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Pastry Dough - Tarts Part 2

Pâte Sucrée: Making Sweet Dough

Pâte sucrée is a versatile dough used in sweet and savory tarts. It can also be the base for cookies and cakes. You can use a food processor to mix this dough, but the following technique describes how to make the dough by hand.

Pasty Dough Equipment:

  • Large mixing bowl (or a food processor with blade attachment)
  • Pastry blender
  • Measuring cups or food scale
  • Measuring spoons
  • Cutting board
  • Chef's knife
  • Plastic wrap
  • Tart pan
  • Parchment paper
  • Pie weights (can use ceramic marbles or dried beans)

Pastry Dough Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of all-purpose flour (approx. 15 oz.)
  • 2 teaspoons of Kosher salt (reduce to one teaspoon if using table salt)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 20 tablespoons of unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" cubes (2 1/2 sticks or 10 oz.)
  • 1 cup of ice water
  • 2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten

Pastry Dough Recipe:

  • In a large bowl, add flour, salt, and sugar, stirring with the pastry blender to combine.
  • Add the cold butter and blend with the flour using the pastry blender until the flour and butter resemble a coarse meal.
  • Add four tablespoons of ice water and blend until combined.
  • Add the egg and blend with the pastry blender until incorporated, and the dough holds together.
  • To test the consistency of the dough, squeeze a small amount in your hand. If it crumbles, add more ice water, one tablespoon at a time. The dough should just hold its shape, but not feel wet or sticky.
  • Knead for a few seconds until a ball comes together.
  • Form the dough into a flat disc and wrap with plastic wrap.
  • Let the dough rest in the refrigerator to relax any gluten that may have formed during mixing. The longer the dough can rest, the better--overnight is best, but as little as one hour works in a pinch.

Rolling the Pastry Dough:

  • After the dough has rested, remove it from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for 5 or 10 minutes. This allows the solid fats to warm up a bit and be more cooperative during the rolling process.
  • Lightly flour a flat, sturdy work surface, such as a counter or table, and lightly flour all sides of the piece of dough you are rolling out.
  • Using a rolling pin, gently roll from the middle to the edge of the dough, rotating a quarter turn between each roll. Add flour as needed to prevent the dough from sticking to the rolling pin or work surface. If you notice the dough is becoming too soft, return it to the cooler for 5 minutes.
  • Continue this process until the dough resembles a large disk, three inches larger than your tart pan to accommodate the sides, and between 1/8" to 1/4" thick.
  • Roll the dough onto the rolling pin, similar to a roll of paper towels, and transfer it to your favorite tart pan.
  • Starting at one end of the pan, unroll the dough across the pan and gently push it into the bottom of the pan.
  • Gently push the dough into the sides of the pan without pulling the dough, by compressing and coaxing it into the corners with the bottom of a measuring cup, allowing the extra dough to hang off the edge of the pan.
  • Roll the rolling pin across the top of the pan with slight pressure. This cuts the extra crust away from the tart, creating a clean top edge.
  • Pierce the bottom of the dough with the tines of a fork in several places. This will prevent the dough from puffing up too high during the blind baking process.
  • Cut a piece of parchment paper slightly larger than the size of the tart pan and place over the dough, allowing it to come slightly up the sides of the pan.
  • Pour pie weights into the tart pan, over the parchment paper, and evenly distribute. This prevents the dough from shrinking in the oven.
  • Blind bake the dough for 20 minutes, or according to recipe directions.

Chef's Notes:

My favorite tart dough for savory tarts begins as a pie dough, using the biscuit mixing method, but has the addition of an egg, added with the liquid. I've found by combining the two techniques, the tart dough becomes almost like puff pastry, with an amazingly light system of flaky layers.

About the Author

After receiving degrees from the University of Wisconsin and the Culinary Institute of America, Andrea Rappaport moved into a full-time career in the restaurant business. For over 12 years, she worked in various culinary jobs, including as a cook for Wolfgang Puck at Spago, and ultimately as the executive chef and partner of the highly revered San Francisco restaurant Zinzino. For the past seven years, Andrea has worked as the private chef for one family in the San Francisco area, and continues to expand her culinary portfolio by catering, teaching, and consulting.