A tart is the easiest, most delicious and versatile dish that one can prepare in no time. It goes well with both sweet and savoury fillings. Whether it is custards, lemon curd, or cream cheese filling, you just need to put on your thinking caps and go where your creativity takes you! So many you ask me- how to make perfect tarts? Since a perfectly baked tart shell is the basis to a wonderful tart recipe, in this article, I will take you through the simple process and discuss some common goof-ups to make sure you sail through it smoothly! So many you ask me- how to make perfect tarts? Here are some tips to keep in mind while baking a tart.
I also have a few super easy and oh so yum tart recipes on the blog for you to try
- Lemon strawberry tarts
- Eggless glutton free chocolate pecan tart
- Passion fruit and cream cheese tart
- Eggless mango cream cheese tart
- No bake strawberry custard tart
A shortcrust pastry is one of the most forgiving pastries in the kitchen. You just need to stick to the EXACT measurement of ingredients and follow the recipe from start to the end to come up with the a perfect golden and flaky shell.
Here are some tips that will help you not make the same mistakes I did and make the process of baking a tart so much more easier!
Making the dough
- Make sure that the butter is cold– To get a perfect flaky texture, the butter needs to be cut into 1/2 inch cubes and chilled before rubbing with the flour. I like popping the butter and mixing bowl in the freezer for a while to make sure it doesn’t melt while bringing the dough together!
- Use a food processor– Since the heat from the hands is sufficient to melt the butter in the dough, I suggest using a food processor. It is quicker and more efficient. However, if you must use your hands, make sure to not over-touch the dough. Rub it just until it reaches a bread crumb texture and pop it back in the fridge for a while.
- Do not use too much water/milk– unlike a traditional dough, a shortcrust pastry does not require too much water. A small amount of water/milk, just enough to make the dough come together is required. Using too much water also causes the shell to shrink while baking. I use ice cold water to save the butter from melting.
- Let it rest– the dough needs to chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour for the gluten in the flour to relax. A well rested dough is more flexible and malleable, and won’t crack on you, so it’s worth the patience!
- However, if you are in a hurry, you can quickly mix three parts of cookie crumbs with one part of melted butter and push the mixture onto the tart pan, pop it in the oven for 10 minutes, and voila! You have a perfect tart shell with minimum time and effort!
Unlike a pie crust that is flaky, a Pâte Sablée is velvety and cookie-like in texture. The basic difference lies in the dough; softened butter is used instead of cold butter and it is creamed well with sugar for the dough. An egg yolk is also added for extra richness. The use of softened butter in the dough makes the texture of the baked shell tender rather than flaky. So it’s really upto how you like your tart shell!
Rolling it out
- Once the dough is rested, it will be tougher to roll out. So instead of wrapping it like a ball, it is better if you flatten out the dough in the shape of a disk and then let it chill. A disk would be a lot easier to work with rather than a ball of tough pastry.
- So once you take the dough out of the refrigerator, you want to work quickly because the butter in the dough will start melting and the dough will become sticky! You can always put it back in the freezer for a while if you feel the pastry is getting difficult to work with. Take it out in five minutes, and start rolling again!
- To make sure the dough doesn’t stick to the work station, try rolling it between two sheets of parchment paper. It becomes a lot easier to handle that way!
Blind baking is the process of baking pastry without the filling.
- Make sure that the tart is filled entirely with baking beans, especially around the grooves and edges to make sure the pastry doesn’t lose its shape while baking.
- You also want to poke holes at the base with a fork since the heat from the bottom of the oven may cause the pastry to arch up, and that is the last thing you want!
- Since baking beans can be expensive, you can use any pulses or even rice available in the kitchen for the process. You obviously wont be able to cook the used rice, but you can use them again while blind baking!
- You can use a vegetable peeler to scrape off any imperfections on the final baked shell and no one would ever come to know if you accidentally burnt the edges!