Sweet Tart Crust (Pâte Sucrée)
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Tart Crust Recipe
I’ve always been disappointed with store-bought fruit tarts. They look so beautiful and they are tempting for sure behind the bakery glass window, but it’s the crust that I struggle with. They are typically so hard and thick that I’m literally sawing it with my knife which leads to the crust falling apart despite my best efforts to keep the tart looking pretty.
Making a Tart Pastry is as easy as making basic shortbread cookie dough. The beauty of this tart dough is you don’t need pie weights – it doesn’t puff up or lose its form. Incorporating an egg yolk also helps to ensure it doesn’t get overly tough and difficult to cut through later.
Ingredients for a Tart Shell
The ingredients for making tart dough are so simple and you probably already have them in your pantry and refrigerator:
- Butter – use softened, unsalted butter so you can control the salt
- Sugar – granulated sugar adds sweetness to the crust
- Salt – use fine sea salt to balance the sweetness
- Egg yolk – creates a tender dough
- Vanilla extract – use homemade vanilla for the best taste and aroma
- All-purpose flour – creates an ideal, sturdy crumb
How to Make Crust for Tarts
This dough is so easy to make and comes together in the bowl of a mixer (although you could make it by hand with a firm spatula and a mixing bowl).
- Cream together sugar, salt, and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment.
- Add yolk and vanilla and beat to incorporate.
- Add flour and mix until a dough forms.
- Press dough squarely and evenly into the tart pan and trim off the edges.
- Bake over a baking sheet in the center of a preheated oven until golden brown.
- Cool on a rack then remove from the mold. Now you can use it to make a Fruit Tart.
Pro Tip: Use a non-stick tart pan with a removable bottom which will make it much easier to remove the mold after the crust has baked and cooled. To remove the outer ring, you can place the tart over something that is narrower than the ring and gently pull down the outer ring to remove it. You can then slide a knife gently around the base to help the tart slide off the base easily or serve it on the base.
This is a sweet pastry dough that is pre-baked and is often used for pies that don’t require any further baking after being filled. That makes it perfect for fresh fruit tarts.
Pâte Brisée is more of the traditional Pie Crust. It’s flakier and tends to puff out of shape while baking which makes it more ideal for a classic filled and baked pie such as Apple Pie or Blueberry Pie. Pâte Sucrée incorporates egg and is a short-flake crust that is more cookie-like and crumbly.
Be sure the tart dough is cooled to room temperature before removing the tart pan. If the dough is warm, it will be softer and more likely to break.
Use a 11″ or 10″ “tart pan with removable bottom, or use a 9-inch square tart pan. This recipe will work for a 9” round tart pan, but will be a little thicker crust with a slightly longer baking time.
Make-Ahead Tart Crust
There are so many great options to make this sweet tart crust ahead of time, before or after it is baked:
- Baked tart crust – can be covered and kept at room temperature for up to 3 days
- Raw tart dough – can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.
- Frozen raw tart dough – cover tightly with several layers of plastic wrap then set inside a freezer-safe zip bag, remove excess air and freeze for up to 3 months.
- To Thaw – place frozen tart dough in the refrigerator overnight before using then let it sit at room temperature just until it’s softened and malleable enough to press into the tart pan
More Homemade Pastry Recipes
Learning basic pastry recipes like this Sweet Tart Crust will give you confidence for experimenting with new recipes and variations. Many pastries call for the same basic dough recipes. For example, the choux pastry dough used to make Cream Puffs is also used to make Churros!
Sweet Tart Crust (Pâte Sucrée)
In the bowl of a stand mixture fitted with the paddle attachment, combine sugar, salt, and butter and cream together on medium speed just until combined (2-3 minutes), scraping down the bowl as needed.
Add egg yolk and vanilla and beat until incorporated, scraping down the bowl as needed.
Add flour and mix on low speed until the flour is fully incorporated and dough comes together (1 minute). Transfer dough to a clean work surface and shape the dough into a flat disk. Press the dough into an 11-inch or 10-inch round tart pan. The dough should be about 1/4” thick on the bottom and sides of the pan.
Use the bottom of a measuring cup to press the corners squarely. Flatten the finished top edge with your fingertips or trim the top edge with a paring knife so it sits flush in line with the top of the tart pan (I repurpose any scraps by patching any thin-looking areas). Cover with plastic wrap and freeze 30 minutes while you preheat the oven.
Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Set the tart pan over a baking sheet to make it easier to transfer and Bake at 350˚F in the center of the oven for 25-28 minutes or until golden brown then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Once the dough is at room temperature, carefully remove the outer rim by pushing on the base of the mold. To release from the base, carefully insert a knife between the pan and the crust to release, moving around the edges of the pan until the base releases easily.