Tarts are underrated. Why don’t people ever make tarts? I mean pies are a dime a dozen, but the humble tart is so often forgotten. What I love about tarts is that you have options. You can cook the fruit filling and have a delicious jammy treat (similar to a pie), but you can also use it as a vessel to enjoy fresh fruit in all its glory during those summer months.
I used to make tarts on the regular for my grandmother.
My grandmother was a dynamo. She was young at heart, and loved entertaining. She used to throw lavish parties for her friends on multiple occasions throughout the year, and would always have me bake tarts for dessert. It’s how I fell in love with them. I loved the simplicity of the ingredients, and the combination of flakey pastry, with creamy, fruit filled fillings.
These tarts make a great dessert that will definitely impress. Don’t be intimidated by working with a pastry dough. It is actually easier than people think to make, especially if you use a food processor. You just have to make sure you keep your butter in large enough chunks so that it can disperse throughout the dough in sheets which helps the flakiness of the pastry.
Top Tart Tips:
- Use COLD COLD COLD butter: I usually cut mine in cubes, and then freeze it for 20 minutes to firm up even more!
- DON’T over-mix! If using a food processor, the “pulse” function is your friend.
- Keep the butter chunks no smaller than a pea. If you are worried about overworking it, empty into a bowl and use your hands to pinch the pieces of dough into small pieces.
- Use COLD water: the real trick is to keep everything as cold as possible so the butter does not melt as you are working!
- Don’t add too much water! You want enough water that the dough holds together when you press it, but it should not be a wet dough. Always err on the side of caution. You can always add more, but you can’t take it away.
- Just go for it! The best way to become better at something is to keep doing it. The first tart I made, I over-mixed the butter, and it wasn’t super flakey. But add in some delicious filling and NOBODY will complain.
My Go-To Tart Dough RecipePrint Recipe
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons icing sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup cold butter, cubed
- 1/4 cup ice water
- zest of 1 lemon (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
In a food processor combine flour, icing sugar and salt. Pulse to mix.
Add the butter and pulse 7-8 times until the mixture forms large, coarse crumbs the size of large peas. ￼ ￼
Empty the mixture into a large bowl. Add the cold water and mix well. We do not want a wet dough, you might think there is not enough water added. Test by pinching pieces of the dough together. If it sticks together, there is enough water.
Start pressing the dough into a disc. If there are some dry pieces left, add 1-3 teaspoons more water as needed until it holds. Divide dough into 2 discs, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out 1 disc of tart dough to about 1/4 inch thick, and about 3 inches wider than the tart pan. As you roll, rotate the dough to prevent it from sticking to the counter, and add more flour to the bottom and top of your dough as needed to prevent sticking.
Place your dough into your tart pan by rolling the dough over the rolling pin, gently ease into the pan, coaxing the dough into the corners, and up the sides by pressing gently. Fix any holes that might appear with extra dough.
Allowing the extra dough to fall over the sides of the tart. Trim the dough to leave about 1 inch of overhang - this will help the sides not fall down when being baked.
Poke air vents in the bottom of the dough with a fork. ￼Freeze dough for 1 hour, or until you need it.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line tart shell with aluminum foil or parchment paper and place pie weights or dried beans inside to hold down the bottom and prevent it from puffing.
Par Bake: Bake from frozen for 6 minutes. Remove the pie weights and foil or parchment. Use your rolling pin to gently roll over the sides of the tart to remove the excess dough on the edge. Continue baking for another 6 minutes or until the pastry is opaque and not oily looking. Let cool completely before adding fillings and bake according to the recipes instructions. ￼ ￼
Pre-Bake: Turn down oven heat to 400 degrees F. Bake frozen tart shell for about 8-10 minutes before removing the weights. The bottom should be just set. Using your rolling pin, roll gently over the sides of the tart to remove the excess dough on the edge. Continue baking for about 8-10 minutes or until the tart shell is golden brown. Let cool before adding fillings.
Use tart shells with a remove-able bottom. Depending on your tart recipe, you will either need to fully bake your tart shell for tarts that have a non-baked filling (like pastry cream), or par-bake if your filling also needs to be baked.