Perfect Tart Crust Recipe
Perfect Tart Crust: buttery, just a little sweet, and tender as can be. This easy-to-make, basic dough will complement any kind of filling!
Fall is in full swing now, my friend! Soon we will be knee-deep in pies and tarts!
I figured, why not get ahead of it, and post one of the most useful recipes in any good baker’s arsenal: Tart Crust! I’ve been using this recipe for years, and it’s even a component of many of the recipes you’ll find on this website. Check out this Salted Honey Nut Tart, these Lemon Cheesecake Tarts, and this Rhubarb Tart, and you’ll see what I mean!
Tarts are fun to make, mainly because they’re so versatile. You can fill a tart crust in so many delicious ways!
But the pastry dough is step one. You want a recipe that’s easy to make, tender and a little crunchy, buttery, and not too sweet, to provide the perfect contrast. And this recipe is IT!
WHAT IS TART CRUST?
When you make a tart, the crust can be almost as important as the filling! You want to make sure that you have a sturdy base that provides a flavor contrast as well as a little bit of texture.
Tart crust is definitely it’s own kind of thing. It is buttery and a little sweet, and it has kind of a shortbread-like mouthfeel.
It’s not the same thing as pie crust. Pie crust, while also buttery and not too sweet, tends to have more of a flaky texture, while tart crust is more like a cookie. And honestly, tart crust is WAY easier to make! This dough comes together in about 10 minutes flat. You gotta love that!
HOW TO MAKE TART CRUST STEP-BY-STEP
Start by combining the dry ingredients: flour, powdered sugar, and salt. Just give them a quick stir.
Next, add the butter. It’s best if the butter is cold. If you’re using a food processor, just pulse it a few times until you have something that resembles coarse meal. This can also be done with a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or by hand with 2 knives (or one of my favorite tools: the pastry blender).
Once the butter is cut in to the dry ingredients, you can add the liquids. An egg yolk provides richness and structure, a little cream will help keep the dough workable, and vanilla extract is added for flavor.
As soon as the dough has gathered itself into a ball, stop mixing. If the dough is overworked, the tart crust could come out tough and it could also shrink a lot as it bakes.
Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, and chill for about an hour in the fridge, just to stiffen it up a little and make it easier to roll out.
WHAT SIZE PAN CAN THIS TART CRUST RECIPE BE BAKED IN?
Honestly, you can use this recipe for just about any size tart (within reason!). For the pictures and video you see here, I used a standard-sized 9-inch round tart pan with a removable bottom.
But it will also work with an 8-inch round pan, a rectangular tart pan, or even with a set of 6 mini tarts. Just roll the dough out to just an inch or two wider than the diameter of your cake pan. This is typically about 1/8-inch thick, but if it’s a little thicker or thinner that’s totally ok.
HOW LONG SHOULD THE TART CRUST BAKE?
Really, it depends. If you have a tart recipe, follow it. Sometimes tarts are baked filled, and sometimes just the pastry shell is baked, without the filling (this is known as “blind baking).
Just to give you an idea, the blind-baked tart shell you see here was baked for 20 minutes at 375 degrees F.
If you’re blind baking your crust, you might want to prick the bottom with the tines of a fork. This will prevent it from getting air trapped underneath and poofing up as it bakes. Sometimes it’s a good idea to place dry beans or pie weights in too, for the same reason. I didn’t do either of these things for what you see in these pics, and it was totally fine, but if you’re finding this to be a problem for you, give these solutions a try!
CAN THIS TART CRUST RECIPE BE MADE AHEAD?
I would recommend making the dough about an hour ahead. If you chill it much longer than that, it might become a little too stiff to work with easily. Of course, this can be remedied just by leaving it out at room temperature until it becomes a little softer.
You can also pre-bake the shell (unfilled), if your tart recipe allows for that. It will keep in a zip-top bag for a few days at room temperature, about a week in the fridge, and around a month or two in the freezer.
When you’re ready to assemble your tart, just thaw the pre-baked crust at room temperature, and fill!
Next time you’ve got the itch to make a beautiful tart, try this perfect tart crust recipe! It’s the perfect base to complement just about any kind of filling!
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- Place the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor, stand mixer, or in a medium mixing bowl.
- Pulse/stir/cut in the butter with a pastry blender, until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
- Add the egg yolk, cream, and vanilla, and process/mix/stir until the dough gathers itself into a ball and pulls away cleanly from the sides of the bowl.
- Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap, and chill for 1 hour.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to a thickness of about 1/8-inch.
- Press the dough gently into the tart pan(s), trimming away any excess.
A few other great crust recipes: