Pierre Hermé’s Perfect Tart Dough

Posted on March 20, 2007 by S

ducktart.jpg

You know, it does come quite close to perfection. The fact that it turned out right on my first attempt has already raised my esteem for Monsieur Hermé by quite a number of notches. I’m not sure what your experience with making tart dough has been like, but mine involved attempting every single pie crust/tart recipe in my possession. I chilled everything, froze half my butter, used shortening, played with pastry flour, and experimented with lemon juice. I stopped short of consulting the stars before I embarked on each tart-related endeavour. So, after working my way through a significant number of recipes, I finally arrived at Pierre Hermé’s Perfect Tart Dough (or pâte brisée). He literally calls it Perfect Tart Dough. And I can see why. It isn’t a classic pâte brisée, but I do adore the richness of this crust. It is crisp and flavourful, and equally delicious with a sweet or savoury filling.

For a quick lunch earlier this week, I sautéed some diced onion and oyster mushrooms in butter before tossing in an eighth of a batch of Chef Roberto Galetti’s Braised Duck Sauce (I tweaked it for more family-friendly portions by using 250g each of celery, carrots and onions, 1.5 kg or six duck legs, 850g or 2 cans whole peeled tomatoes, 400ml red wine, and just enough chicken stock to cover the duck legs; incidentally this sauce freezes well). Next, I grated some Parmigiano-Reggiano into it before spooning the mixture into pre-baked individual tartlets. Served with a small salad, it made for a satisfying meal.

Pierre Hermé’s Perfect Tart Dough
Adapted from Desserts by Pierre Hermé written by Dorie Greenspan, a book that I highly recommend.

370g unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (90ml) milk, at room temperature
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 ½ cups (500g) all-purpose flour

Put the butter in the bowl of your KitchenAid fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on low speed until creamy. Add the milk, yolk, sugar and salt, and beat until the mixture is roughly blended. (At this point, the mixture will look curdled. Further mixing will not make it look any better, so stop after a minute or two.) With the mixer still on low, add the flour in three or four additions (if your mixer has a plastic pouring shield, use it). Add the flour steadily. There is no need to wait for the flour to be incorporated thoroughly after each addition. Mix just until the ingredients come together to form a soft, moist dough that doesn’t clean the sides of the bowl completely but does hold together. Don’t overdo it.

smallkitchenaid.jpgGather the dough into a ball and divide it into three or four pieces: three pieces for 10 ¼ inch tarts, four for 8 ¾ inch tarts. (With four discs, you should be able to make eight to ten 3 ½ inch tartlets.) Gently press each piece into a disk and wrap each disk in plastic. Allow the dough to rest in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or for up to 2 days before rolling and baking. At this stage, the dough can be wrapped airtight and frozen for up to a month.

For each tart, butter a tart ring and keep it close at hand. Work with one piece of dough at a time; keep the remaining dough in the refrigerator.

Working on a lightly floured surface, roll the dough between 1/16 and 1/8 inch thick, lifting it often and making certain that the work surface and the dough are amply floured at all times. I found that simply flouring the rolling pin was adequate (I rolled my dough on sheets of GladBake). Although the recipe cautioned that the rich dough might be difficult to roll, I found it relatively easy to handle; especially since it responded well to careful patching with scraps of unused dough.

The recipe proceeds directly to instructions for lining your tart ring. However, my un-airconditioned kitchen in the tropics makes this a bit of a challenge. I refrigerated the rolled out dough for 15-20 minutes before I fitted it into the tart ring. The regular rules apply: don’t stretch the dough as you line the ring; run your rolling pin across the top of the ring to cut off the excess; patch cracks with scraps. Prick the dough all over with the tines of a fork (unless you intend to fill the tart with runny custard or a loose filling) and chill for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator or freezer (I opted for the freezer). Repeat with the remaining dough if necessary.

To bake the crust, preheat the oven to 350 degree Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius). Line each crust with parchment paper or aluminium foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans or rice. To partially bake, bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until lightly coloured. If the crust needs to be fully baked, remove the parchment and pie weights and bake for another 5 to 8 minutes, or until golden. Transfer the crust to a rack to cool.

About Su-Lyn Tan

Su-Lyn is Aun's better half and for many years, the secret Editor behind this blog known to readers simply as S. Su-Lyn is an obsessive cook and critical eater whose two favourite pastimes are spending time with her son and spending time in the kitchen. She looks forward to combining the two in the years to come.

What Others Are Saying

  1. Kate March 20, 2007 at 11:31 pm

    oh these tarts look so neat and pretty.Mine always end up looking so shabby and uneven around the corners.and duck…mmm yummy !

  2. tara March 21, 2007 at 5:49 am

    I will surely be raising Mr. Hermé in my books as well – as if he needed a boost! A reliably perfect tart dough is a boon indeed. I love all pies, both sweet and savoury; yours look particularly delicious. I shall surely try them for a spring luncheon.

  3. Tony March 21, 2007 at 2:00 pm

    Can you advise what is 1/3 cup plus

  4. Chubby Hubby March 21, 2007 at 6:20 pm

    Tony, sorry… there was a typo that we’ve now fixed. It’s 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon milk. Cheers.

  5. Brigitte March 21, 2007 at 6:35 pm

    Hmmmmmh… they look simply delicious. I’m going to check this book out.

  6. Jeanne March 22, 2007 at 1:12 am

    Oh wow – what a beautiful tart – not a crumb out of place! And I have to admit to a deep envy of your aquamarine Kitchenaid… ;-)

  7. Mandy March 23, 2007 at 7:50 am

    wow~ love your filling idea! Too bad it’s not convenient to get duck leg here in the US…

  8. Lynn March 24, 2007 at 5:58 am

    wow this brisee recipe has like 3 times the normal amount of butter. It must be so flaky and crumbly! Was it melting fast when you were rolling it out?

    ditto jeanne on your choice of color for the KitchenAid!

  9. S March 25, 2007 at 9:18 pm

    Hi Lynn, surprisingly, it wasn’t too difficult to work with. I had it on a sheet of GladBake and used my lightly floured rolling pin directly on it. Plus, I was doing it in the afternoon (usually not the coolest time of day for my kitchen). I must admit that I was rather lackadasical about the whole process. Made the dough, froze it for a couple of days, left it defrosting in the fridge for a few other days, then rolled it out. I actually left it in the freezer overnight and baked it the following morning.

  10. tanya March 27, 2007 at 8:40 pm

    nice & perfect tart!

    Can U advise me on oven? intend to bby one.

  11. S March 28, 2007 at 2:07 pm

    Hi Tanya

    Which brand you pick really depends heavily on your budget. If you have the budget to invest in a high-end oven, I would recommend Miele because I am constantly surprised by the fact that the temperature I set it at and the temperature my oven thermometer reads inside it matches. You’d be surprised, but many ovens are not able to achieve this. But I have to admit that for many of us, a Miele oven would be a heavy investment. My second choice would be De Dietrich.

    But these are just my recommendations based on my own personal experience.

    I asked a pastry chef friend what he would recommend. He agreed with my choice of Miele and De Dietrich (although I must admit that my De Dietrich tends to overheat). But we both feel that the important thing when shopping for an oven is to pick one that matches your budget. When picking from the ones that suit your price range, go for a convection oven. Make sure that the fan blows from the back of the oven rather than from the side or top as this heavily affects the way your tarts and cakes turn out. I also like it when the oven lets you choose whether to use the fan or not, and whether you just want the heat from just the top, just the bottom or both top and bottom.
    The other thing to invest in is an oven thermometer. They are relatively inexpensive. I find having one invaluable.

    I have always heard good things about the Baby Belling. However, I personally feel that being able to look into the oven while things are cooking is very important. The Baby Belling doesn’t have a see through oven door, so I’ve never considered purchasing it. But it may appeal to you. I hope all this helps!

  12. tanya March 29, 2007 at 9:49 pm

    S & Ch,

    Thanks a lot for detailed info. Really appreciate UR efforts for sharing valuable info plus recipes!
    gr8!

  13. Y April 28, 2007 at 9:07 pm

    A friend of mine is in Paris at the moment, attending a pastry course. She msg-ed me the other day excited at having met Mr. Herme himself.

    I love a recipe that works the first time round. Will have to keep this goodie in mind next time I want to make a savoury tart.

  14. claudia saraniecki January 6, 2008 at 11:50 am

    I too have tried a dozen recipes for pastry dough. I was floored at how easy, crisp, delicious, and flaky this crust turns out. I have had PH’s books for years, yet never tried this recipe. Thanks! babushkabakery.com

  15. KolaX April 2, 2008 at 11:21 pm

    any1 know where i can lay my hands on Pierre Hermé ‘s PH10 , Dessert and chocolate Desserts book in Singapore ? thanks

  16. De Dietrich January 1, 2009 at 9:34 pm

    Looks fantastic I have to try!

  17. Page June 7, 2010 at 9:45 am

    I tried this recipe over the weekend and it turned out great! The crust was buttery, soft and crumbly. It melts in my mouth! I only put it in the fridge to rest for 1 hr instead of 4 because i was impatient. Thank for sharing!

  18. DAWN August 13, 2012 at 8:06 pm

    Hi S, I apologize for my lack of knowledge but what is “disk” and what is a tart ring?

    Thank you! Dawn

  19. S August 13, 2012 at 9:32 pm

    Dear Dawn, it’s no problem at all. I’m sorry, it looks like my Spellcheck went berserk when I typed out this recipe. First, disc=disk. What I mean is that you roughly shape each piece of dough into a flat circle that is quite thick, around an inch thick. You don’t want to use a rolling pin. Just shape it by hand. You want to chill it in that shape so that it’s easier to roll out after it has rested.

    A tart ring is basically just a stainless steel baking ring with no base. It is usually about 3/4 inch high. When you use a tart ring, you get straight edged tarts with sides that are perpendicular to the base. If you’re trying to bake tarts for the first time, a fluted tart ring with a removable base may be easier to start with.

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