A sweet pastry crust should be toasty and crisp, buttery and lightly sweet. It should be deeply golden brown, full of texture and flavor, the perfect cookie shell for your sweet fillings of fruits, custards, curds and chocolates.
For pies and tarts that need very little baking time or no baking time at all, don’t risk a raw or soggy crust. BLIND BAKE it!
This sweet pastry crust recipe is good for 2 9-inch pie crusts or 2 10-inch shallow tarts.
- 3 cups (360 g) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon (6 g) sea salt
- 1 cup (226 g or 2 sticks) unsalted butter
- 2 egg yolks
- Up to 1/4 cup (60 ml) ice water
- 1 egg white
1. Freeze the butter.
– Cut the butter into small cubes or thin pats.
– Freeze the butter pieces for at least 30 minutes, until frozen hard.
2. Pulse the butter and the dry ingredients until resembling coarse crumbs.
– Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor. Pulse 2 or 3 times, until combined.
– Add the frozen butter to the flour mixture. Stir it up a bit to coat the butter pieces with flour.
– Pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
3. Pulse in the egg yolk and enough ice water until mixture just holds together.
– Add the egg yolk. Pulse until the yolk is evenly incorporated.
– Pour the ice water one tablespoon at a time and pulse until the mixture just holds together. (Squeeze a small amount together. If it crumbles in your hand, add more ice water, one tablespoon at a time, until it no longer crumbles apart.)
4. Form the mixture into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and then chill at least 30 minutes.
– Pour the mixture out onto the counter and bring everything together, kneading gently and very briefly, to form the dough into a disk.
– Wrap the disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
5. Roll out the dough into a large round about 1/8-inch thin.
– Remove the chilled dough from the fridge.
– On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a 1/8-inch thin round about an inch or two larger than the base of the tart or pie pan. (If the dough is too firm to roll out, let it rest at room temperature for about 15 minutes.)
– Lift and turn the dough as you work, keeping the work surface lightly dusted with flour to prevent sticking.
6. Ease the dough into the tart pan.
– Place the tart pan on a baking sheet for ease of movement.
– Pick up the dough by gently rolling it up around the rolling pin. Gently unroll it over the tart pan.
– Ease the dough into the tart pan, nudging it into the corners and fluted edges without stretching it.
– Fold extra crust inward to double the thickness of the outer crust. (This makes the crust a little sturdier.)
– Gently push the dough into the corners and crevices, making sure to press out any air bubbles.
– Use some extra dough or the bottom of a floured measuring cup to avoid tears or punctures while gently pressing in the dough.
Your sweet pastry crust is now ready to fill and bake!
To Blind Bake the Sweet Pastry Crust:
7. Freeze the unbaked sweet pastry crust for at least 30 minutes.
– Cover and place the sweet pastry crust in the freezer. Freeze for at least 30 minutes.
– At this point, the unbaked sweet pastry crust can be wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for 2 months, maybe longer.
8. Blind bake the sweet pastry crust with pie weights at 350°F(176°C) for 40 minutes.
– While the unbaked sweet pastry crust is in the freezer, preheat the oven to 350°F(176°C). Move the rack to the lower third position.
– Line the frozen sweet pastry crust with a large sheet of foil. The foil should be large enough to hang over the edges of the pastry shell. Fold the foil outward so that the edges of the pastry shell are protected from burning.
– Fill completely with pie weights. (You can use uncooked rice, dry beans or even sugar.)
– Bake for 40 minutes.
9. Remove the pie weights and brush the partially baked sweet pastry crust with egg white.
– Lift out the foil with the pie weights.
– Place the pastry shell back in the oven. Bake for another 5 minutes to dry the pastry shell a bit. (If the pastry shell is puffing anywhere, just lightly press the puffed areas down with a spatula.)
– Remove the pastry shell from the oven and lightly brush the pastry shell with a beaten egg white to coat.
10. Finish baking the sweet pastry crust until dry and golden, partially or fully, according to your need.
Partially baked crust: For pies and tarts with filling that will still need some baking.
- Return to the oven and continue to bake for another 5 minutes or until the inside of the pastry shell is just lightly golden inside.
Fully baked crust: For pies and tarts with no-bake fillings.
- Return to the oven and continue to bake for another 10 to 15 minutes or until the inside of the pastry shell is completely dry and a deep golden brown.
– Use a pie shield to protect the edges from over browning. If you don’t have a pie shield, you can cut one out of foil. (Fold and cut – like making a paper snowflake.)
11. Fill your sweet pastry crust and finish making your delicious tart or pie.
– Depending on your recipe, fill your partially baked sweet pastry crust and continue baking. Or cool your fully baked sweet pastry crust, fill, chill and serve!
ABOUT THIS RECIPE
A well-baked sweet pastry crust is a special thing. It should do so much more than just hold the filling together. It should elevate the entire dessert with deep golden brown color, a light, crispy texture and toasty flavor.
Take the time to handle the dough gently, roll it thin and get some good, deep color when baking it. And if there is any concern there won’t be sufficient baking time to get a good, crisp crust, blind bake it.
What is blind baking?
Blind baking is just pre-baking a pie or tart crust either partially or fully before adding any filling.
When is blind baking needed?
- Blind bake your sweet pastry crust for pies and tarts that have wet fillings, like wet custards or juicy fruits. Blind baking sets the crust and prevents the extra moisture from making it soggy.
- Also, blind baking assures that sweet pastry crusts are fully done and crispy when baking times are short.
- And, of course, blind baking is necessary for pies and tarts that have no-bake fillings.
Blind baking requires only a few extra steps and a little bit of extra effort. But the resulting golden brown, crispy crust with no soggy bottom makes it absolutely worthwhile.
1) Be sure to work the crust as little as possible for a tender, crisp crust.
1) Handle your ingredients just as much as necessary, no more.
- The more the dough is processed, kneaded or handled the higher the possibility your crust will be tough.
2) Give the dough plenty of resting/chilling time.
- Letting the dough rest and keeping it chilled will help keep the dough tender and relaxed. This will not only make it easier to roll out, but will also help the crust bake up tender and crisp.
2) When blind baking, it’s all about avoiding the “slump”!
When blind baking pie and tart crusts, especially those made with butter, they have a tendency to melt and ooze into one big cookie at the bottom of the tart or pie pan unless a little care is given to maintain its shape.
Shaping the dough to prevent slumping:
How you line your tart or pie pan with your sweet pastry dough can help prevent your crust from shrinking during baking. Here are two ways:
1) Fold extra crust inward to double the thickness of the outer crust.
- Doubling the outer crust makes it more sturdy and looks clean and polished. There may be a little shrinkage, but note that the shrinking is minimal and no height is lost.
2) Let the extra dough hang over and cling to the rim of the tart pan.
- This prevents any shrinking from happening, but then requires the extra overhanging crust to be trimmed off after baking.
Both are good options . Pick your preference!
Freezing the crust to set the shape:
Freeze your sweet pastry crust before baking for at least 30 minutes.
- Freezing will help the sweet pastry crust set and keep its shape during the bake before the butter melts and the dough becomes slumpy.
Using pie weights for extra support:
When ready to bake, line your sweet pastry crust with foil and fill with pie weights. The support of pie weights prevents the sides of the crust from slumping down and keeps the bottom from puffing up.
- Make sure to use a large enough piece of foil to protect the outer crusts from over-browning.
- If your foil is not wide enough, use overlapping criss-cross layers of foil or sheets of foil that are very securely folded together at the seam. (You don’t want any beans, rice or sugar spilling onto your crust! That would be tragic.)
- Ceramic pie weights, dry beans, uncooked rice and even sugar can be used as pie weights.
3) A couple of steps to to make sure your sweet pastry crust is golden brown and crispy:
Brush your sweet pastry with egg white.
All the care and time setting and baking the tart shell to a nice crisp is wasted if not protected from wet fillings.
- Brushing the tart shell with a little egg white and then drying it in the oven will create a barrier from wet fillings and will keep the crust nice and crispy.
Take the time needed for blind baking. It’s longer than you think!
– You need at least 40 minutes for the crust to set during a blind bake and 5 to 15 more minutes to brown and crisp. That may seem like a long time. But it’s a good, long bake that will ensure your crust has great color, texture and taste.
- Don’t be afraid of baking your tart shell to a deep, brown color. It will have that delicious toasty flavor and great crispy texture.
This dough is forgiving. (All mistakes will be hidden, anyway.)
– Trouble spots: For any rips, tears, thin spots or holes, just press a little extra dough over the trouble spots. Smooth over the patched areas with the back of a spoon or the bottom of a floured measuring cup.
– Too crumbly: If the dough is a little too crumbly to roll out (maybe there wasn’t quite enough water), just press it into the tart pan like you would a cookie crust. It may not look as beautiful and smooth, but it will still be crisp and delicious.
– Too sticky: If the dough is too sticky to roll out, (maybe there was too much water or your kitchen is hot), lightly dust the counter, the dough and the rolling pin with just enough flour to contain the stickiness.
– Difficult to transfer: Rolled out dough that is too fragile to pick up with your rolling pin in one piece can be placed in the pie plate or tart pan in pieces. Just press the seams together to seal.
– Cracks or rifts in baked shell: Seal any cracks or rifts in baked crusts (still hot, just out of the oven) with a bit of extra raw dough. Then just place back in the hot oven for a minute or two.
Creamy Lemon Tart (with Sweet Mascarpone and Crisp Butter Crust) (Recipe coming soon)
That toasty flavor of a well-baked sweet pastry shell comes from the Maillard reaction. Learn more: