Sweet Tart Dough

Season: All | Active Time: 45 minutes | Total Time: 2 hours (for a parbaked crust) to 2 hours 10 minutes (for a fully baked crust) | Difficulty: 2 (Easy)

This sweet tart dough, aka pâte sucrée, is a cousin of pie dough but with a consistency that’s less flaky and more uniform and shortbready (a result of incorporating the butter much more thoroughly into the flour). While I won’t kick flaky pie dough out of bed, wetter fillings just work better with this style of tart dough. Toasted almond flour gives this recipe a bit more character than the average tart dough, and using a press-in method means you don’t have to bother with rolling out or weighting the dough before baking. Note that this quantity of dough will work for a 9-inch or 10-inch tart; the latter will just have a slightly thinner crust.

Makes one 9- or 10-inch tart

Special Equipment: Food processor, 9- or 10-inch removable-bottom tart pan or springform pan

⅓ cup almond flour (1.4 oz / 40g) ①

1 cup all-purpose flour (4.6 oz / 130g), plus more for hands

¼ cup powdered sugar (1 oz / 30g)

½ teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt

1 stick unsalted butter (4 oz / 113g), cut into ½-inch pieces, chilled ②

1 large egg yolk (0.6 oz / 16g)

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven and toast the almond flour: Arrange an oven rack in the center position and preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread the almond flour in an even layer on a small rimmed baking sheet and bake, stirring with a heatproof spatula once or twice, until the almond flour is fragrant and golden brown, 6 to 9 minutes. Transfer the almond flour to the bowl of a food processor and let cool. (Turn the oven off.)

Make the dough: Add the all-purpose flour, powdered sugar, and salt to the food processor, then pulse several times to combine. Add the butter and process in long pulses until the pieces of butter are no larger than a pea, about 10 pulses. In a small bowl, beat the egg yolk, vanilla, and 4 teaspoons cold water with a fork until smooth.

Remove the food processor lid and drizzle all of the yolk mixture evenly over the flour mixture (use a flexible spatula to scrape out every last drop). Replace the lid and process in long pulses until a ball of dough forms around the blade and no floury spots remain, about 10 pulses. Scrape the dough out of the food processor and onto a sheet of plastic wrap. Pat the dough into a ½-inch-thick disk, then wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 30 minutes and up to 3 days.

Press the dough into the pan: ③ Unwrap the chilled dough and use a knife or bench scraper to cut it in half, then cut one half into 6 strips. Roll the strips beneath your palms on the work surface to form ropes that are about ½ inch thick, then arrange the ropes around the inside perimeter of the tart or springform pan, pressing into place and overlapping slightly so there are no gaps. Using a lightly floured, straight-sided 1-cup dry measure, press the dough against the sides in an even thickness all the way around. If using a tart pan, press until the dough extends slightly above the edge of the pan.  Using lightly floured hands, press the other half of the dough into and across the bottom of the pan in an even layer. Where the bottom meets the sides, smooth and press the dough together to seal. For an extra-smooth surface or if you notice any unevenness, use the floured measuring cup to flatten the bottom.

Chill the crust: Freeze the lined pan until the dough is completely hardened, 15 to 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven: While the dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 350°F.

Smooth the edge and line with foil: Remove the pan from the freezer.  If using a tart pan, hold a paring knife parallel to the work surface and slice horizontally along the rim of the pan, removing excess dough and creating a smooth edge flush with the top of the pan. Reserve the scraps of raw dough to patch any cracks in the crust after baking.

If using a springform pan, you can leave the edge unfinished or trim around it with a paring knife to create a smooth edge with an even height. Place the pan on a rimmed baking sheet and prick the bottom all over with the tines of a fork. Press a layer of foil directly onto the surface of the dough and up the sides, especially working it into the space where the bottom and sides meet (this will help prevent the dough from slumping as it bakes—no dried beans or pie weights needed—a tip I picked up from pastry legend Lindsey Shere).

Bake the foil-lined crust: Bake the tart crust until the edge is golden brown (peek under the foil to check), 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the sheet from the oven and carefully peel off the foil.

To par- or fully bake the crust: Return the pan to the oven and bake until the crust is golden all over, another 15 to 20 minutes for a parbaked crust, or until deep golden brown around the edges, 10 to 15 minutes longer, for a fully baked crust. Set the crust aside to cool.

Patch any cracks and cool: Use the reserved dough scraps to patch any cracks. Let cool completely.

VARIATION

Nut-Free Tart Dough: Replace the almond flour with ¼ cup all-purpose flour (1.2 oz / 30g) and skip the toasting step.

DO AHEAD
The tart dough, wrapped tightly in plastic and refrigerated, will keep up to 3 days or can be frozen for up to 2 months (place in a resealable plastic bag before freezing). Let the frozen dough thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using. The parbaked or fully baked crust, covered and stored at room temperature, will keep for 1 day.

① Replace the almond flour with an equal weight of whole roasted almonds, if that’s what you have. Add the whole almonds to the food processor along with the flour, sugar, and salt and pulse until the nuts are very finely ground, then proceed with the recipe as written.

② Use cold butter straight from the fridge, otherwise the dough won’t form a ball around the blade. Cold butter also helps the dough chill down faster in the refrigerator.

③ Don’t try to roll out this dough with a rolling pin into a round to line the pan. It’s a fragile, brittle dough (thanks to the lack of gluten development), so pressing it in is the best option.

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