Tarts are one of my favorite desserts, 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.
perfect for sweet and savory tarts
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Making pastry dough can be intimidating, but tarts doughs are quick and easy to make with just a few basic ingredients and a tart pan. Sweet shortcrusts are not like pie crust 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 1/2″ tart 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.
What is a shortcrust pastry dough?
Shortcrust means the gluten strands in this type of dough have been shortened which creates a tender crumbly crust as opposed to the elongated strands of gluten in bread dough that create the airy, chewy texture.
There are three basic shortcrust pastry doughs with fancy French names that are fun to say but they are all pastry doughs and 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.
“There is such simplicity in making tart dough from the ingredients to mixing the dough to the baking”
Tart Dough Ingredients – Pâte Sucrée
- Egg yolk
Let’s make some tart dough, I promise it is so easy
When it comes to actually mixing the tart dough there are several ways to do it and they will all come out perfect.
- Mixing by hand – no food processor or mixer required. In a large bowl add the flour, sugar, and salt. The next is 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 coarse cornmeal. 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 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 egg mixture one tablespoon at a time, pulsing one time after each tablespoon until dough holds together when squeezed.
- Standing mixer – Fit the stand mixer with the flat paddle and stir in the flour, sugar, and salt. 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 then add the egg mixture and beat just until the dough pulls together.
At this point, you can immediately roll the dough and fit into the tart pan or wrap in plastic and let chill. If your kitchen is warm, chilling the dough before rolling is a good idea.
Let’s roll some dough
If you have chilled the dough, let it sit for 10 minutes before rolling.
On a lightly floured 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.
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.
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.
Once the dough is in the pan take the rolling pin and roll over the top of the pan to remove the excess dough.
With a fork press the tines into the bottom of the pastry dough which will allow venting during baking.
It’s time to chill
Once your pastry dough is fitted in the tart pan let it chill for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator. This is really important and helps the gluten relax in the dough so the dough will not shrink, and chills the butter, all this means a great looking tart dough.
Blind bake the crust
What is blind baking and why you blind bake?
- Blind baking just means to bake the tart crust without any filling.
- 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 guaranteed 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.
Why do you weight down the dough?
To keep the tart doughs’ shape while baking you need to weigh it down. My preferred method is weighing it down with sugar. Simply take a piece of parchment paper and cut it into a circle larger than the tart pan. Press the paper into the crust 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 it the sugar is pushed into the sides of the tart, this will keep the edges upright during baking.
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 weight 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 weight the dough down.
Bake the tart dough at 350 degrees F. 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.
Shortcrust Mixing Tips
One of the best ways to make a delicious pastry dough that is tender, flakey, 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 round on plastic wrap and wrap well, then wrap in foil.
Equipment to make pastry doughs
The 9 1/2 inch tart pan has a removable bottom, the pan 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 in your freezer. I have one for chocolate doughs and one for plain doughs.
Don’t forget to Pin for later when you need a great tart dough recipe.
If you are wanting to make pie dough make sure to read the One Hot Oven post on How to Make A Flaky Pie Crust.
How to Make a Shortcrust Tart Dough
- How to Mix the Shortcrust Dough
- Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment put the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl and mix.
- Cut the butter in cubes and then add to the bowl and beat on medium-low speed until the texture resembles coarse cornmeal. The butter pieces should be about the size of a pea. Do not overbeat.
- In a small 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 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
- 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
- Preheat 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.
Lovely, isn’t it? Golden brown, with the beautiful fluted sides just waiting on a luscious filling.
Shortcrust Pastry Dough