Tarts are always a favorite dessert, they are simple and at the same time rich and decadent. With a great variety of fillings, tarts can go from fruity to creamy to savory. Here's the thing, in order to make a delicious tart, you need a great crust and today I am sharing How to Make an Easy Shortcrust Tart Dough, the perfect crust for your favorite tart filling.
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You've seen those beautiful tarts in the pastry cases at bakeries, well I am here to tell you, that you can make your own quick shortcrust pastry dough at home, it's easier than you think.
- What is a shortcrust?
- Types of shortcrust pastry dough
- Dough ingredients
- How to make pastry dough
- Standing mixer method
- Mixing dough by hand
- Mixing dough with a food processor
- Let's roll some dough
- Chill the dough
- What is blind baking?
- How to Blind Bake a Shortcrust Tart Dough
- Why do you weigh down the dough?
- Shortcrust Mixing Tips
- Make-ahead tip
- Equipment to make a tart dough
- Tart FAQ's
- More pies and tarts
- Mixing dough by hand
- Mixing dough with a food processor
What is a shortcrust?
Shortcrust means the gluten strands in this type of dough have been shortened which creates a tender crust that is also crumbly as opposed to the elongated strands of gluten in bread dough that create the airy, chewy texture.
For the pastry dough, the term "short" means a crumbly and flaky pastry that has a higher proportion of fat to flour with a crust that is crisper and less chewy. A shortcrust is also known as short pastry.
Our favorite Chocolate Ganache Tart is made with this homemade pastry dough and it holds up beautifully with the heavy ganache filling. It is the perfect tart crust for this dessert.
Types of shortcrust pastry dough
There are three basic shortcrust pastry doughs with fancy French names that are fun to say but they are all pastry doughs that are easy to make.
Pâte brisée - (brisée means broken, which refers to the pieces of butter) This is similar to American pie dough with flour, fat, salt, and water, but pâte brisée contains a small amount of sugar and more butter than regular pie dough that bakes into a golden crust that has a finer crumb than pie crust. This is a delicious dough to use for sweet and savory tarts and quiches.
Pâte Sucrée -(this means sweetened dough) this sweet pastry dough contains flour, butter, sugar, cream, and egg that makes the dough a bit crumbly. Pâte sucrée is a great dough for sweet tarts and is the pastry dough we are making today.
Pâte Sablée -(means sandy) this is a very crumbly rich dough made with egg and more butter and sugar than pâte sucrée. This dough can be difficult to work with but worth making for the wonderful taste and texture.
Chocolate Shortcrust Tart Crust - This chocolate Pâte Sablée has a deep chocolate flavor and a crispy crust, a perfect pastry dough for fruit and creamy fillings.
If you are wanting to make an old-fashioned homemade pie dough make sure to read the One Hot Oven post on How to Make A Flaky Pie Crust. This is the recipe I use for all my pies and it is easy and tasty.
"There is such simplicity in making tart dough from the ingredients to mixing the dough to the baking"
Flour - for this recipe you need plain all-purpose flour.
Egg yolk - using an egg yolk enriches the dough and helps bind the flour and butter.
Powdered sugar - I prefer using powdered sugar for a sweet pastry dough over granulated sugar since it gives the dough a more tender texture. Using granulated sugar makes the dough more crumbly.
Cold butter - Cold, cold, butter is always necessary when making pastry dough. On warm days pop the cubes of butter in the freezer for a few minutes before incorporating it into the flour. The butter will also coat the flour to inhibit gluten formation.
Vanilla - I am a vanilla lover, what can I say! It adds just a hint of distinctive flavor to this sweet dough. You can leave this out, but why?
How to make pastry dough
Making pastry dough can be intimidating, but basic tart pastry doughs are quick and easy to make with just a few basic ingredients and a tart pan. Sweet shortcrust doughs are not like pie crusts that are super flaky, this type of tart crust is almost like a shortbread cookie that's crumbly, and the taste is rich in flavor from the sugar and egg yolk.
Tarts come in all shapes and sizes but when you want to serve a large dessert tart using the classic 9 ½" tart metal pan and this easy shortcrust tart dough recipe will give you the best results. Tart pans have removable bottoms so you can easily take the tart out of the pan to make it easy to cut and also to show off the pretty fluted straight sides.
When it comes to actually mixing the tart dough there are several ways to do it and they will all come out perfect. My preferred method is using my mixer.
Standing mixer method
Fit the bowl of a stand mixer with the flat paddle and mix in the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl. Add small cubes of cold butter and beat on medium-low speed until the texture resembles coarse cornmeal, with butter pieces no larger than small peas.
Mix the egg yolk, cream, water, and vanilla together in a small bowl, then add this egg mixture to the butter mixture and beat on medium speed just until the dough pulls together.
When mixed, turn the dough out onto a floured surface.
At this point, you can immediately roll the dough and fit it into the tart pan or wrap it in plastic and let chill. If your kitchen is warm, chilling the dough before rolling is a good idea.
Mixing dough by hand
No food processor or mixer is required. In a large mixing bowl add the flour, sugar, and salt. The next step is to cut the butter into the flour with a pastry cutter or two knives until the butter is broken down and the texture resembles small peas. Mix the egg yolk, cream, water, and vanilla together and mix into the flour and butter with a fork just until the dough pulls together.
Mixing dough with a food processor
Add the dry ingredients to the food processor. Add small cubes of cold butter and pulse until the flour-coated butter is the size of large peas, approximately 6-8 pulses. Mix the egg yolk, cream, water, and vanilla together then add the beaten egg mixture one tablespoon at a time, pulsing one time after each tablespoon until the dough holds together when squeezed.
Let's roll some dough
If you have chilled the dough, let it sit for 10 minutes before rolling.
Step 1. On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough into a large round, about 12" Place the tart pan on top of the rolled dough to make sure it is large enough to fit up the fluted sides of the pan.
Step 2. Place the floured rolling pin on one edge of the dough and gently roll the dough around the rolling pin then move it to the edge of the tart pan and unroll the dough.
Step 3. Press the dough into the tart pan and up the sides of the pan. You may need to slightly lift the edge of the dough and let fall back in the pan to make it fit.
Step 4. Once the dough is in the pan take the rolling pin and roll over the top of the pan to remove the excess dough.
Step 5. With a fork press the tines into the bottom of the butter pastry dough which will allow venting during baking. This process is also called docking the pastry.
Chill the dough
Once your pastry dough is fitted in the tart pan let it chill for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator or 5 minutes in the freezer. This is really important and helps the gluten relax in the dough so the dough will not shrink, and chills the butter. This means a great-looking tart dough.
What is blind baking?
And why do you blind bake?
- Blind baking just means to bake the tart crust without any filling. The baking will cause the crust to dry out so the filling will not make the crust soggy.
- Fully blind baking is used for cream fillings that do not require further baking so the crust is totally baked before adding a filling.
- Partial blind baking is used when the tart filling needs a short bake time and this guarantees the crust will be fully baked, and it also helps keep the crust from getting soggy with certain fillings.
How to Blind Bake a Shortcrust Tart Dough
I promise no blindfolds are needed.
It would be lovely if you could just put the tart dough in the oven and bake it, but I guarantee a pastry dough disaster will happen. Once the tart is in the oven the heat will create steam which is good for flaky pastry dough layers, but bad at the same time, because the steam will puff up the tart dough as it bakes and causes the sides of the tart to collapse and the tart will just look puffy and bubbly.
But fear not because there is an easy way to bake your tart dough and have it come out golden brown and looking like a tart.
Step 1. With a fork prick the bottom of the pastry dough in the tart pan. This allows the steam to escape.
Step 2. Cover the bottom of the tart with a sheet of parchment paper that is cut larger than the pan. Press the paper into the pastry dough so the edges of the parchment stick up over the rim of the tart pan. Now fill the pan with sugar almost to the rim. Spread it out so the sugar is pushed into the sides of the tart, this will keep the edges upright during baking.
Why do you weigh down the dough?
To keep the tart doughs' shape while baking you need to weigh it down. My preferred method is to weigh it down with sugar. Simply take a piece of parchment paper and cut it into a circle larger than the tart pan.
What happens if you don't weigh down the dough? All kinds of ugly things can happen. Your dough will shrink, the edges could fall over and quite possibly a giant bubble might form in the middle of the dough. Honestly, I have prebaked doughs and didn't weigh them down and they came out beautifully, but then I've had massive pastry crust failures from not doing it, so I have learned, just weigh the dough down.
Step 3. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. and bake the tart dough for 30 minutes then remove from the oven and scoop out the sugar until it is easy to pick up the parchment paper with the remaining sugar. All of this sugar can be put back into your sugar canister and reused.
If it is easier for you, put the tart pan on a baking sheet to move it to and from the oven.
Shortcrust Mixing Tips
One of the best ways to make a delicious pastry dough that is tender, flaky, or crumbly is to keep the ingredients cold. A good pastry rule is to keep the butter, cream, and egg in the refrigerator until you need them. Using warm ingredients can cause the butter to melt into the flour and cold water isn't absorbed into flour as fast as warm water.
Watch how much liquid is added since too much will make the dough tough.
The tart dough can be made and frozen for up to 1 month. To freeze, place the disk of the dough on plastic wrap and wrap well, then wrap in foil.
Equipment to make a tart dough
The 9 ½ inch tart pan has a flat removable bottom, the tart tin is nice and sturdy and does not warp. A perfect pan for tarts.
Of all the equipment I have in the kitchen, I find I use my KitchenAid Mixer the most. If you are a baker use the mixer to make all kinds of doughs, cakes, and frostings.
I threw away all of my rolling pins once I tried this French Rolling Pin. French rolling pins give you more control when rolling since you are not relying on the side handles to roll with because the pressure is applied directly to the pin, this makes all the difference in rolling doughs.
Cloth Rolling Mats are great for rolling out all types of doughs since the surface is not very sticky and the dough stretches better on the cloth. When you are done rolling any dough just scrape off the flour, fold up the cloth, and store it in your freezer. I have one for chocolate doughs and one for plain doughs.
Yes, a shortcrust is considered a type of pie dough, but this recipe does have a firmer texture than a regular pie crust recipe.
For any type of liquid type filling, like a custard or a fruit filling, you should pre-bake the pastry to keep the crust from turning soggy.
For a sweet shortcrust pastry add a cream filling or fruit filling. Unsweetened shortcrusts are perfect for quiches and other savory fillings.
You can. However, I am not a fan of pie weights because you need a lot to fill up the pie or tart shell to keep the sides from slumping down. Pie weights are expensive and it will take quite a few sets to do the job. I prefer to use sugar, dried beans, peas, or lentils.
A shortcrust pastry is sweetened and contains an egg to bind the ingredients. These ingredients make the shortcrust pasty more crumbly, rather than flaky. Most pie crust recipes do not contain the egg or sugar and the crust itself is flaky.
More pies and tarts
How to Make a Shortcrust Pastry Dough
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How to mix the dough with a stand mixer
- Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment put the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl and mix at low speed to incorporate.
- Cut the butter in cubes and then add to the bowl and beat on medium-low speed just until the texture resembles small peas. Do not overbeat. It is helpful to chill the butter cubes before mixing if it is a warm day.
- In a small mixing bowl add the egg yolk, water, cream, and vanilla. Mix together then add to the mixing bowl and mix on low until the dough pulls away from the sides.
- Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and roll into a 12" circle to fit the tart pan.
- Roll the dough around the rolling pin and place it over the tart pan then unroll the dough and fit the pastry into the pan. Press the corners and edges of the dough to fit the pan, lifting the pastry as needed to fit into the pan.
- Once the dough is in the tart pan there will be excess dough hanging over the sides of the pan. Take the rolling pin and roll it over the top of the tart pan to cut away the excess dough.
- With the tines of a fork, press the tines into the dough to allow for venting.
- Place the tart pan with the dough into the refrigerator and chill for 15 -30 minutes.
Blind Baking the Shortcrust Tart Dough
- Heat the oven to 350° F.
- Weigh down the tart dough before baking to keep it from puffing up and losing its shape.
- Remove the tart dough from the refrigerator and cut a piece of parchment paper in a 12" circle and press on top of the tart dough.
- Fill the tart dough pan with sugar to almost the top and spread into a flat layer making sure to get to the edges.
- Place the tart pan in the oven and bake for 30 minutes until you can see the top of the tart dough has turned light golden brown.
- To remove the sugar, scoop out the sugar until it is easy enough to pick up the parchment paper from the tart without spilling sugar.
- The sugar is still good and can be reused. It may appear a bit golden in color but it is usable.
- You now have a baked tart ready for filling.
- Keep all the ingredients cold
- Instead of the cream, you can use all water
- If you are making a savory recipe, omit the vanilla
- Make sure not to overmix which makes the dough tough
- Chill the dough before baking.
- Make sure to weigh the dough down before blind baking so the dough will keep its shape.
- If it is warm in your kitchen chilling the dough before rolling is a good idea, then rechill again before baking.
- You can make this dough and wrap it in plastic wrap then foil and freeze it for a month. Let thaw in the refrigerator before rolling.
Mixing dough by handNo food processor or mixer is required. In a large bowl add the flour, sugar, and salt. The next step is to cut the butter into the flour with a pastry cutter or two knives until the butter is broken down and the texture resembles small peas. Mix the egg yolk, cream, water, and vanilla together and mix into the flour and butter with a fork just until the dough pulls together. Continue to blind-bake the tart shell.
Mixing dough with a food processorAdd the dry ingredients to the food processor. Add small cubes of cold butter and pulse until the flour-coated butter is the size of large peas, approximately 6-8 pulses. Mix the egg yolk, cream, water, and vanilla together then add the egg mixture one tablespoon at a time, pulsing one time after each tablespoon until dough holds together when squeezed. Continue to blind-bake the tart shell.
First published: July 12, 2019, Last updated: April 17, 2022, for better readability.
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From learning to cook on a farm in Indiana to culinary school in California, my passion for food is never-ending. Turning on my oven to bake something for friends and family is my happy place, and I am glad to be here at One Hot Oven sharing both sweet and savory family-friendly recipes for your cooking and baking inspiration.