- Skill Level: Moderate
- Cost: Inexpensive
- Favorited: 7 Times
Can be made ahead of time.
This versatile dough can be handled in three ways for slightly different results. For most recipes, such as the Caramelized Onion and Bacon Tart or Roasted Tomato Tart, use the basic dough. If you’re in a hurry, don’t have a rolling pin, or are intimidated by rolling out a tart shell, you can press the dough into a tart pan, and then chill the shell thoroughly before proceeding. This produces a perfectly acceptable, if not quite as tender crust as a rolled tart shell. For an extra flaky crust, which I like for Caramel Apple Tart, the butter pieces are left a bit larger, and the dough is folded into thirds, which creates a more layered, flakier dough.
Basic Rolled Dough
1. Combine the flour, salt, and sugar in a chilled bowl and whisk to combine. Cut the cold butter into the flour using a pastry blender until the largest butter pieces are about the size of almonds. Using your hands, break down the biggest pieces of butter, rubbing them into the flour between your thumbs and fingers until the largest pieces are the size of large peas. Use a fork to stir as you dribble in 2 tablespoons to ¼ cup ice water, a little at a time. To test whether you’ve added enough water, squeeze a bit of the mixture in your hand to see if it holds together. Firmly press down on the dough in the bowl, giving it one or two kneads until it holds together in a mass.
2. Divide the dough in half. Place each half onto a piece of plastic wrap, loosely gather up the wrap, and firmly press down into a rough circle about 1 inch thick. Each disk of dough will be just the right size for one 8- to 10-inch tart. Chill until firm, at least 1 hour or overnight. The dough can also be frozen at this point for a month or two. Slip into a resealable plastic bag for freezing.
3. When you need to roll it out, let the dough soften until it is malleable, giving it a few whacks with a rolling pin to help it along. Lightly flour your work surface (see Notes) and roll the dough from the center out, using firm pressure, until it is about 1/8 inch thick, flipping it over and adding more flour to the work surface and top of dough as needed. Starting from the top edge of the dough, roll the dough onto the rolling pin, and then center and unroll it over the top of a tart pan with a removable bottom.
4. Using your knuckles, nudge the dough down into the corners of the tart pan, being careful not to stretch it. Fold it gently over the edges of the pan, and run the rolling pin across the top to trim the edges. The edges of the pan will cut through the dough. Again, use your knuckles to gently press the dough against the side of the pan. Wrap in plastic wrap or slip into a resealable plastic bag and chill until ready to use. At this point, it can be refrigerated for 1 to 2 days, or frozen for a week or two.
5. To blind bake the shell, preheat the oven to 400°F. Prick the chilled tart shell all lover with a fork. Line the tart with parchment paper or aluminum foil and fill with uncooked rice, beans, pie weights, or another tart pan of the same size to prevent the shell from rising. Fold the foil in toward the center to expose the edges of the, pastry. Bake until the edges are golden brown, about 25 minutes. Remove the parchment paper and weights, and bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, until the bottom turns golden brown.
Prepare the Basic Rolled Dough through step 1. Divide the dough in half and place one half in a tart pan with a removable bottom. (Wrap the other half and refrigerate or freeze it for later use. Return to room temperature before using.) Working quickly so you don’t warm the dough too much, spread it out evenly in the pan and up the sides, pressing with the flat side of your knuckles. Make sure the sides of the tart shell are about as thick as the bottom. Chill until very firm, at least 1-hour. Then proceed with your recipe.
1. Combine the flour, salt, and sugar in a chilled bowl and whisk until combined. Cut the cold butter into the flour using a pastry blender until the butter pieces are between ¼ inch and ½ inch. Rub the largest butter pieces between your thumbs and fingers to break them down a bit more.
2. Use a fork to stir as you dribble in about ¼ cup ice water, a tablespoon at a time. To test whether you’ve added enough water, squeeze a bit in your hand to see if it holds together. If the dough seems dry add another tablespoon or two of water and stir with the fork until the water is evenly distributed and absorbed. Firmly press down on the dough in the bowl, giving it one or two kneads until it holds together in a rough mass. It will be quite raggedy.
3. Shape the dough into a long rectangle on a piece of plastic wrap. Fold the dough into thirds using the plastic wrap to help lift the dough. Cut into 2 equal pieces, wrap in plastic, and firmly press down on the plastic to compress the dough slightly. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1-hour or overnight. The dough can also be wrapped in plastic and frozen at this point for a month or two. To roll out the dough, follow step 3 for Basic Rolled Dough.
To create the perfect work surface for rolling out dough, wipe the counter you are going to roll on with a damp paper towel, leaving it damp, but not wet. Immediately sprinkle with flour and wipe off excess to the side with your hand. Just enough flour will stick to the surface to make a lightly floured work area.
Nutritional information is based on 16 servings.