I like to think of pate sucrée — a slightly sweet, shortbread-like tart dough — as a blank canvas for whatever flights of flavor fancy are dancing through my head at that moment. Sometimes that means a deep, dark pool of chocolate ganache complemented by a slick of raspberry jam. Other times, lemon curd and a cap of marshmallow-soft meringue. But, more often than not, my tartlets get the classical patisserie treatment: a dollop of vanilla pastry cream and a crown of berries or sliced stone fruit. In that vein, consider this no-fail recipe a building block for whatever whimsical pastry creations come to mind.
To store unbaked, wrap the dough ball tightly in plastic wrap, slide into a freezer-safe resealable plastic bag, and freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw the frozen dough ball in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 hours before rolling and shaping. Fully baked unfilled shells can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
3 1/3 cups (16 2/3 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
16 tablespoons (8 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cubed
2 large egg yolks
4 to 8 tablespoons heavy cream
- In a bowl of a stand mixer fit with a paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Mix on low speed for 30 seconds. Add the butter and beat until the mixture is the consistency of cornmeal, about 5 minutes.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and 2 tablespoons of cream. Add to the flour mixture and mix until just combined. If the dough does not come together into large chunks, slowly add the remaining cream, a little bit at a time, until it does. Gather the dough into a ball, pat it into a disk, and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator and unwrap. Divide the dough into two portions and again pat gently into disks. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out each dough disk into a round about 1/4-inch thick and about 1 inch greater in diameter than the pan you are using. Drape the rolled-out dough into the tart pan(s), gently pushing it into the bottom edges and against the pan sides to make a strong and straight shell. Press down firmly along the rim of the pan to cut off the excess dough. Prick all over the bottom and sides with the tines of a fork and place in the freezer to firm up for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Bake until golden brown, 18-24 minutes.
- Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before filling.
- Desserts, Dough/Crusts
- Makes two 7-inch tarts or 10 3-1/2-inch tartlets