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How To Make the perfect Tart or Quiche Crust

Updated: Apr 26

how to make your own crust

When I started with tarts, tartlets, quiches, I always thought it was too much of a hassle to prepare my own pastry dough so I bought ready-made frozen dough. Over time and after the first attempt, I instantly realised how foolish I had been. Believe me, it's so much easier, even faster, to do home than seeking around for a pre-made (not easy to find a good one), and can be done with 4 simple ingredients: flour, butter, egg, water plus a couple more additions to fine-tune it, but not necessarily mandatory. No yeast, no rising, no special kneading technique, no reasons to fail.

I have to admit making your own dough and baking is chemistry so you have to accept a couple of failures as first-timer. My suggestion is to use twice the quantities of this recipe to keep a spare dough for the first time you attempt. You don't have to be a baker, just need to spare a couple of doughs and some time to basically see how your oven bakes your dough. Quite often there are variations on how different oven brands bake so you have to tweak the temperatures and levels until you get the perfect bake. Another point of failure can be the soggy base, I am also still perfecting my base baking.

Rest assured following my steps and techniques below you'll bake a great crust pain-free and with a minimum possibility of failure. Keep the extra dough though, just in case ;-)

One thing is for sure, tarts are DELICIOUS, VERSATILE as they can accommodate savoury or sweet content, KIDS AND GROWN-UPS LOVE them and they are IMPRESSIVE when served. It's worth giving it a try.

Here we go...

Step 1: Gear Up

Equipment you'll need:

  • A big mixing bowl,

  • A couple of small bowls to measure butter and olive oil,

  • A rolling pin,

  • An electric mixer with dough hooks, but this is optional as you can work the dough with hands too.

  • 23cm tart tin (the ingredients below are calculated for this size of tin). I recommend this one from Amazon which is perforated for a better base bake and has a removable base to easily serve your tart. The quantities also yield for 6 small 8-10cm tartlet tins (like these)

  • Foil or baking paper.

It's really important to get high-quality butter and whatever else is required (like in my version, olive oil). I also like flour blends to give some nutty tones, but a simple 200g (a little less than 2 cups) of plain flour works perfectly too.

Measure the following quantities:

  • 100g Plain flour

  • 100g Other tasty flour (Buckwheat or Spelt)

  • 60g Unsalted butter, room temperature, diced

  • 1 Small egg (if big, just use the yolk)

  • 4 tbsp Cold Water (around 80ml)

  • 20 ml Extra virgin olive oil (optional)

  • 40g grated Parmesan (optional)

  • 1 tsp Poppy seeds (optional)

  • Pinch of salt/pinch of pepper or nutmeg

Step 2: Timings

The quick way (without overnight dough chilling) estimates a 1h 30m in total for the crust preparation which splits as follows:

  • 10-15 minutes to mix ingredients and prepare the dough

  • 1 hour in the fridge to allow the dough firm up.

  • 20 min to bring the dough down to room temperature before you work it.

Ideally, you better prepare the dough the night before baking and chill overnight (see step 4).

Step 3: Make the Dough

Whisk the flour with the parmesan (if using) and salt in a bowl. Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the dry ingredients until it looks like crumble:

Using the electric mixer with the dough hooks (or your hands in absence of mixer) add the poppy seeds (if using) the egg and the olive oil and start beating and adding gradually the cold water until it becomes a rough dough. If it's too soggy or very sticky you've probably poured more water than needed. Add some more flour and re-work it.

Step 4: Refrigerate

Remove from bowl, and press the dough gently with your hands to form a ball. Don't over-knead it, just form a small ball. The less you work the dough the lighter the texture will be. In the end, the dough should feel light, airy and soft which means you have achieved the desired consistency. Wrap the dough in cling film and refrigerate for 1 hour or preferably overnight. The basic rule of thumb is: the more you chill the dough, the better consistency you achieve. I usually prepare it the night before and refrigerate it overnight.

Step 5: Prepare for Rolling

Take the dough out of the fridge 20 minutes before you start baking. This will bring the dough down to near room temperature so it will be easier to work and roll it.

Preheat the oven to 180c (160c) fan.

Step 6: Roll and lay

On a lightly flour-dusted surface, use your rolling pin and spread the dough to around 2-3mm thick and a little wider than your tin's diameter. Roll the pastry up around the rolling pin, and then carefully unroll it to cover your tart tin.

Gently press the pastry into the tin moulding it to the tin as you go round. If you really like tarts, get a non-stick tart tin with holes and a removable loose bottom, see the recommended product at the end of this post. Don’t worry if it breaks, you may patch up any holes with spare pastry

Cut the remaining edges along the rim of the tin and use the spare pastry to patch up any hole in the tin or use it to reinforce the sides. With a fork, drill some holes across the base.

Step 7: Blind Bake

Blind baking is the process of baking the crust without any filling and covered with parchment paper or foil. It is an important procedure as the baking time with the filling is not enough to create a crunchy crust and you might end up with a soggy base. Also, you will need to press down the paper using some weights as the base might bubble up (fats are expanding when baked).

Lay the foil (or baking paper) on top of your tin and press down around the circumference. Add the weights (I used rice, but use whatever is available, beans or even little pebbles will do) and bake for around 20 mins at 160c fan.

Every oven is different so this time may vary. I suggest keeping an eye every now and then.

Note: In the meantime, use these 20 mins to prepare your tart/quiche filling. Look at this or this post to get some ideas.

Step 8: Re-bake

Remove from oven and lift the weights off the tin. Covered baking will create steam and your base will look soggy when you lift the weights (photo)

The solution to this is to re-bake.

Put it back in the oven uncovered and bake for another 5 minutes or until properly baked. If bubbles are formed during re-baking, pierce them with a fork. Keep a close eye on this crucial re-bake for 5 minutes. Do not bake more than 25-30 min (in total) as the crust will be baked again later on with the filling.

Good Luck!

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