How to Make a Tart Crust

Follow these expert tips for a tender, flaky tart crust that turns out right every time.


Sweet or savory, a tart baked in a pan with a removable side makes a stunning statement on any menu. Less than an inch high, a tart is a wonderful venue for a colorful fruit filling or decadently rich chocolate or nut center.

Step 1: Prepare tart pastry

Follow the directions specific to your recipe. Most tarts, however, follow these steps:

-- Cut cold butter into all-purpose flour until pieces are the size of small peas.

-- In a separate bowl, combine beaten egg yolk and ice water.

-- Gradually stir the egg yolk mixture into the flour mixture.

-- Add 2 to 4 tablespoons more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until all of the dough is moistened.

-- Shape dough into a ball.

-- If necessary, cover dough with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 30 to 60 minutes or until dough is easy to handle.

Step 2: Roll dough and transfer to tart pan

On a lightly floured surface, roll out pastry dough into a circle about 2 inches larger than the diameter of the pan.

Move the pastry dough to the tart pan. To aid in transferring the pastry to the pan, you can wrap the pastry around a rolling pin, center it over the pan, then unwrap the pastry. Gently fit the pastry into the side to line the pan. The trick is to place the pastry in the tart pan without stretching it so the thickness will be even.

Step 3: Press pastry dough into tart pan

With your fingers, press the pastry dough into the fluted side of the tart pan. Be sure that the pastry fits snugly where the bottom and side of the pan meet with no air pockets.

Step 4: Trim excess pastry dough

The top of the pastry shell should be even with the top of the pan. To trim the excess pastry, fold the overhanging pastry over the rim of the pan. Press along the top edge to break off the excess pastry.

Tip: Tart pastry is tender. Don't worry if it tears; use the pastry scraps to mend it. Here's how:

-- Moisten the underside of a scrap with a little water so it stays in place.

-- Press the scrap firmly onto the tart shell and smooth it into the surrounding pastry.

Step 5: Prick pastry with fork, if needed

If the tart shell is to be baked without a filling, prick the sides and the bottom of the pastry generously with a fork to prevent it from shrinking. Bake according to recipe directions.

If it is to be baked with the filling, pour the filling in the tart shell now and follow the baking instructions for the recipe.

See Our Best Tart Recipes:

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