A fruit tart is best enjoyed the day it is made. However, the best part about making a fruit tart is that the pastry shell can be made a few days in advance so it can be quite a timesaver. The shell is a sweet pastry crust, or pate sucree, and it has a wonderful texture that adds to the decadence of the fruit tart as a whole.
There are many ways to prepare a tart crust. Some people chill the dough in the refrigerator, others place it in the tart pan immediately. Some people roll the dough out and carefully place it in the tart pan, others place the big ball of dough on the tart pan and use their fingers to spread it throughout the pan. Some people use pie weights, others poke the shell with the tines of a fork. No matter what your preferences may be, here are some tips and tricks on how to prepare a delicious, golden tart pastry crust to fill with rich cream and beautiful fruit.
Making a Tart Pastry Crust
- Mixer or Food Processor
- Plastic wrap (optional)
- Tart pan (with removable bottom)
- Rolling pin (optional)
- Parchment Paper (optional)
- Pie weights (optional)
Mixing -- It's important to never over-mix or over-beat the dough. Be sure to follow the ingredients, measurements and instructions carefully. A mixer or food processor can be used for this step of the process. If a mixer is used, scrapes the sides of the bowl often and beat on low speed until just incorporated. If a food processor is used, pulse the mixture until a ball forms. Independent of which method you use, the dough will come together very quickly. This is tart crust so kneading is unnecessary.
Chilling -- If you prefer to chill the pastry crust, cover the ball of dough in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. The dough can keep in the refrigerator for 3 days. The longer it sits in the refrigerator to chill, the more the gluten in the dough will relax. If you don't relax the dough, chances are you'll have tough dough that pulls away from the pan when it's in the oven. Trust me...I know from experience.
Rolling -- Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and roll out dough until it's about 1/4 inch thick. Roll the dough around the rolling pin and unroll it on to the tart pan. Press the dough gently into every nook and cranny and cut off excess dough with a knife. As mentioned earlier, some don't roll out the dough. If you're one of these people (my hand is raised), simple place the ball of dough on the tart pan and spread it into every nook and cranny using your fingertips. Cut off the excess dough with a knife.
Preparing -- Tart crust has a tendency to rise when baking. To prevent this from happening, prick the dough with the tines of a fork. Cut out a circle of parchment paper and place it on top of the bottom of the shell. Fill the pan with pie weights. This technique is called "blind baking." If you choose not to use pie weights, simple prick the dough with the tines of a fork.
Baking -- Place the tart pan/shell into a preheated oven and bake for approximately 15 minutes. Remove the pie weights and parchment paper and keep in the oven until the shell turns into a golden brown color. Allow the shell to cool completely before adding the cream and berries. If you don't use pie weights, simply keep an eye on the shell and remove it from the oven when it turns a golden brown color, approximately 15 minutes.
For a delicious tart to serve during the warm summer months, be sure to check out this gorgeous Simple Fresh Fruit Tart that family and friends will love.