Frankly, I was a little intimidated by all these cookbooks with tart recipes. It sounded great, and whenever I had had one, I really liked it, but a recipe that called with 3 1/3 cups of flour plus 2 tbsp seemed a little much. Enter Ratio, and a world of ease.
Tarts are really just fancy pizzas where the dough is made with fat instead of just the 5:3 of flour to water like regular bread dough. The ratio for a plain savory tart is as easy as it gets-3:2:1 by weight. Go find a good round tart pan with a removable bottom (the one we have has a 9 in diameter), and get started.
Basic tart dough
9 oz AP flour
6 oz of chilled butter cut into pieced (stick and a half. No seriously!)
ice water approximately 3 oz
pinch of salt
Want a pate sucre (pie dough)? Add 1/2 cup of sugar to this recipe and you have it.
The key here is consistency of the dough. I find it easiest to use the food processor with a large cutting blade. As with any dough, the amount of water required depends a heck of a lot more the hydration of the flour than on anything else. Case in point: if the flour has been in the freezer, it’s dehydrated and requires much more water.
Measure out your butter and flour, and pulse in the food processor until it looks like wet sand. Add cold water a tsp or two at a time until the dough “catches” in the processor. Personally, I think that the wetter the dough, the flakier it will be because that water converts to steam in the oven and will give it the consistency of a croissant.
Flatten the dough into a disc, cover with plastic wrap, and stick it in the fridge until you’re ready to go. This achieves a couple of things. Foremost is that it redistributes the hydration throughout the dough, but it also keeps the butter chilled until you’re ready for it. You don’t want to beat up your flour or the pastry becomes a little tough, like a scone.
For most tarts or pies, you should blind bake. Get some beans that you don’t care about, lay some parchment paper down on the tart, and use the beans as your pie weights. Bake at 350-400 for about 30 minutes or so, until the crust is browning, being careful to not overcook.
From there, you can do whatever you want! The tart I have pictured is one where I quick sauteed some yellow squash and onion, adding some tomato, goat cheese, and thyme.
**Keep in mind that while using something with a lot of liquid like tomato, salt them and allow them to drain well before adding to the tart. The other option is put some sealant in the bottom of the tart dough like dijon mustard which groups well with the flavor profile I’m describing.
If you want a sweeter version and you don’t have the tart pan, take a basic pate sucre (see above), peel and core 4 apples (Granny Smith or something tart from North GA since they’re in season), slice to about 1/4″. If you can’t use them right away, put them in acidulated water (water with lemon juice) to prevent oxidation. Take your dough, roll it circular until it’s about 3-5 mm thick. Lay it on a SilPat. Take your apples and lay them overlapping each other in a circle until you’re out of them. Leave about 1.5 inches of margin at the edge of the dough. Fold the edges up, sprinkle some regular or brown sugar over the apples, and bake at 350-400, again lower if you have convection. You can grate some fresh cinnamon or nutmeg on it as well. I’ll link to another site for pics until I get mine up. The tart is done when the crust is brown and the apples are cooked, about 30-45 minutes.
**For an added finishing touch, take some apricot jam and spread it over the apples. I’ve also done this with mayhaw jelly, but you could use anything that compliments the apples, something sweet and tart.
Mystery no more. You’ll laugh at how easy this is.