Sweet Tart Shell
This is a versatile, sweet, delicate, but crisp crust. The butter and sugar are creamed together for 8 minutes, which is very unusual. I find that the longer creaming time produces a more tender crust because you introduce a large number of air pockets into the fat. However, because there are so many air pockets that expand during baking, the finished tart shell will tend to be uneven and chip a bit. This can be quite maddening when you are after that perfect-looking tart, with each fluted curve holding its shape flawlessly, but the aerated, crunchy, cookie-like texture that this recipe and technique produce is worth the sacrifice of visual perfection.
Storage: The dough, well wrapped, can be refrigerated for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 1 month. The baked shell, well wrapped, will keep for 2 days.
Total Timeunder 4 hours
Make Ahead RecipeYes
Taste and Texturebuttery, crisp, sweet
- 16 tablespoons (8 ounces) butter, at room temperature
- 1 1/3 cups powdered sugar
- Zest of 1 lemon or tangerine (optional)
- 2 egg yolks, at room temperature
- 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Stand mixer
- 8- or 9-inch fluted or straight-sided tart pan
- Pie weights or dried beans
Cream the butter and incorporate the eggs (see the Notes on creaming butter and room-temperature eggs):
Place the butter in the bowl of the stand mixer with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Add the powdered sugar and lemon zest (if you are using it) and beat on medium-high speed until the mixture becomes fluffy and almost white in color, approximately 6 to 8 minutes, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, and continue to beat until they are fully incorporated and the batter looks smooth and glossy, 1 to 2 minutes.
Add the dry ingredients and finish the dough. In a small bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients and add them, all at once, to the butter mixture. Use a rubber spatula and fold the dry mixture into the butter mixture with a few turns before turning on the mixer. Mix the dough at slow speed until thoroughly combined, 1 to 2 minutes. Stop the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, and mix on slow speed for another 30 seconds.
Separate the dough into two mounds. Wrap each mound in plastic wrap and press down to form two 1-inch-thick disks. Transfer the dough to the refrigerator and chill for 2 hours or overnight.
Roll and blind-bake the tart dough (see the Note on rolling tart dough):
On a cool, dry counter surface, roll the dough into a 1/8-inch-thick circle. Line the tart pan with the dough and freeze the tart shell for ½ hour.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Remove the shell from the freezer, line it with parchment paper, aluminum foil, or a large coffee filter, and fill it with pie weights or dried beans. Transfer the shell to the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let it sit for 10 minutes; take out the liner and weights and place the shell back in the oven. (You can save the beans to use as pie weights again.) Bake until it is golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes.
Vanilla-, Cardamom-, or Cinnamon-Scented Dough:
I suggest lemon or tangerine zest as an option to flavor this dough. You can also add the seeds of a vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon or cardamom.
2006 Kate Zuckerman