This is a classic sweet tart dough, the one pastry chefs learn as apprentices. It is really a cookie dough—and it is perfect with any sweet tart, whether the filling is fruit, ganache, or custard.
The easiest way to make this dough is in a large-capacity food processor, although it can be made quickly in a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Whichever method you choose, just make certain to go easy on the dough—its lovely texture depends on your not overworking the flour. Finally, as you’ll see, this is a large recipe—enough for three crusts. With a dough like this, the texture is always better if you make a large batch, so it’s best not to cut the proportions; rather, make the full recipe and freeze the dough you don’t need at the moment: Frozen tart dough is always a good thing to have on hand.
- 2½ sticks (10 ounces; 290 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1½ cups (150 grams) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- Lightly packed ½ cup (2¼ ounces; 70 grams) ground blanched almonds
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 3½ cups (490 grams) all-purpose flour
1. TO MAKE THE DOUGH: Place the butter in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade and process, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until creamy. Add the confectioners’ sugar and process to blend well. Add the ground almonds, salt, and vanilla and continue to process until smooth, scraping the bowl as necessary. Lightly stir the eggs together with a fork and, with the machine running, add them to the work bowl; process for a few seconds to blend. Finally, add the flour and pulse until the mixture just starts to come together. When the dough forms moist curds and clumps and then starts to form a ball, stop!—you don’t want to overwork it. The dough will be very soft, and that’s just as it should be. (If you want to make the dough in a mixer, use the paddle attachment. First beat the butter until it is smooth, then add the remaining ingredients in the order given above. Just be careful when you add the flour—you must stop mixing as soon as the flour is incorporated.)
2. Gather the dough into a ball and divide it into 3 pieces. Gently press each piece into a disk and wrap each disk in plastic. Allow the dough to rest in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, or for up to 2 days, before rolling and baking. (The dough can be wrapped airtight and frozen for up to a month.)
3. TO ROLL AND BAKE TART CRUSTS: For each tart, butter the right-sized tart pan and place it on a parchment-lined baking sheet. If you are making more than one tart, work with one piece of dough at a time.
4. What makes this dough so delicious—lots of butter—also makes it a little difficult to roll. The easiest way to work with pate sucrée is to roll it out between sheets of plastic wrap. Just flatten a large piece of plastic wrap against the counter and roll the dough between that and another piece of plastic. Turn the dough over often so that you can roll it out on both sides, and as you’re rolling, make sure to lift the sheets of plastic several times so that they don’t crease and get rolled into the dough. (If the dough becomes too soft, just slip it, still between plastic, onto a baking sheet and pop it into the fridge for a few minutes.) Remove one sheet of the plastic and center the dough (exposed side down) over the tart pan. Press the dough against the bottom of the pan and up the sides, remove the top sheet of plastic wrap, and roll your rolling pin across the rim of the pan to cut off the excess. If the dough cracks or splits while you’re working, don’t worry—you can patch the cracks with leftover dough (moisten the edges to ”glue” them into place). Just be careful not to stretch the dough in the pan (what you stretch now will shrink later). Chill for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator. (Repeat with the remaining dough, if necessary.)
5. When you are ready to bake the crust(s), preheat the oven to 350°F 080°C). Line the crust with a circle of parchment paper or foil and fill with dried beans or nee.
6. Bake the crust (or crusts) for 20 to 25 minutes, or just until very lightly colored. If the crust needs to be fully baked, remove the parchment and beans and bake the crust for another 3 to 5 minutes, or until golden. Transfer to a rack to cool.
Nutritional information is based on the entire recipe.