For a 9 to 10 inch tart shell:
- 1 1/3 c. all-purpose flour (182 g)
- 3 tbsp. granulated sugar (38 g)
- 1/8 tsp. baking powder
- 5 tbsp. unsalted butter, chilled (71 g)
- 2 tbsp. shortening, chilled (28 g)
- 1 egg, beaten with 1 tsp. ice water
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
To mix the dough by hand:
- Place the flour, sugar, and baking powder in a bowl and lightly mix to combine.
- Cut the chilled butter and vegetable shortening into ½ inch cubes and add to the bowl with the dry ingredients.
- Rub the fat and dry ingredients together rapidly with the tips of your fingers until the fat is broken into bits the size of small oatmeal flakes.
- Gently blend in the egg and vanilla, and knead the dough rapidly into a ball.
To mix the dough in the food processor:
- Place the flour, sugar, and baking powder into the bowl of the processor and pulse once or twice to combine.
- Cut the chilled butter and vegetable shortening into ½ inch cubes. Add the butter to the bowl with the dry ingredient and pulse several times until the fat is broken into bits the size of small oatmeal flakes. Add the egg and vanilla, and pulse several more times just until the dough begins to mass on the blade. Be careful not to over mix.
- With the heel of your hand rapidly press the pastry by two-spoonful bits at a time down on the board and away from you in a firm, quick smear of about 6 inches.
- Form the dough into a ball, wrap in waxed paper, and chill for several hours until firm.
Rolling out the dough:
- Let the chilled dough rest on the counter for 10 minutes to soften slightly.
- Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface or between two sheets of wax paper to prevent sticking.
To transfer the dough to the tart pan:
- Carefully remove the top layer of wax paper and invert the disc of dough into the pan. Remove the other piece of wax paper and gently press the crust into the shape of the pan. Any cracks or holes can be patched with excess dough or by pressing the edges together.
- Trim the edges by rolling a rolling pin on top of the pan or by trimming with a knife along the edge of the pan.
- Chill the crust before baking. I like to put it in the freezer for 30 minutes to an hour.
Baking the crust:
- When you are ready to bake the crust, preheat the oven to 375 °F.
- Line the chilled dough with parchment paper or foil.
- Fill the inside with pie weights or beans and bake until the edges just begin to brown. The time will vary depending on the size of the tart pans used, the material the pans are made of, and the varying heat of individual ovens. This could take approximately from 10 to 20 minutes
- Remove the pie weights, prick the bottom of the tart with a fork in several places, and continue baking the tart crust a few more minutes until the center of the crust is golden.
For small tartlets, I find it easier to form the dough into small balls and then roll the dough out into little circles on a floured surface. Alternatively, the small balls can be pressed by hand into the tartlet shell.
When lining and filling small tartlets with parchment and pie weights, I find it easiest to press another tartlet tin on top of the crust to hold its shape during freezing and baking. The crust dough would then be sandwiched between two tartlet tins. This replaces the need to line the tartlet shells with foil or parchment and then filling with pie weights.
The unbaked shell can be kept in the freezer until needed and can go directly into the oven from the freezer.
The dough can be stored in the refrigerator for 2-3 days before rolling it out. It can also be stored in the freezer for about a month.
Baked pastry shells can be stored in an airtight container for several days or in the freezer for about a month before filling and using.
This allows the tarts to be made in advance and assembled shortly before serving.
A note on measuring flour:
Julia Child used the scoop-and-level method of measuring flour. A chart in her book Mastering the Art of French Cooking gives the equivalent of 1 cup of flour as 5 ounces or 140 grams. Depending on the method of measuring and other factors such as the type of flour and humidity, flour can weigh from 4 to 5 1/2 ounces per cup.