Tarts are one of my favorite desserts especially when they are prepared with a “pâte sucrée”. The first things I check when I have one in front of me are the color and the thickness of the crust: it has to be golden and thin (around 2mm), which makes it crispy, crumbly with a nice roasted taste.
- Stand mixer with flat beater
- Cling wrap
- 8cm stainless steel tart rings (Silikomart Kit Tarte Ring 80 check picture below)
- 150 g Butter At room temperature
- 1 g Fleur de sel French sea salt
- 95 g Icing sugar
- 1 piece Vanilla pod
- 30 g Almond powder
- 60 g Egg One large egg, at room temperature
- 250 g Flour All purpose - Cake flour - Type 45
- Cut the butter in small cubes and let it soften at room temperature for 30 minutes. At the same time take the egg out of the refregirator.
- Place the soft butter in the bowl of the stand mixer equipped with the flat beater.
- Mix it at high speed with the icing sugar and vanilla seeds until getting a smooth texture.
- Add the salt and the almond powder and combine.
- Add the egg and mix (no need to wait until getting a smooth texture)
- Sift the flour.
- Add approximately 1/4 to the dough and mix at medium speed for a few seconds to combine.
- Add the rest of the flour and mix at low speed JUST until combined. Do not overwork the dough otherwise it will become elastic and shrink during the baking. At this stage the dough is "creamy" and that's normal.
- Place it on a cling wrap and flatten it with your hands (approximately 3cm thickness). Wrap it properly and let it rest for at least 3 hours.
- Grease the rings and place them on a tray covered with a silicone mat or parchment paper.
- For each ring, take 35g of dough and roll it out to a thickness of 2mm. This is the easiest way to line the ring, but it doesn't provide the best finishing for the small rings (check below the other technique).
- Line each ring and place it in the refrigerator until you finish lining the others. Do not cut the excess dough at this stage.
- Once all the rings are lined, place them in the refrigerator again for at least 1 hour. I personnaly prefer to line the rings in the evening and let them rest in the fridge overnight.
- Preheat the oven at 160°C (165°C for large tarts).
- Cut the excess dough with a sharp knife. It's better to do it once the dough is cooled rather than just after lining it, the finishing will be neat.
- Line the pastry with parchment paper, or baking cups (very convenient for small rings). Fill them with baking beans. Please note that if you let the dough rest overnight once the rings lined, you can skip this step.
- If you wish to bake the pastry with almond cream:- bake for 10 minutes,- remove the parchment paper with the beans and bake for 5 minutes,- fill the shells with almond cream and bake for 10 minutes,- remove the rings and continue baking for 5 minutes until getting nice golden shells.
- If you wish to blind-bake the shells ("cuisson à blanc"):- bake for 10 minutes,- remove the parchment paper with the beans and bake for 10 minutes, - remove the rings and continue baking for 5 to 7 minutes until getting nice golden shells.
I always prepare this almond shortcrust with the quantities above, use what I need and freeze the rest of the dough for a maximum of one month, wrapped properly in a cling wrap and placed in an airtight container.
When preparing the dough, try not to overwork it in order to get a light and crumbly pastry. Actually the more you work and beat the batter, the more the gluten will be activated and will form elastic strands, making the dough tough and stretchy and thus will shrink when baked.
I rarely freeze it once cooked, but it can be done for a few days, especially if you don’t have the time to prepare the whole tart on the same day. You can for instance freeze the crust half-cooked, and when needed you just finish blind-cooking it or fill it with almond cream and cook it, in both cases without unfreezing it.
This dough requires 3 hours of resting time, try to respect it, otherwise it will shrink in the oven. And once lined on the tin, it needs at least one more hour to rest. What I generally do: I prepare the dough in the evening, let it rest overnight, and in the morning I line the mold, and bake after at least one hour.