust that both crumbly yet stable. Because it must stand alone without a pan when served (unlike a pie crust) it has to have great stability. This crust accomplishes that with a great crumbly texture.
  2. Versatility: this tart crust recipe it is easily adaptable to flavors. Citrus flavors are great here, and just need some zest from an orange, lemon, or lime. For chocolate, simply sub out some of the flour for cocoa powder.
  3. Rollability: this crust is very easy to work with. I like to roll the crust in between sheets of saran wrap for large tarts. For smaller tartlets, I just pinch off some dough and shape it to little tartlet tins.

In general, this dough is relatively forgivable compared to other pastry doughs. Some recipes use a food processor to make tart dough, which serves to cut in the butter. However, I’ve found that I get great results using my stand mixer.

You can certainly use the food processor with this recipe if you like, I just think it’s easier to clean the mixer and poke my finger down into the open bowl to assess the dough’s progress.

✨ The two things I would pay attention to: first, the timing for mixing the dough, and second, the order in which you add ingredients. ✨

First, you want to combine the butter with the powdered sugar and salt until it is smooth and creamy. The butter here can be cold from the fridge, but doesn’t need to be ice cold like in pie dough. (We’re going for crumbly cookie texture here, not flakey crust.)

Then, you add in the flour, which coats the flour with fat. This in turn ‘protects’ the proteins in the flour from interacting with water, which if mixed to a certain point will turn into gluten, and make for a tough crust. You want to do this step for long enough until the dough looks like damp sand. Feel it with your fingers!

Finally, you add in your moisture with the egg yolk/milk (or heavy cream) mixture. This will give the dough the ability to form into a ball, which you then chill to further increase the crumbly texture.

There are a couple great ways to roll out tart dough. You can use a lightly floured surface to roll out your dough, but I prefer my saran wrap method. This method is great to try if you’re new at rolling out dough because it's also really easy to pick up and place into the tart pan.

Once you get your dough into the pan, I recommend chilling it in the freezer for at least 10 minutes. This, along with filling to the brim with pie weights, helps with blind baking because it helps the dough to cook in the shape of the tart pan.

This recipe is for a fully baked tart dough that you can fill with whatever you please: lemon curd, pastry cream, jam, or fresh fruit!


Would you like to see some things I've made with this tart dough? Here are some ideas for you:

fall-fruit-tart.jpg

I made this for a dinner party and wanted to make it fall themed, but it ended up looking more holiday-ish because of the pomegranate seeds and wreath design 🤷🏻‍♀️ It still tasted good! I filled it with my vanilla bean pastry cream.

Birthday Cream Tart

These are called cream tarts, but I think that name is really non-descriptive. You layer two shaped crusts and fill it with whatever you like. For my daughter's 5th birthday, I filled the tart with vanilla bean pastry cream and topped it with her favorite fruit and macarons. Added some sprinkles to make it look more festive 🎉

Birthday Cream Tart

For my son's 7th, I did the same thing as my daughter's cake above, but instead added lemon cream (lemon curd + whipped cream) to his tart. He loves any citrus desserts. 🍋

mini-tartlets.jpg

I wanted to do something special for the teachers at my son's school so I made them these tartlets for a teacher appreciation event: lemon cremeux with sugared blueberries tartlets and mint chocolate raspberry tartlets.

Autumn leaves tart

Oooh this was a good one: there's a layer of apple pie filling on the bottom and it's topped with a vanilla bean pastry cream. I wanted it to be like a slice of apple pie with ice cream on top. I then colored the leaves using egg yolk. Can you tell I was really into Fall when I made this tart?

When I don't have time to write a blog post or tutorial, I tend to post more of my spontaneous desserts on my instagram, so feel free to check there for more ideas.

I hope this gives you a bit of inspiration with this tart crust recipe - there are many ways to be creative with this dough.

If you want to see me make this tart crust, I've made a video tutorial for my pumpkin tart, and the beginning will show how I make the tart crust dough (with added orange zest), chill it, roll it out, and form it to the pan for blind baking.

Check it out here:

Here's the recipe ⬇️


Sweet Tart Crust

  • Prep: 15m + 1h chill
  • Bake: 20-25m
  • Total: 1h 45m
  • Yield: one 9 or 10" tart**

Ingredients

Ingredient Volume Grams Ounces
  unsalted butter, cold from the fridge, cut into TB chunks 1/2 cup (1 stick) 113g 4 oz
  powdered sugar scant 1/2 cup 53g 1.8 oz
  salt 1/2 tsp - -
  all-purpose flour (or pastry flour)* 1 3/4 scant cups 206g (for pastry 182g) 7.3 oz
  one egg yolk, from a large egg 3.5 tsp 18g 0.6 oz
  whole milk 2 TB 30g 1 oz

*For beginners, I recommend all-purpose flour. It has a higher protein content, which will make the dough much easier to handle when raw. If you're into the super crumbly texture, and can find it, by all means, pastry flour is excellent. I've used Bob's Red Mill Pastry Flour with great success.

**If you need smaller sized tarts, this recipe will make seven 4" tartlets, or about 25 hors d'oeuvres sized mini tartlets.

Instructions

1. To a stand mixer, add the butter, powdered sugar, and salt. Mix on medium-low speed until smooth and completely combined. Scrape down the sides.

2. Add the flour and turn the mixer on low. Mix until the butter is evenly incorporated into flour and feels like damp sand. This should take a minute or two.

3. Use a fork to mix the egg yolk and milk in a small bowl. Pour it into the mixer, and mix on low. Don't overmix at this point; you will form gluten strands in the dough, which will yield a tough tart crust when baked.

4. Feel the dough with your hands. It is done mixing when it feels very damp, contains no visible flour, and easily formed into a ball.

5. Place the dough onto some plastic wrap, and form it into a ball, and then flatten into a disc. Wrap it tightly and let it rest in the fridge for at least an hour.

6. When you are ready to bake, place rack in the lower third of your oven and preheat to 400 °F for large tarts (9"/10") or 375 °F for 4" tartlets and smaller tartlets. Roll out your dough by flouring the work surface or lining with plastic wrap until it is about 1/8-1/4" thick.

7. (If using tartlet pans, cut the dough into circles first using the tartlet pans as a guide about 1" larger in diameter.) Place the tart dough inside of the tart pan(s), making sure the dough is firmly against the sides. Use a fork to poke the bottom a few times. Freeze for at least 10 minutes or until completely frozen, then for large tarts only: line frozen tarts with parchment paper or foil and fill with pie weights/beans/rice.

8. For large 9"/10" tarts: Bake on a rimmed baking sheet for about 15-20 minutes or until the dough has hardened a bit, but is still very pale in color. Remove the weights and bake for another 5-10 minutes or until golden brown. For 4" tartlets and smaller tartlets: Bake on a rimmed baking sheet for about 12-15 minutes until the tart edges are golden brown and the bottoms are starting to turn brown. Cool completely before filling.

Storage. Tightly wrapped dough (up to step 5) keeps in the fridge for up to two days. Thaw at room temperature before rolling out to prevent cracking. You can can also store this dough in the freezer. Just put your plastic wrapped dough in a freezer ziplock bag for up to two months. Thaw in the fridge the day before you need them. I've baked crusts a day before serving and kept them at room temperature in an airtight container, just like cookies. I then fill and decorate the tarts the day that I plan to eat them.

Hi Everyone, I'm Adriana

... the nerdy baker behind the videos and recipes here. I coded this site to not only share my recipes with you but also to build some helpful tools for bakers.

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