Flaky Pastry Tart Shells

READY IN: 1hr 30mins




  • Place the flour, butter, and salt in a food processor fitted with a steel blade.
  • Pulse about 24 times, then open the machine and lift a nadful of crumbs. The largest pieces of butter should be the size of raw grains of rice or barley, if larger, pulse again.
  • When the butter pieces are the correct size, transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl.
  • Sprinkle 6 Tbs of ice water onto the dough. Spread the fingers of one hand, and using your rigid fingertips as if they were a large fork, stir the dough quickly and briefly until the liquid is incorporated.
  • Squeeze a handful of the dough in your palm; the dough should have just enough moisture to stay together.
  • Break the piece in half; if it seems dry and crumbly, cautiously add more water a few tsp at a time until you can squeeze it into a ball that will not brumble when broken apart.
  • The dough is easiest to work with immediately if your kitchen is reasonably cool, the butter was cold and you used ice water. If your kitchen is very warm, wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 15 minute.
  • Turn the pastry dough out on a lightly floured board and divide it inot quarters for small 7-inch tart shells or in half for large 10-inch shells.
  • Shape 1 piece of dough into a disk and dust the top lightly with flour.
  • Begin to roll out the dough, using quick but gentle strokes with the pin. Start with the pin in the middle of the round and roll to the top, then the bottom.
  • Rotate the dough 1/4 turn each time you roll to be sure the dough is not sticking and use additional flour as necessary.
  • When the round is larger than 9 inches for a small tart or 12 inches for a large tart and about 1/8-inch thick.
  • Trim the edges of the rounds if you want, but the edge is hand formed so it really doesn't matter all that much.
  • Fold 1/2-inch edge of dough all around to form a decorative rim.
  • Begin by folding a 1-inch long section over by 1/2 inch, then overlap the fold by half and roll another piece of dough over, pinching it firmly in place. Continue to roll and pinch, and a twisted rop pattern will form.
  • Roll out the remaining dough in the same way, and crimp edges in the same manner.
  • Transfer the pastry shells to baking sheets lined with parchment paper and poke the interior of the shells all over with the tines of a fork.
  • Refrigerate the pastry for at least 30 min or up to 24 hours. They can be frozen on the baking sheets, and when frozen, stack them inside freezer bags. Bake the shells without thawing.
  • Prebaking:Preheat the oven to 375ºF.
  • Brush the rims of the tarts with an egg wash.
  • Bake 1 baking sheet at a time for 15 min, then reduce the heat to 350ºF and continue to bake until they are an even golden brown, 8-12 min longer.
  • Lift a shell with a spatula and check that the underside is evenly brown. If the tart shells puff up during baking, press down the center of the pastry with the back of a large spoon.
  • Let cool on the baking sheet.