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Basic Tart Shell

One of life's great ironies is that the perfect time to bake fruit tarts is in the summer, when it's too hot to turn on the oven. Peaches, plums, berries, nectarines ... no matter how beautiful the fruit might be, ... Read more

Total time: 1 hour plus 1 hour chilling | Makes 2 (9-inch) tart shells; serves 12
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) cold butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Step 1Combine flour, sugar and salt in bowl of standing mixer. Cut butter into 1/2-inch cubes and add to flour mixture. On slow speed, mix butter and flour until texture resembles coarse oatmeal.

Step 2Beat egg and vanilla together in small bowl and add to flour mixture. Mix until dough pulls together. Form 2 thick flat disks and set aside to rest 5 minutes.

Step 3Roll out dough disks slightly thinner than 1/4-inch thick and cut out circle 2 inches larger than your tart pan. Ease dough into tart pan and press firmly into pan. Chill 1 hour. Line shell with foil and fill with baking weights.

Step 4Bake at 375 degrees 20 minutes then remove foil and weights and return shell to oven until edges are lightly golden and center is no longer wet looking, 8 to 10 minutes more. (Small individual tartlets may be baked without foil and weights and take 15 to 20 minutes depending on size.)

Note: This sturdy dough has a butter cookie-like texture and is perfect for tarts because it shrinks only a bit during baking. It must be made in a standing mixer, as it's hard to pull it together by hand. I like to double this recipe and store shells that have been rolled out and pressed into the tart pans in the freezer for up to 2 months. Double wrap them in plastic to ensure freshness. I bake them in a preheated oven directly from the freezer. Baked shells can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days. You can also make 24 to 30 small tartlets with this recipe.
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