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Author Notes: Used by so many French pastry chefs for so many French tarts, this is the dough that I turn to automatically when I've got a tart on my mind. Know as pâte sablée, it's really a sweet cookie dough, the one you'd use to make a tender sablé or shortbread cookie.
I always prebake the crust even if it's going to get another long bake with the filling, because I like the resulting color, flavor, and texture—and the fact that the bottom won't be soggy.
I used a fluted tart pan with a removable base. If all you've got is a pie plate, don't let that stop you.
A word on rolling versus pressing: You can roll the crust out and fit it into the tart pan or just press it in. I roll the dough. Rolling gives you a thinner crust than pressing, so if you press, you might occasionally find yourself with a little filling left over.
Storing: Well wrapped, the dough can be kept for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 2 months. While the fully baked crust can be packed airtight and frozen for up to 2 months, I prefer to freeze the crust fitted into the pan but not baked and then bake it directly from the freezer—it will have a fresher flavor, just add about 5 minutes to the baking time.
Reprinted from Baking Chez Moi (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2014). —Dorie Greenspan
Makes one 9- to 9 1/2-inch tart dough
- 1 1/2 cups (204 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (60 grams) confectioners' sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 9 tablespoons (4 1/2 ounces; 128 grams) very cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 1 large egg yolk
- To make the dough: Put the flour, confectioners' sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse a couple times to blend. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is cut in coarsely—you'll have some pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and some the size of peas. Stir in the yolk just to break it up and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition.
- When the egg is incorporated, process in long pulses—about 10 seconds each—until the dough, which will look granular soon after the egg is added, forms clumps and curds. Just before you reach this clumpy stage, the sound of the machine working the dough will change—heads-up. Turn the dough out onto a work surface.
- To incorporate the butter more evenly and to catch any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing, separate small amounts of dough from the pile and use the heel of your hand to smear each piece a few inches across the counter. In French, this is called frisage, and it's the ideal way to finish blending a dough.
- To make a rolled-out crust: Shape the dough into a disk and put it between two sheets of parchment paper or wax paper. Roll the dough out evenly, turning it over frequently and lifting the paper often so that it doesn't roll into the dough and form creases. Aim for a circle that's at least 3 inches larger than the base of your tart pan. The dough will be 1/8- to 1/16-inch-thick, but it's the diameter, not the thickness, that counts. Slide the rolled-out dough, still between the papers, onto a baking sheet or cutting board and refrigerate for 2 hours or freeze it for 1 hour. The dough can be refrigerated overnight or frozen for up to 2 months; wrap it airtight to freeze.
- When the dough is thoroughly chilled, put it on the counter and let it rest for about 10 minutes, or until it's just pliable enough to blend without breaking. Remove the dough from the paper, fit it into a buttered tart pan, and trim the excess dough even with the edges of the pan. (If you'd like, you can fold the excess over and make a thicker wall around the sides of the tart.) Prick the crust all over with a fork and freeze for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.
- To make a press-in crust: Butter the tart pan and press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan. You won't need all of the dough if you want to make a thin crust, but I think it's nice to make a thickish one so that you can really enjoy the texture. Press the pieces of dough in so that they cling to one another and will knit together when baked, but don't use a lot of force—working lightly will preserve the crust's shortbready texture. Prick the crust all over with a fork and freeze for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.
- When you're ready to bake: Center a rack in the oven and heat the oven to 400° F. Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil (or use nonstick foil) and fit the foil snugly into the crust. If the crust is frozen, you can bake it as is; if not, fill it with dried beans or rice.
- To partially bake the crust: Bake for 25 minutes, then carefully remove the foil (and weights). If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon. Transfer the crust to a cooling rack (keep it in the pan).
- To fully bake the crust: Bake the crust for 25 minutes, then carefully remove the foil (and weights). If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon. Bake the crust for another 7 to 10 minutes, or until it is firm and gold brown. Transfer the crust to a cooling rack (keep it in its pan).
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