Sugar Tart Crust

This is my favorite sweet tart dough due to its crispness, sweetness and ease of preparation. The key is the cake flour, which because of its low protein content, makes the dough particularly crisp and prevents it from shrinking. You do not even need to line it while blind baking; just make sure to chill it well.

Makes 1 10-inch tart crust

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at cool room temperature, cut into small pieces

5 tablespoons sugar

1 large egg yolk

1 1/4 cups sifted cake flour

Coat a 10-inch loose-bottomed fluted tart pan with nonstick spray; set aside.

Beat butter in mixer’s bowl until creamy with flat paddle on medium-high speed, about 1 minute. Add sugar gradually and continue to beat, about 2 minutes at medium-high speed, until lightened and creamy. Beat in the egg yolk until well combined. Add flour and pulse the mixer on and off until it begins to combine, then run mixer on low-medium speed just until dough begins to form. Scrape out onto plastic wrap and use wrap to help press into a ball shape. Wrap the dough thoroughly. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Roll out on lightly floured surface to a 13-inch round and fit into pan, pressing into corners and trimming top. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or freeze for 15 minutes while oven preheats. At this point, you can double wrap the tart shell very well in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil and refrigerate up to 2 days before baking, or freeze up to 1 week.

Position rack in middle of oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. For a partially baked tart shell, bake directly on oven rack for about 8 to 12 minutes or just until it feels dry to the touch and is beginning to color around edges. For a fully baked tart shell, bake directly on oven rack for about 15 to 20 minutes or just until it is very light golden brown. Check about halfway through baking; if crust is puffing up, gently press back down with back of a fork. Cool completely on rack. Fill and proceed as directed in recipes.

Tip: Tart pans are measured in all sorts of ways, it appears, because when you actually measure one that is “supposed” to be 10-inches, you can get everything from 9 3/4-inch all the way up to 10 1/4-inch or odd measurements in-between. I use a true 10-inch pan; take the measurement across the bottom, edge to edge. If you are in a hurry, you can pat the freshly made dough right into the prepared pan using floured fingers. The tart shell will not look as neat as one that is rolled out, but it will work. Chill and proceed as described.