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The Art of the Tart

A simple pastry crust, prepared with flour, fat, salt, and water, becomes a great vehicle for diverse preparations both sweet and savory. While sweet pies are an American favorite, savory ones like the Pot Pie were traditional English offerings that date even further back to ancient Greece. Today they are found in many cultures around the globe. Pot Pie, said to have swept into British culture in the 16th century, can be traced to the lavish banquets of the Roman Empire.

Who doesn't love tarts, right? And the thing with tarts is, that the shells are just as important (if not more) than the filling itself.

Flaky and buttery is what we're looking for in tart shells. And on top of those, easy to make. So today I'm going to share with you all those. 

Making pastry dough requires a little bit of patience and a lot of love. To make this tart crust recipe, all you need are a few basic ingredients and a tart pan to get started. Similar to shortbread, it's buttery, crisp and slightly sweet. You can even make it ahead of time and freeze the dough for up to a month.



  • 1 egg yolk

  • 2 Tbs. very cold water

  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

  • 1 1⁄4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

  • 1⁄3 cup sugar

  • 1⁄4 tsp. salt

  • 8 Tbs. (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes  

Step 1. Make the Dough

By hand: In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar and salt. Using a pastry cutter or 2 knives, cut the butter into the flour mixture until the texture resembles coarse cornmeal, with butter pieces no larger than small peas. Add the egg mixture and mix with a fork just until the dough pulls together.With a stand mixer: Using the flat beater, stir together the flour, sugar and salt in the mixer bowl. Add the butter and beat on medium-low speed until the texture resembles coarse cornmeal, with butter pieces no larger than small peas. Add the egg mixture and beat just until the dough pulls together.Nut dough variation: Add 2 tablespoons of ground toasted pecans, walnuts, almonds or hazelnuts to the flour mixture and proceed as directed.


Step 2. Flatten the Dough and Chill

Transfer the dough to a work surface, pat into a ball and flatten into a disk. Use the dough immediately, or wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until well chilled, about 30 minutes.Make-ahead Tip: The dough can be made ahead of time and frozen for up to one month. To freeze, place the dough round on a 12-inch cardboard circle and wrap it well with plastic wrap. Or, use the round to line a tart pan and wrap well.


Step 3. Roll Out the Dough

On a lightly floured board, flatten the disk with 6 to 8 gentle taps of the rolling pin. Lift the dough and give it a quarter turn. Lightly dust the top of the dough or the rolling pin with flour as needed, then roll out until the dough is about 1/8 inch thick.


Step 4. Cut the Dough

Use a small, sharp knife to cut out a round 2 inches greater in diameter than your tart or tartlet pan.Use a small, sharp knife or a cookie cutter to cut out rounds 1/2 to 1 inch greater in diameter than your miniature tartlet pans.If using a rectangular tart pan, cut out a rectangle 2 inches larger on all sides than the pan. Makes enough dough for one 9 1/2-inch tart, six 4-inch tartlets, twelve 2-inch miniature tartlets or one 13 3/4-by-4 1/4-inch rectangular tart.

A tart wouldn't be a tart without the filling and garnish, would it? This is the easy part, at least in terms of sweet tarts...let's forget about the savoury ones for today.

All that remains now is the filling and garniture. This varies greatly from country to country in Europe. Let's stick with a few basic fillings and garnishes, recipes to follow.

  • Pastry Cream and fresh seasonal fruit

  • Almond filling with or without fruit

  • Chocolate and various fillings

Of course there are many types of savory tarts as well, but for today we will stay with sweet.

Download PDF • 31KB

Download PDF • 34KB

Download PDF • 31KB

Have a wonderful weekend, and if you have a little time, drop by the Chef Shop! We have some beautiful knife sets with a 25% discount for the first week of May!

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