Basic tart shell

Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Yields Makes 1 (9-inch) tart shell or a (9-inch) deep-dish pie crust
Basic tart shell

Place the sugar, salt and 1 cup of the flour in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Turn the mixer to low speed and add the butter a small handful at a time.


When all the butter has been added, increase the speed to medium and mix until the butter is completely blended with the flour. Reduce the speed, add the remaining flour and mix just to combine.


A little at a time, add one-fourth cup ice water and mix until the dough gathers around the paddle and pulls cleanly away from the sides of the bowl. It should feel smooth, not sticky. (Alternately, the basic dough can be processed in a food processor. Place the flour, sugar and salt in the food processor. Pulse the processor a few times to incorporate. Add several chunks of butter at a time, pulsing once or twice between additions. When all the butter has been added, sprinkle in the flour about one-fourth cup at a time, pulsing once or twice between additions, just until combined. Add the water a little at a time, pulsing between additions, just until the dough starts to gather together and pull away from the bowl.)


Remove the dough from the mixer and check to be certain there are no visible pieces of butter remaining; if necessary, return the dough to the mixer and mix briefly again. Pat the dough into a 7- to 8-inch disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to a day. (If the dough does not rest, it will shrink as it bakes.)


Place the dough on a floured work surface and rub on all sides with flour. Flatten it into a larger circle using a rolling pin or the heel of your hand. Roll the rolling pin back and forth across the dough a few times, then turn it 90 degrees and roll again. Continue to turn and roll until the dough is one-fourth inch thick and about 14 inches in diameter. (If the kitchen is hot and the dough has become very soft, move it to a baking sheet and refrigerate for a few minutes.)


To lift the dough into the tart pan, place the rolling pin across the dough about one-quarter of the way up from the bottom edge, fold the bottom edge of the dough up and over the pin, and roll the dough up on the rolling pin. Lift the dough on the pin and hold it over the pan, centering it. Carefully lower the dough into the pan, pressing it gently against the sides and into the bottom.


Trim any dough that extends more than an inch over the sides of the pan and reserve the scraps. Fold the excess dough over, doubling the thickness of the sides of the shell. Place in the refrigerator or freezer for at least 20 minutes to resolidify the butter.


Place a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 375 degrees. Line the shell with a 15-inch round of parchment paper or aluminum foil. Fill the shell with pie weights or dried beans, gently guiding the weights into the corners of the shell and filling the shell completely. Place the tart pan on a sheet pan, and bake the shell until the edges of the dough are lightly browned but the bottom is still light in color, 35 to 45 minutes.


Carefully remove the parchment and weights. Return the shell to the oven until the bottom is a rich golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow the shell to cool completely before filling.

Adapted from “Bouchon” by Thomas Keller.

Russ Parsons is a former food writer and columnist at the Los Angeles Times.
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