In my years as a cooking instructor I’ve learned that dough is a four-letter word for many cooks. It’s sensitive – overwork it and it bakes up tough and dry – and fragile – how on Earth do you get it into the pie dish or tart pan in one piece?
Dough sounds like some scary stuff. Not anymore. I’ve learned a few tips and tricks along the way that will give you the confidence to tackle a homemade tart dough.
1. Make sure your butter is cold. Cold butter won’t mix completely with the flour. It’s not uncommon to see tiny dots of butter in dough. When the dough’s baking, those dots of butter melt, leaving behind tiny air pockets that give you the flaky dough you love.
2. Pulse the dough in the food processor just until it comes together. Stop the processor as soon as the dough forms a ball that pulls away from the sides of the food processor bowl. Over-processing or kneading a dough too much will make it tough.
3. Once your dough comes together, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and chill it for at least an hour.The butter will have softened in the food processor and chilling gives it a chance to resolidify. Chilling the dough will also make it easier to handle.
4. Roll your dough out on a piece of parchment or wax paper. This not only makes clean up a breeze, it makes it super simple to pick up the dough and get it into your tart (or pie) pan.
This tart dough recipe is easy-peasy-lemon-squeezey. A few pulses in a food processor and even a novice can turn flour, sugar, butter and an egg into this perfect tart dough. You can use this dough to make my Alsatian Apple Tart.
Watch the video for the super simple step-by-step.
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks), cold and cut into small pieces
- Combine flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse once or twice until well mixed.
- Add egg and vanilla and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs, 15-20 seconds.
- Add butter and process until the mixture comes together as a ball of dough that separates itself from the sides of the bowl. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.
- Roll dough out on a piece of parchment paper until it's 1/4-inch thick and a few inches larger than a 9-inch tart pan. Use the parchment paper to lift the dough and place it (dough side down) on top of the tart pan. Carefully peel away the parchment paper and gently press the dough into the pan. Press gently on the edges to remove excess dough.
- Use a fork to prick the entire surface of the dough.
- Blind bake or fill your tart shell, then bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit until golden brown. (Baking time will depend on your filling.)
- Blind Bake your shell to use it with a filling that doesn't require baking.