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The Art of Tarts

Tarts can be sweet or savory and have only a bottom layer of crust. Unlike a pie, the sides of tarts are commonly very shallow, and they are never made with a layer of pastry on top.

Tarts can have a sweet or savory filling, but tarts are usually sweet nowadays. Traditionally tart crusts are made from shortbread pastry dough. Tart crusts are firm and crumbly. Tarts are most commonly baked in a pastry ring on a baking sheet or a pan with a removable bottom. This is done so the dish can be easily unmolded before being served.

One of the most important ingredients in the crust recipe is butter. Chilled butter is an essential step in keeping the tart crust crisp. Start with high-quality, chilled butter.

When you find cold water or milk listed as one of the ingredients in a tart crust recipe, its role is only to bring the dough together. This step helps to ensure the dough is moist enough to be flattened and shaped later. Adding too much liquid to the dough will only make it too soft, which won’t give you a flaky and crispy crust.

Before rolling the dough, it should be chilled to let the gluten relax. I recommend chilling the dough for about an hour. If chilled longer, it becomes too stiff to work easily. Giving the dough time to chill makes it easier to roll out and will keep it from shrinking while it bakes!

When rolling your dough, be very careful and keep all sides as even as possible. If the dough is cracking, it is too cold to roll. This is remedied by leaving it at room temperature until it becomes softer. Overhandling the dough can result in a tough crust.

Once the dough is placed in the baking tart pan, put it in the fridge for an hour or two before baking to make the butter firm. Chilling the crust before baking ensures the dough will retain its shape while baking.

Using a fork, prick the tart all-around before baking to prevent it from shrinking while baking. It will also prevent the crust from puffing in the center while baking.

Make sure the oven’s temperature is hot enough to bake your tart crust. If the oven is not preheated, the dough won’t be properly baked.

Some tarts are completely blind-baked, and a filling is added and served. Other tarts are partially baked and afterward rebaked with a filling added. The oven should be fully preheated before the pastry is baked. Remember, the browner the tart, the crispier it is.

There is something glorious about a fresh raspberry fruit tart. When baking with fruit, it is crucial to use the best quality. Raspberries make a great tart, so if you make one, make sure to look for berries that are deep red in color. You also want them to be juicy and plump, and the cores should not be attached. Skip raspberries with cores still attached because they were picked too early, meaning they will be sour. Like all fruit, you do not want it too ripe, so stay away from mushy and soft berries or black spots, bruises, and mold. Check the sides and bottom of the container and pass by those with squashed berries or red stains. Use raspberries of uniform size to make your tart look its best.

Trying to bake a new type of pastry for the very first time might be scary, but with the right tools and a good recipe, anybody can create beautiful tarts. As with all baking, practice makes perfect!

A fruit tart comes together quickly but looks like it came straight out of a French pâtisserie window. After the first bite of a raspberry tart, you will find it hard to put your fork down!

Here is an easy tart crust recipe for you.


Written by Vicki Hayman, MS, University of Wyoming Extension Nutrition and Food Safety Educator


  • Baking by Dorie Greenspan
  • Ohio State University Extension
  • USDA National Nutrient Database
  • Utah State University Cooperative Extension

Sweet Tart Crust


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 9 Tablespoons butter Cut into small pieces or grated
  • 1 large egg


  • 1.      Pulse the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor bowl. Add the butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in.
  • Stir in egg and add it a little at a time to the flour mixture, pulsing after each addition. When all the egg is added, process the mixture un til the dough forms clumps and starts pulling together into a ball. Do not over-mix.
  • Turn the dough onto a work surface and knead the dough just enough to incorperate any dry ingredients.
  • If pressing the dough, use two-thirds of the mixture to press it evenly around the sides. The sides will be thicker than the bottom. Press the remaining dough firmly into the bottom of the tart with your palm. Use a straight-sided, round measuring cup to pack the bottom and sides to make the surface smooth.
  • If rolling the dough, chill it, wrapped in plastic, for aboputone hour before proceeding.
  • Butter a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom
  • Roll out the chilled dough on a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper at least one inch bigger than the tart pan and about 1/8 inch thick. Once the crust is rolled out, place the tart pan on top of the dough and check to see if it is large enough.
  • Flip the crust onto the tart pan, peel off the paper, and then gently press the crust into place. seal any cracks in the dough. Trim the overhang to 1/2 inch. Fold the overhanging dough into the side of the pan, forming double-thick sides. To finish the edges of the tart pan, roll the rolling pin along the top of the pan. Pierce the crust all over with a fork.
  • Before baking, freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer.
  • Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F. Butter one side of a piece of aluminum foil (or use nonstick foil) and fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust. Put the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake the crst for 20 to 25 minutes.
  • Carefully remove the foil. if the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon. To fully bake the crust, cook it another 10 minutes or until it is golden brown. For a no-bake filling recipe, fully bake the crust. To only partially bake it, cook it for an additional 5 minutes. Tranfer the pan to a racl, cool the crust to room teperature , and proceed with the rest of your recipe.

Contact Our Expert!


Extension Educator:
Vicki Hayman – (307) 746-3531

University of Wyoming Extension

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Extension Educator:
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Issued in furtherance of extension work, acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Kelly Crane, Director, University of Wyoming Extension, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Wyoming Extension, University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming 82071.

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