the great unshrinkable sweet tart shell

I have lamented tart crusts for years, as it seemed that no matter what I did–chill the crusts, weight the crusts, arranged small prayer circles outside the oven–they shrunk on me. No matter how many fingers I crossed, no matter how many Guaranteed No-Fail tricks I auditioned, no matter how many pounds of butter I had sacrificed in my quest, the crust I’d remove from the oven would hold as little as half of the volume of the one I put in, leading to thin tarts and pools of extra filling and oh so very many gray hairs.

tart shell

Which is why today it is taking all of my restraint not to run up that last flight of stairs and shout from my rooftop: I have conquered my tart shells at last, and they shrink no more! … Although I suspect in my neck of this island, that would barely cause an eyebrow to arch.

But it is true, so deliciously true. And before I go any further–you know, into the most awesome stuff I filled this tart crust with–I need to mark this momentous occasion its own post. Go bookmark this one, my friends, because if you’ve ever sobbed at the doorway of your oven, wondering where oh where your tart walls went, you’ve waited too long for this.

happy tart shell

One year ago: Nutmeg Maple Cream Pie
Two years ago: Orangettes

The Great Unshrinkable Sweet Tart Shell
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan

My favorite part about this shell recipe and technique is that it doesn’t require pie weights. How cool is that?!

Makes enough for one 9-inch tart crust

1 1/2 cups (195 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (60 grams) confectioner’s sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
9 tablespoons (4 1/2 ounces or 130 grams) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg*

1. Pulse the flour, sugar and salt together in the bowl of a food processor. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in. (You’re looking for some pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and some the size of peas.) Stir the yolk, just to break it up, and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. When the egg is in, process in long pulses–about 10 seconds each–until the dough, which will look granular soon after the egg is added, forms clumps and curds. Just before you reach this stage, the sound of the machine working the dough will change–heads up. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and, very lightly and sparingly, knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing. Chill the dough, wrapped in plastic, for about 2 hours before rolling.

2. To roll the dough: Butter a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Roll out chilled dough on floured sheet of parchment paper to 12-inch round, lifting and turning dough occasionally to free from paper. (Alternately, you can roll this out between two pieces of plastic, though flour the dough a bit anyway.) Using paper as aid, turn dough into 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom; peel off paper. Seal any cracks in dough. Trim overhang to 1/2 inch. Fold overhang in, making double-thick sides. Pierce crust all over with fork.

Alternately, you can press the dough in as soon as it is processed: Press it evenly across the bottom and up the sides of the tart shell. You want to press hard enough that the pieces cling to one another, but not so hard that it loses its crumbly texture.

3. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.

4. To fully or partially bake the crust: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil (or use nonstick foil) and fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust. And here is the very best part: Since you froze the crust, you can bake it without weights. Put the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 20 to 25 minutes.

5. Carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon. Bake the crust about 10 minutes longer to fully bake it, or until it is firm and golden brown, brown being the important word: a pale crust doesn’t have a lot of flavor. (To partially bake it, only an additional 5 minutes is needed.) Transfer the pan to a rack and cool the crust to room temperature, and proceed with the rest of your recipe.

Do ahead: The dough can be wrapped and kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 2 months. While the fully baked crust can be packed airtight and frozen for up to 2 months, the flavor will be fresher bake it directly from the freezer, already rolled out.

* Updated 2/4/09: In response to concerns (including mine!) about this crust crumbling easily when rolled out, I found that using the whole egg instead of just the egg yolk holds it together better, making it easy to roll out in one piece.

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306 comments on the great unshrinkable sweet tart shell

  1. I’ve gotta get a food processor. And I’m so glad it doesn’t call for pie weights – I don’t have any and don’t want to buy any (as cute as they’d look in a mason jar on the kitchen cabinet.)

    Does it taste as good as other crusts you’ve made – or do you love it most because it doesn’t shrink? Sometimes my quest for visual perfection leads me to choose a recipe that doesn’t taste quite as good. It’d be GREAT to have a recipe that satisfies ALL of my perfectionist tendencies!

    1. Dee

      You know, you can use dried beans as pie weights. . .I reuse them all the time, keeping them in a jar (once they’re cooled) clearly marked “Pie weights”

  2. Taryn

    I find so many amazing tart recipes that I bookmark, but avoid because I’ve never had luck with the crust. You may just give me hope, Deb.

  3. daphna

    Thanks!! I’ve been having that same trouble w/ pie crust, so I guess a similar technique would work for that? Just in time for my Thanksgiving pies, yay!

  4. Anna

    Isn’t the point of using pie weights (or beans or rice or whatever) instead of docking to keep the filling from running into the holes and making the crust soggy?

    I can see how this would be fantastic for a tart filled with something like pastry cream and fresh fruit. But what if you have a recipe for, say, lemon tart, that needs a half-baked crust because it goes back into the oven? What then, oh great master of tart crusts?

  5. Dancer who eats

    Bookmark, indeed. I have had so many tart shells shrink on me. I heard you have to have a NON non-stick tart pan. Which do you use?

  6. Beautiful documentation of a life-changing recipe! I’ve made this crust without a food processor (using a pastry knife instead to cut in the butter, and keeping an eye out for that clumping action after mixing in the egg), and it turned out just fine…no shrinkage at all.

  7. Well played Deb, stretching a single recipe over two days, well played indeed…

    The crust looks wonderful, my family and I thank you a hundred times over!!
    (Well I certainly do- my mom has recently been going on about how I make to many deserts- crazy talk!)

  8. Susan

    This is like shortbread dough, which has no water and it doesn’t change shape or shrink. The docking should keep it from puffing. It’s the perfect tart crust recipe! Thanks, Deb. Filling next?

  9. Marie

    Wonderful! Wounderbar! Everyone praises your wonderful pictures, wonderful recipes. I also love, love, love your wonderful, wonderful writing, the clear and easy navigation and organization of your site. Marvelous.

    Thanks for nailing the crust recipe. I learned (from Wayne Harley Brachman) to use “eggy ice water” then smear the dough after it comes together. It’s a French technique and I forget the proper name? I’m guessing that using an egg yolk for the liquid makes for a cookie type dough. And cookies don’t shrink, they spread (most of the time). Don’t they?

    Another suggestion — put the cookie sheet you plan to use under the pie in the oven to pre-heat. Helps with browning the bottom.

    Happy Thanksgiving All!

  10. Munchkin

    I had success with this Dorie Greenspan recipe as well! I pressed the dough into the pan and used a measuring cup (mine are steel and flat bottomed) to flatten it and press it evenly into the sides. Used the tart shell for her French Pear Tart recipe. Oh bliss! I think I shall make it this week again!

  11. I have never made a tart crust before. So I intend to make this now and be perfectly successful because you explained it perfectly Deb. Then I can wonder around with my perfect tart crust and be all, “What’s the big deal? Tart crusts are easy. And I didn’t use a dumbbell!”

    Thanks for the recipe. Can’t wait to see the filled final product.


  12. Debra,
    I truly love you today.
    I am ready to bake my apple pecan tarts to freeze and I dread the pie weights (I use rocks from the garden!!!!!), and that DAMN SHRINKAGE!!! (sounds like George Castanza when he goes in the cold pool!).
    Thank you for posting Dorie’s pie shell recipe. I am so glad I woke up to this recipe this a.m.
    I will keep you posted!
    Stacey Snacks

  13. lullybaby

    I’d just like to comment…I’m one of those annoying types who’s never suffered with shrinkage (no weights ever used). I think it’s something to do with freezing before baking – I’ve always used this method for both sweet and savory cases. You do need to prick well though!

  14. Hi every one,
    I know this will sound as a stupid question, but what is what you call “skrinkage”? I learned english in school and in Bon Appetit magazine, and they don’t talk about shrinking pie (of course, in Bon Appetit, the pies are always perfect…….). Anyway, I was just wondering what this apparently common problem is.
    Is it when the crust gets bumpy on the edge of the pie, so that there is less filling than in the middle??
    Thanks a lot!!!

  15. Amy

    Yay! When I saw the post title I gave you a little mental applause for finally solving that which has been tormenting you for so long. Now I need to get myself a tart pan and start making tarts!

  16. Congrats. Am clearly bookmarking this one for my first tart. We had glorious tarts in the south of France that I would LOVE to (attempt to) duplicate. Once I get a food processor. By the way, how big a food processor do you need for this sort of thing?

  17. Sharon

    I used this recipe too, but I didn’t trust it all the way, and used the weights anyway. It was so good, next time I’ll skip the weights. I used the Lemon cream from Dorie’s book, and omg delishiousness!

  18. CONGRATULATIONS!!!! I know just how you feel. I wanted to kiss the world when I finally got biscuits right. I see you’re using a regular tart pan and not a nonstick one, which is suppose to help get rid of shrinkage too. May your kitchen be blessed with many more sweet tarts!

  19. I’ve used Dorie’s sweet tart dough recipe in the past and have had great success with it as well as far as the shrinkage goes. I didn’t think it was sweet enough so I add an extra 1/4 cup of confectioner’s sugar to the dough and it makes all the difference in the world. It’s absolutely fabulous with Dorie’s pastry cream (! Can’t wait to see how you filled this one!!

  20. Mona

    You should send this to Alton Brown. Last night on his show he made a horrible looking Lemon Meringue Pie and his crust shrunk down a LOT! Tee hee! So funny that I see your post here this morning about perfect non-shrinky crust……..

  21. deb

    Yes! You can certainly use this with the Cranberry Caramel Almond Tart (and I will, because I was soo frustrated when that crust shrunk horribly last year) or the Nutmeg Cream Pie or the Pear Almond Tart. Or anything else you can think of.

    As for why I think this dough might work better than others, I think it is a variety of factors: One, it has no water in it, which is of course pure shrinkage. Two, the freezing really helps. Three, the foil seems to really hold up the sides well–as if you had another pan pressed inside, keeping the shape intact. In theory, I’d be curious to try the freeze/foil technique with other tart doughs to see if that alone is it, but the idea of sacrificing any more doughs to the tart gods seems so wrong right now!

  22. Laura

    I’ve been afraid of making the Cranberry Caramel Almond tart because of the dough. But fear no more! I’m so making this for Thanksgiving!

  23. Ana

    another thing to keep in mind is to always, always be careful to not stretch the dough when you place it in your tart (or pie) pan. it’s easy to do without even thinking about it, but as long as your circle is wide enough, you should be able to ease it into the pan and up the sides without pulling on it- that’s part of what shrinks back when it bakes.

    i’ve been much, much happier with my crusts since i realized this.

  24. Amy

    I was given my first tart pan for my birthday a couple of weeks ago and have been obsessing over tarts ever since. I’m happy to say I just used this recipe as the crust for a simple apple tart and it turned out beautifully! Tastes delicious, too.

  25. Alemar

    I’m always afraid/avoid baking pies or tarts. What is the difference between a pie crust and a tart crust or are they the same thing? By the way, your tart crust looks perfect!

  26. Laura

    For the cranberry caramel almond tart it calls for a partially baked pie crust. Would you just bake this recipe with the foil and not add the last 10 min until you added the filling?

  27. deb

    Alemar — They are similar. Some people use them interchangeably but I prefer not to. Pie crusts are designed for flakiness. They have water in them, and can be a bit softer–they shrink more. Sweet tart shells like this one are more like cookies; they get harder and although you try to keep some butter visible (which helps create flaky layers), the flakiness, if any, is barely noticeable.

    Laura — Yes, you could just skip the last 10 minutes. However, I actually did not for the recipe I’ll have up next. One thing that struck me when I was in Paris was how much longer they seem to cook everything. Most tart doughs had a really nice mid-brown color, not just lightly bronzed. So, I don’t think that there is any harm in getting a bit more color on it. The more color, the more flavor.

  28. Amanda :}

    whoa man, i was just about to make a test-run-for-thanksgiving apple almond tart when i happened to do my usual food blog check-up (starting with you of course!) and bada-bing, a tart shell recipe!

    get out of my head deb, i’m warning you, it’s not somewhere you want to be! bring mace (and not the kind for pound cake either!)

  29. Bun

    Clotilde also has an unshrinkable tart shell in “Chocolate and Zucchini”–and you don’t have to roll it out! (just squish into place). I literally had a “Hallelujah!!” moment the first time I tried it. :)

  30. I just found your blog today, and oh my. I’m surprised that my keyboard hasn’t shorted out from the copious amounts of drool I have yet to wipe from my chin. I can’t wait to try so much of what you’ve posted!

  31. I would like to second Bun’s recommendation of Clotilde’s pate brisee – worked perfectly for me the first time with a nonstick 10″ tart pan.
    As someone who has shaken my fist in frustration over pie and tart doughs (and eventually come out the other side as Deb has – bravo to DEB!) in my experience the chilling of the dough makes a bigger difference that any of the other factors.
    It relaxes the dough and allows the flour to absorb more of the moisture in the dough. I am excited to try this recipe!

  32. Lisa

    Can’t wait to see what you’re filling the tart with! I stumbled across your cranberry caramel almond tart recipe a week or so ago and made a mental note to search for a tart crust recipe before I made it since you didn’t like the one you used in that recipe. Now I don’t have to search. Love your website! ( :

  33. The freezing of dough is not related to not using pie weights. Careful of saying this because blindbaking pie shells should always employ pie weights.

    But I’m glad you discovered some no shrink techniques! My experience is Rest, rest rest!

    We had a problem at the shop the other day with Scotch Puff (= extremely high in butter) when someone sheeted it too quickly. In the end it’s all about how rushed the dough feels to “Do What I Want, Dammit.”

  34. Lauren in Lebanon

    This didn’t work for me. The dough didn’t stick together. I weighed the ingredients and double check the math. I even added an extra half of a yolk just to see if that would help, but I still just had crumbs. I had to add a little water in the end to make it come together, and alas, they did shrink a little.

  35. albondigas

    I had the same problem as Lauren–i was extra–careful with my measurements and followed the recipe to the letter, but the dough just wouldn’t stick together. Any ideas on what i’m doing wrong?

  36. deb

    So sorry to hear! Though the recipe has worked for me as you see above a few times now, I will be making a few more batches in the coming days and will see if adding a tablespoon of cream (something I have used in other recipes) brings it together without shrinking it. I’ll report back!

    In addition: The press-in method should still work great, even if yours is on the crumbly side, and save a lot of trouble anyhow.

  37. ClippyZ

    I’m looking forward to trying this with the cranberry-almond-caramel tart! But one question: I can’t seem to find a nine inch tart pan for the life of me, just an 11 inch. Will this go horribly awry if I try to use the same recipe?

  38. deb

    You’ll definitely need to scale the recipe, at least to 150% of the original recipe to fill out a 11-inch tart (base areas of about 64″ versus 95″)

  39. ClippyZ

    Thanks! By the way, I’m a long-time fan of your blog (but first time poster) and appreciate the inspiration, great recipes, and always-useful tips.

  40. jo

    I baked a mango tart over the weekend using your tart dough recipe. All I can say is it’s the best tart shell I’ve ever had. Thank you so much for posting this!

  41. altho i don’t make a habit of it, i must comment on this post!
    i had a dinner party on saturday night and decided to use this recipe for the shell of my blueberry and lime cloud tartlets (email me for a yummy delicious recipe if you please!!) and it was spectacularly good. so much so that one of the male guests, not usually prone to such flamboyant compliments, said “you wouldn’t find (a dessert) like this in any restaurant” – wow!
    on quantity issues, your exact ingredients filled 6 4.5″ tartlet tins for me. i sliced it thinly with a sharp knife, set the slices into the tins and smosched them together! :O) it is indeed a completely unshrinkable tart shell!!
    thank you deb, so much. x

  42. Katie

    Wow, this is amazingly forgiving, and amazingly good (if the scraps I’ve tasted so far are any indicator)! I don’t have a food processor, so I tried the blender to no avail. Then I tried a combination of mixer and pastry cutter, and then a combination of pastry cutter and hands. It was still hopelessly crumbly (though maybe I could have pressed it rather than rolled it), so I added about a quarter of another egg yolk. I ended up with a smooth, hard ball without any visible butter. I nervously put it in the ‘fridge, thinking it didn’t seem right at all. When I took it out to roll it, it was as hard as a rock and I had to let it warm up and then practically smash it with my rolling pin. I got it into the pan and stuck it into the freezer, regretting that I didn’t have more than about 45 minutes with which to freeze it. Needless to say, I figured I’d probably whipped up a disaster, so when I took it out of the oven I couldn’t believe my good luck! No shrinking whatsoever, and the bits that flaked off onto the foil smelled so good that I popped the foil back in the oven for a minute so that I could scrape them off and eat them with a spoon. They were stunningly tender, and better than shortbread! My only fear is that it is so tender that I won’t be able to lift it out of the pan. I’ll post an update if I fail, but if I don’t, please assume success!

  43. hankela

    Didn’t work for me at all! Broke into pieces when I tried to roll it out. I’ve never had this problem before with any tart or piecrust. Seemed like there was not enuf liquid. Question: I recently heard Dorie Greenspan talk about measuring cups on “the splendid table”. She was talking about 2 different methods of measuring flour. The first is to scoop directly from a bowl, the other is to spoon into the measuring cup. I do the second – how do you do it? I think this could affect the recipe.

  44. I always thought it was my lack of pie skills that produced shrunken crusts (even on double-crusted pies), but maybe it isn’t just me! As you said, I had the worst of luck with tart shells. I’ll be bookmarking this recipe.

  45. Hi Deb,

    I have baked this one several times now and get shrinkage every time. I have been using the “press” method as it seems like my dough isn’t sticky enough to hold together when rolled out. How cohesive is your dough?

    Either way, I made it with the cranberry, caramel, almond filling a few times now and I have people BEGGING me to make it again. Sheesh. You are a genius, woman, for having such a lovely site. Thanks (:

  46. Mine ended up working just fine and tasting great! I pressed it in since it was still so flour-y, froze it, said a prayer, and baked it, and it worked! I didn’t have any shrinking at all!

  47. Fran

    Not only doesn’t this shrink, it also can be dropped after baking (use the cookie sheet, fool), scraped up, pieced and pressed back into the tart pan, and baked for a few more “please hold together” minutes. Filled with the Cranberry Caramel Almond delight, it will be gobbled up with nothing but swoons and smiles.

    The edges of the tart looked like some hip deconstructed dessert, but I do not recommend this method if there’s a three year old within swearing distance.

    Deb RULES!

  48. Mrs TeaPie

    I don’t have a food processor either. To cut fats into my flour i have been using the whisk attachment on my Kitchen Aid. It cuts down how many bowls i need to use when mixing up a recipe and my machine does the work for me a winning situation!

  49. I made this after you updated the recipe with a whole egg, and it worked beautifully. The dough wasn’t crumbly at all – very easy to work with. It didn’t shrink, and it cooked to a perfect texture: not too crumbly, not too hard. It’s now my go-to crust recipe.

    BTW, I sprinkled the dough trimmings with turbinado sugar and baked them like cookies. Yum.

  50. DebitNM

    I live in Colorado at 6200 feet – do you know of any needed adjustments for baking tart shell at altitude? As elevation rises, normal piecrusts need more moisture here. Dry mountain air makes flour drier and evaporation rates are faster, often leaving crust without sufficient moisture to hold the starch togehter. Typically, a bit of extra liquid is need for piecrusts. Since this recipe has no obvious liquids, I am a bit stumped.

    I have some beautiful Meyer Lemon that I just brought back here from San Francisco and would love to make the Lemon Tart.

    Thanks for any insights!

  51. DebitNM

    FYI- The crust turned out great! I did the partially baked one. The only adjustment was that I used a [small] jumbo egg as it was all I had on hand.

    I did keep it in fridge more than 2 hours and in the freezer about an hour after rolling out. I wasn’t sure if the crust should cool before filling and doing the final bake with filling. I did let it cool a bit and then filled and baked. No shrinkage, great taste.

    So, altitude is not a problem in case you need to know.

  52. Adina

    This is a cautionary note for other people. I made this yesterday using the “press” method, and I think next time I’ll roll it out. It was delicious, but…

    I stopped processing when the sound of the machine changed, and dumped everything into my tart pan, only to find that I really did need to mix in the dryer parts of the dough before pressing it into the pan. After that, the dough was so sticky that it was hard to press into the pan, and once I baked it (without the foil, because I’m an idiot), it puffed up so much that I couldn’t fit all of the lemon curd from the Whole Lemon Tart recipe in.

    Next time, I’ll leave myself enough time to be able to put the dough disc together, refrigerate it for a couple of hours, and then roll it out. Then I’m sure it will be perfect.

  53. Emily

    would it work if i used a springform pan? i have no tart pans, and it’s the only one i could find with a removable bottom.

  54. sarah

    Haha, I discovered a super-awesome trick! Well, I don’t know if you could call it a trick, but if you line a normal 9-inch cake pan with foil, making sure to leave some hanging out, you can just bake the tart on that, and lift the whole thing out once it’s baked. It comes out super easy, with no dishes needed to be washed, and no “fancy” tart pans need to be bought. Whoo-hoo! by the way, this crust was super easy, yummy, and totally unshrinkable.

  55. I made this yesterday, and only have a cuisinart mini prep food processor. It was VERY full, but with a little extra wiggling of ingredients with a knife I made it work. I also only had an 11.5 inch tart pan, and when the dough was well chilled it was a dream to roll and fit the larger pan with folded edges and literally no left over dough. It baked up perfectly. I was a little concerned about how tender it would be because I think it actually got over processed in my food processor, but its quite tender. Thanks for another great go to recipe.

  56. Erin

    Finally got around to testing this tart dough and…oh. my. goodness.

    SO easy and SO delicious! I made a strawberry tart (with homemade pastry cream) for a BBQ yesterday, and all anyone could comment on was the crust! When was the last time you heard that!?

    In all honesty, it shrunk a TEENY bit–but really just pulled away from the sides of the pan. The sides of the tart itself did not shrink down one iota.

    Two enthusiastic thumbs up for another Smitten Kitchen winner! You can tell how much I love (and always have loved) this site by the fact that my friends say, “Is this another Smitten Kitchen recipe?” :) I’ve even gotten a handful of them hooked on Deb’s awesomeness, too.

  57. Megan Lock

    I’m wanting to try this tart shell, but I have a ceramic tart dish. Will it work the same and as well as your metal one?

  58. Ailina

    While i didn’t follow your directions on how to make the dough, i did follow them about how to bake it, and it turned out just perfectly! After shrinking tart shells before, this is a gem to find. Thank you so much for this recipe!

  59. KMont

    Just made my 2nd tart shell today. The first from a different recipe was a complete bomb. I think the BIG thing is your neat trick – freezing the shell in the tart pan prior to baking. Worked beautifully! Will suggest this in my review of the dessert I’m making, credits to Smitten Kitchen, of course. Thanks for this recipe, it saved my sanity after working for a long time on a tart shell.

  60. JS

    Maybe I’m missing something, but wouldn’t piercing the shel with a forkl cause the crust to leak if you’re using a liquid filling (say, for the maple cream tart or the raspberry brown butter tart)? Or does it all work out in the end?

  61. It works! I am making mini-tarts, mini-pies and mini-cheesecakes for Thanksgiving dinner and doing as much of it in advance as possible. My first batch of mini-tart shells came out perfect and are sturdy enough that I can store them, fully baked, in the freezer for the next 2 weeks. I’m not sure I’ll ever WANT to eat a pie crust again when this tastes so much better! Thanks for the recipe and tips. Now I need to figure out which of your fillings to use. Love it!

  62. Oh my, I am so psyched to find your blog on this subject. There just have been too many heartaches in the past. So what is really the reason that this tart recipe doesn’t shrink? I am hoping to adapt this for my linzertorte recipe that calls for ground hazelnut. Any suggestions?

    1. deb

      Hi Maya — My *guess* is that it is a combination of not having have water in the dough (like a lot of pie and pastry doughs do, which would simply evaporate when cooked) and that there’s something in that freezing/foil process. I’ve used the freezing/foil process since when a par-baked pie dough (I use a butter, flour and water recipe) and it does shrink a lot less than it used to with weights, but still more than this dough, which doesn’t have water.

  63. I know I’m late to the party here, but I’ve recently found an extremely easy and delicious tart dough from David Lebovitz. Instead of cutting in fat he learned from a friend in Paris to melt the butter in the oven and then add in the flour. It’s incredibly easy and incredibly yummy!

  64. Jess

    Deb, I’m comparing your adaptation side by side with Dorie’s recipe. When you were working on this recipe, did you try her method of creaming the butter first, then adding the dry ingredients and the egg? If so, what result? I ask because I don’t have a food processor and am going to do this in my stand mixer instead, and I’ve always had a hard time getting butter to achieve the desired oatmeal flakes/peas consistency in my stand mixer. Thanks!

    1. deb

      Hi Jess — I did not because I do have a FP, of course, and it really does make it easiest. However, without a FP, I’d probably skip over the KA instructions for the reasons you suggested (I’ve pulled it off before but it is more difficult) and go straight to cutting butter into flour with a pastry blender. I love love love using a pastry blender above all else.

  65. Kailee

    My husband and I received some tart pans for our wedding back in August. Frankly, I’ve been too intimidated to make a tart crust, but the pans have been calling out to me recently. This crust was so easy! Your instructions are very helpful. It turned out beautifully!

    I filled mine with your whole lemon tart recipe. In a word, perfection. I’m a sucker for lemon desserts anyway, but it was sublime. You can be sure I will be taking on another of your tart recipes in the near future!

  66. kris

    Just combined two of your recipes into one. Used this tart shell with your pastry cream recipe from your strawberry tart and put champagne mangoes on top!! And lo and behold, the crust didn’t shrink! Looking at the pictures of your lemon/stawberry tart post we have come along shrink-free way! You are a genius Deb and the perfectionist in me thanks you!!

  67. Liz

    tried this recipe this past weekend! I have never made a tart… much less a tart shell..! so I was SUPER excited to try this one and it was awesome! the crust turned out wonderful! didn’t shrink! and was easy enough for a first time tartlet! I am new to your site, but I can’t get enough of i!! thanks for all your hard work, beautiful pictures and delicious recipes!

  68. when you say press it in after processing you mean when you take it out of the food processor…right? Thanks…ive been having baking trouble lately like ive never had before and if thats what you mean that would be perfect!

  69. Courtney F

    I’m going to try out this recipe for smaller tartlet pans. Do you have an idea about how the baking time would change?

  70. jess

    This recipe did not work for me. Very disappointed to see the crust withered and shrunken just like every other recipe.

  71. Simone

    Pastry worked really well – added whole egg rather than just yoke. I also added about 75ml of sour cream for extra shortness.

    Did shrink a little but not unbearably so :)

    Thanks a heap Deb

  72. Deb

    I have wanted to make a fruit tart for years, but have always been a bit intimidated. Thanks to this recipe and others, I’m finally ready to conquer it! I do have one question though – can I really put the tart pan directly from the freezer into a hot oven? That won’t warp the pan somehow? Or am I missing a step?
    Thanks so much for this and other amazing recipes Deb – thanks to you, my friends finally think I know how to bake :)

  73. Karen

    It is indeed “great” and did not shrink a bit. Made the best key lime tart ever, the perfect foil to the sour filling. My entire office is swooning. I made a few changes after my first attempt: I added the whole egg, and I put the dough together on a board before pressing into the tart pans. First time I tried pressing the crumbs and the top edge was too crumbly. I couldn’t tell from the recipe which was intended. The food processor made this the easiest ever. I used frozen butter. I will use this recipe forever!


    i dont see how this recipe could possibly work (i would thik it would be WAY too wet) i found it after i got aggravated witha recipe i found here after converting this recipe to imperial system from metric
    i ended up with 2cups all purpose flour,1/2cup confectionary sugar,aprox.7 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter,1 egg yolk ,and 1/8tsp after kneading vigorously with my bare hands for 35 min. all i ended up with was something that resembled butter moistened flour ,so before i threw it out i found this recipe and started out trying to salvage what i had by first adding the rest of the egg wich i save when i seperated it and the rest of the stick of butter plus a tbsp so 1stick plus 1 tbsp ,i also added a cap full of tahitian vanilla from william sonoma after this the dough came together fine but feels a bit greasy it is in the fridge chillin for a half hour now i havent baked it yet ,so in conclusion the recipe i ended up with was 2 cups ap flour,1/2 cup confectionary sugar sifted after it was measured,1 WHOLE egg,1 stick butter+1tbsp a eigth tsp salt and like a quater tsp vanilla, and like i said it feels kinda greasy maybe you should start with 7 or 8 tbsp butter and add a tbsp at a time if your not happy with consistency,basically the recipe here with another half cup ap flour is what i did ,will let you know how it turns out after i bake it

  75. Help! I need a vegan version!! My vegan pie crust is too savory for the chocolate tart I want to make for the vegan guests at my wedding. I know I can use earth balance in place of butter, but am wondering what to replace the egg with. Do you have any experience veganizing your recipes?

  76. sb

    many short crust pastry recipes are without egg. Bill Granger has one that works well (google should find it).
    Just replace the egg with ~3 tbsp water (do 1 by 1, you may not need three).
    I just made this dough here (though not yet baked) and it feels incredibly wet with the whole egg, much wetter than previous tarte doughs. Who knows, but in any case, the water recipes I have had work like a charm.

  77. Ken

    Thank you for your recipe, which I am trying at this moment… Leading to a request for advice.

    My recipe calls for “an unbaked, frozen tart shell brought up to room temperature.”

    It gets filled with a marzipan lining and an apple-cranberry mixture and baked for 50-60 minutes.

    I have my tart pan lined with your recipe for the shell and sitting in the freezer. You advocate baking directly from frozen. My recipe wants it at room temp. Which do you think has a better chance of working in this case? In an ideal world, I would do a test ahead of time, but this is going to the party tomorrow, and I’m hoping for a successful outcome on the first attempt!

    I know you can’t make a guarantee, but I’m willing to take your guess over mine.

  78. kellypw

    Just made this. The dough is gorgeous. It went together so easily and i didn’t have any issues rolling it out. I have a bounty of meyer lemons from my garden so i added some zest to the dough which gave it a nice bright note. Thanks for the detailed instructions, it went together perfectly.

  79. roxlet

    This is a very nice, easy to handle dough, but I wonder what the problem is in using beans when blind baking it. I feel a piece os aluminum foil and some beans (mine stay in a plastic bag with my baking things) is a lot easier than buttering silver foil. That’s a solution in search of a problem…

  80. This turned out absolutely phenomenal for me, I made the Whole Lemon Tart and used this as the shell. I rolled out the dough between two pieces of plastic wrap and it worked great. Three notes: 1- my food processor is really small so I ended up having to do it in two batches – turned out perfectly fine. 2- the recipe doesn’t specify if/how to cover the dough when it goes in the freezer – I lightly draped it with plastic wrap and it turned out fine. 3- I got a little burning in a few vertical spots so next time I will fold the aluminum foil completely over the top of the fluted part and down the other side (I just covered the tart bottom and sides but not the like top part of the sides, if that makes sense). I’m making the Whole Lemon Tart because my husband’s boss has been giving us meyer lemons from her tree all winter (I am transplanted to a tiny Greek island, amazing citrus (and olive oil!) is one of the perks of living here!). Anyway I don’t think I’ve ever commented before, maybe once… but I’ve made more than 50 recipes from your site and I am a HUGE fan and I blab on about it all the time. So… thank you!!!

  81. A.J.

    I didn’t follow your direction exactly but it worked perfectly for a bunch of little 2″ diameter banana-butter tarts. Frozen butter seems like it was a key to getting the right granularity when pulsing together butter and egg with the flour mixture. I actually didn’t roll it out, just pressed it into buttered muffin forms by hand. I added a handful of cashews to the food-processed flour mixture. :P

  82. Rosie

    Deb, I’m just about to make this shell simply because I’m sick of my tart shells always shrinking, but I only realised that you don’t include ingredient weights by the time it was too late to expect a response from you before making it! I have found volume measurements just too frustratingly variable when it comes to baking, which is after all such a science, so I always just put everything into a mixing bowl on my electronic scales, zeroing in between. I know that you now do the same thing and you always include weights in your recipes, but it would be so fantastic if you could go back to your old recipes, at least the ones that really require exact amounts like this one, and add in weights.

    As it is, I used the converter on this site to figure out the weights:

    And the results were: 187g flour, 65g icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar is the same as icing sugar right, it’s not caster sugar??), and 127g butter. I’ll let you know how it works out using those amounts. But again, PLEASE add in weights to older baking recipes!

    1. Liz B.

      THANK YOU for doing the weight conversion! I’ve made this recipe several times before using volume measurement but didn’t have my measuring cups, only my scale – it turned out great with your measurements, even though I thought I overworked it!

  83. Rosie

    Back again! And my tart shell turned pretty near perfect! When I took it out of the food processor it came together like an an absolute dream, silky and supple and un-crumbly. The only problem I had was that I had to roll it out to about 13*-14* because I realised that my tart pan, which I had always assumed was 9*, was actually 10. So I had to roll out the pastry a bit thinner than it should have been, which meant it tore when I was laying it out in the pan, and as thoroughly as I tried to patch up the tears they still let a bit of the filling (your Whole Lemon Tart) through. So first-time makers of this pastry should make sure their pan is exactly the right size, because this really is *just* enough for a 9 inch pan. And it did shrink a tiny bit, but nowhere near as much as different ones I’ve made have done. So Deb, thank you thank you for a new mainstay for my kitchen; this pastry has dissipated all of the frustration I anticipate when I think about making a tart (which normally results in me finding something else to make). A million grateful kisses!

  84. Richard

    This was terrific; a perfect crust. I made a savory version with no sugar, a pinch of cayenne pepper, 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, and a little pepper.

    The egg was not enough to bring it together – I added 2 Tablespoons of vodka for the final pulse, then formed a ball & refrigerated. (Vodka is only 50% water, so reduces gluten development).

    Thanks for this procedure.

  85. Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe! But I have a few questions

    For this pate surcess recipe, what makes it not shrink anymore? Or pate surcess actually doesn’t shink when we bake it?

    Moreover, I’m just sort of wondering when you mentioned that your tart crust always shrinked before, did you use a pate brisee recipe or pate surcess? Since I have a hard time to bake a perfect tart shell with pate brisee. :(

    Thank you!!

    1. deb

      Matilda — The key thing I’ve found in avoiding shrinking is to not use any water. Eggs barely shrink as they’re cooked, water more or less evaporates, shrinking the structure.

  86. L Scott

    Shame on you! Why in the world is it necessary to include 30 pages of comments one is forced to print in order to get to the recipe????? Giant pain in the neck not to mention the collosal waste of paper. You might look to make a change for the benefit of others.

  87. Chelsea

    I have to add another thank you to this recipe. My mother-in-law’s blueberry pie recipe (so delicious) calls for a store-bought Keebler Shortbread crust. I haven’t seen one of those in years, and the same was true when I checked my Safeway. To smittenkitchen I ran, and sure enough, you had what sounded like a foolproof crust. It was. Well, I confess to pre-baking it a touch too long, but no one seemed to notice, including me, once we tasted the pie. Also, my food processor is too small (4 c) for doughs, so I mixed this one with a pastry cutter plus fingers, and it worked quite well. Thanks again!

  88. Carol

    Just came across this after my latest shrinkage incident and can’t wait to try it next time! How would you modify this for a savory tart? Thanks!

  89. Carol

    Thanks, that sounds like a winner for next time – and I LOVE your site, btw (can’t believe I didn’t share that before)!!

  90. Marisol

    Did you once have a recipe posted for a lemon custard tart with blueberries baked into the tart? I know I made it last summer and I’m 98% sure I used your tart crust, but maddeningly, I can’t remember where the recipe came from. It came out perfectly and I feel like that could be due to your excellent recipe details. Thanks!

  91. I love your blog…and of course it does seem to post first on most of my google searches, which doesn’t hurt. But I consult your pages so often I felt the need to let you know! Thanks for sharing.

  92. Jessica

    I just made the cranberry pear frangipane tart using this shell and I hate to say it but…the shell shrank. Just a little though. :)

    I did find that fully baking the shell, cooling it, and then baking the tart, the shell came out a little tough. I might just par-bake it next time.

  93. Janie

    Could you use this dough to make Canadian butter tarts? They are made in muffin pans and I’m wondering how to ensure there is no shrinkage. Foil in each cup? Fishing pie weights out of each muffin well seems to be asking for trouble.

  94. Christine B.

    When you say you can put the processed dough directly into the tart pan, do you then rest it in the fridge or put it directly into the freezer? I like this idea – rolling out pastry dough is my least favorite part and where I find trouble. Thanks!!

  95. deb

    Yes, you’d then continue with the next step — chilling — after pressing it in. Rolling the dough between two pieces of plastic wrap makes it easier as well. Good luck!

  96. Dangit!

    I read the update about the whole egg instead of yolk when I hit the bottom of the page!

    I would recommend you put it at the top the the recipe.

    Fantastic crust though ;)

  97. Leo

    Haha, I’ve never really had a crust shrink on me but this one shrunk a fair bit. I’ll give this another try in colder conditions since I had been making chili at the same time and the kitchen was decidedly warm, so I figure that had some part in it somehow.

  98. Jamie

    This was my first try at a tart. It turned out fairly well. It DID shrink a bit, but it didn’t affect the overall appearance or taste of the tart. The dough did not form like the recipe said. It pretty much skipped the step of looking like “oatmeal” and “curds” and went straight to very smooth dough with no lumps. The finished crust was a tad hard, but tasted great. My friends loved it and my husband requested it again (which he doesn’t do often).

  99. Kate Abbe

    This came ut beautifully, however the edges were a bit burned even though I covered with foil. Any help to avoid this. Thanks! I’m trying to make a perfect tart!

  100. Rachel

    Hi Deb, I’ve made this recipe twice, once pressing it in and once rolling it out. Both times the crust still shrank about 1/4 inch both vertically and horizontally. Do elevation or climate have something to do with this? I froze the dough for about 45 min before baking–should I freeze for longer? Is my flour inferior? Or am I just unlucky in tart doughs? I know you can’t possibly answer all of life’s boggling questions but thought I’d try anyway. ;) Thanks!

  101. aducky

    I just discovered your blog after a google search regarding the weight of pastry dough and have been since devouring your advice. I also have been using Dori Greenspan’s recipe for my tart’s and while they do not shrink on me they are very thin, which leads me to the search by which I discovered your site: how much does the dough weigh for one tart? I have to roll mine so thin to get it large enough to cover a standard tart pan I feel I must be off somewhere. I read in another post that you weighed your pie dough in order to section exactly (I do too!, although it is a recent practice due the combination of a new scale and a finicky stove in my new apt.) I was curious about your yield. Thank you!

  102. Alison Borgas

    Oh yeah! Came back years later for this one, as I’ve begun making my own pastry again… and not happy about shrunken crusts. Thanks for the tip!! ;)

  103. Great tart shell! I don’t have a food processor and had to substitute fine sugar for powdered because I couldn’t find it in France, but it still turned out delicious. I’ve been consistently impressed with your doughs and crusts. Thanks!

  104. Rose

    I just found you online and so far am loving it, making your chickpea curry for dinner hoping hubby doesn’t realise it is vegetarian… Love your idea with the lining of the pastry tin I cook pastry all the time and don’t really have an issue with shrinkage but having thicker walls will make serving muck easier and hopefully a nice pretty edge too. Does the same method work with all pastry recipies or is it just this one?

    1. deb

      Rose — The lack of shrinking in this recipe comes from two things: a near-absence of water in the recipe and the technique. So, the technique will help any recipe but one with more water will still shrink more than one without it.

  105. Bonnie

    Loved hearing you on NPR today. Had to sit in the car a while to finish hearing the whole show. Then ran in the house to go to your website. Now that I’ve spent the rest of the day checking out your site and telling all my kids and friends to visit you as well… well I just HAVE to stop and go actually cook something for dinner. GREAT SITE. I’ll be back for a visit soon.

  106. When your readers find a recipe they want to print, one need not print extra pages. Simply highlight the portion you wish to print, “copy” it and then open your Word Pad and “paste.” Voila! You’ve got the recipe without all the extra information and waste of paper.

  107. ash

    This crust shrunk just a tiiiiiny bit, but it otherwise was perfect (I’m not actually that fussed about shrinkage). What I liked most was the ease with which the dough came together, and could be rolled out. Plus the buttery flavour and shortbread texture is awesome.

  108. katie

    I don’t have a food processor so cut in by hand. But with one egg it didn’t even start to come together! It looked nothing like pastry, more like a crumble topping, but ever hopeful I pressed it into the dish. Just pulled it out of oven and miracle of miracles. Its all come together and actually looks like a tart shell!! Thank you!

  109. Angella

    To the ladies that ended up with flour looking dough after mixing all of the dough ingredients together…which happened to me, just add 2 to 3 tablespoons of milk and the dough will turn out perfect!

  110. Emily

    Slightly silly question about how to deal with the final finished product. When it comes time to serve the delicous tart that has been baked in the tart shell, do you slide it off the metal bottom of the tart pan onto your serving dish or do you just leave it on the metal bottom for serving? If you slide it off, is there a simple way to do this without risking breaking or cracking the tart and/or filling? If you leave it on the bottom for serving, will this result in score marks on the pan or can these be avoided somehow? I baked a lemon tart last weekend and managed to slide it off the bottom part of the pan onto a cake server, but it was a rather heart-stopping process and resulted in a few cracks in the filling. I figure there must be an easier way but I just don’t know what it is!

    1. deb

      Emily — I usually slide it off, carefully. Sometimes I’ll leave the disc on and it does get score marks, but it’s not really a big deal (unless you’re using nonstick). I don’t mind it if my bakeware looks used. ;)

  111. Carrie#K

    NOTE: Do not let your mother talk you into substituting mini frozen phyllo shells for the tart. It won’t end well. But the whole lemon tart filling is amazing. (Luckily I had more filling than phyllo cups so the mini tart dishes were a better sub/save.)

  112. Elizabeth

    Can you use parchment paper or something else instead of aluminum foil? (trying to reduce use of this slightly sketchy stuff)


  113. Meri

    The BEST tart shell ever!!! Just made it and rolled it staright into tin, in the freezer for 45 min, foil on top and baked for 25 min on the timer and out came the PERFECT tart shell with no shrinkage. Thanks you so much have been looking for a perfect tart for a long time!!!!!

  114. Alison

    wow i dont know what i did wrong, but this so did not come out, at all
    i readily admit that i am a horrible baker, great cook, but horrible baker, but the failure of this has undone me for the day. no lemon tart for you dear.

  115. Hi Deb! I love your recipes and have wanted to become good at tarts so I thought I would substitute this tart dough for the Alice Waters recipe I typically use- But…this is the second time I have made this crust and it has shrunk along the edges! I have followed the recipe to a science. What could be the problem? Please help!

  116. Rachel

    I’m sorry to say, but I’m a chef, and I followed all the steps explicitly and the crust did indeed shrink….

  117. You are a life saver!!! After many failed attempts with other recipes, yours was and is the only one that has worked for me. Thank you. I would live it if you popped over and checked out my blog :)

  118. I just pulled this out of the oven….to find it had shrunk:( it’s my first time making a tart shell, so the error definitely may lie with me (I kept it in the fridge about 20 hours — maybe that was too much? I only froze it for 50 minutes — maybe that wasn’t enough? ) but I’m still a little sad about it. Hopefully it will still be delicious — if smaller — when I fill it with pastry cream and strawberries later tonight.

  119. Dani B.Sachs

    I love it! I think we all have this problem at one time or another(maybe more) and I cant wait to try this today. Using it for a “Spit in your mouth Pecan Pie”. Thanks for your amazing site! xoxo

  120. SueinAK

    This shrank for me, or really it was more like it slumped down the sides of the pan. Could the non-stick tart pan (the only one I could find) be the problem? The dough came together well and rolled fine, but it did seem quite soft. I’m thinking I might try just using the egg yolk, next time.

  121. Tanya

    Hi Deb– I noticed that all of your tart recipes call for 9″ tart pans; mine, sold as “default size” by Williams-Sonoma is 9.5″. Do you think that I really need to adjust recipes up by 11%, or is that a small enough difference that it shouldn’t matter? (Or should I give up and buy a 9″ pan to supplement?) Thanks!

  122. Patrice

    My tart shell just came out of the oven, and it is beautiful! Thanks for this recipe. I have been so disappointed with various recipes for avoiding the pie crust shrinkage, but this tart shrinkage treatment did the trick. Thanks!

  123. Rebecca

    Used this recipe to make mini tart shells that I used to make lemon tarts with lemon curd I had already made. It was a perfect balance of sweetness against the tart lemon curd. I was I able to get 12 shells out of this recipe. I shaped them into a standard muffin tin. I think next time I will roll them thinner which will then also lead me to getting more than 12 shells.

  124. Charlie

    Cool. To what do attribute the non-shrinking nature of the shell? Pricking the walls with the fork? I’ve never done that. Otherwise, the recipe is basically identical to the one I use (which does shrink). I even double-up the walls. And give it a long rest in the ‘fridge.

    1. deb

      Charlie — The lack of water. So many recipes have you use water to bind it together but that water bakes off and you lose volume.

  125. Charlie

    … the recipe also seems to be missing fluid in addition to the whole egg. I’m doubtful that AP flour won’t need a few tbs. of water; a very soft low protein flour MIGHT not, but even that’s doubtful.

  126. Natalie

    If the tart should be frozen before baking, but the tart pan should be heated on the baking sheet, do you remove the tart crust from the pan it’s been frozen in and then return it?

  127. Sara

    Hi, can’t wait to try this receipe tomorrow…I need to make about two hundred tart shells and want to freeze them so I can make them ahead of time. I only have about 40 tart rings so I can’t freeze them unbaked… Donu think I can bake tarts and then freeze them??? Will they hold up? And taste good without getting soggy??? Thx!

    1. deb

      Sara — They should freeze just fine. I wouldn’t expect them to get soggy, but if they seem soft, you can always re-toast them on a tray for a couple minutes at a low temperature.

  128. Heather

    I get annoyed with the food processor so I just follow the instructions using a Kitchenaid and the results are practically the same! Much easier for me in my bakeshop and home kitchen!

  129. Elyse

    I just made this (for the Whole Lemon Tart) for the second time. The first time I made it, the sides slumped and pulled away a little bit, but this time it was perfect: I think the difference was in a much longer freezing time on tonight’s attempt.

    Wish I could master transferring the rolled-out dough from the parchment paper to the tart form. My prebaked shell was hideous! Now that the filling’s in, nobody can tell there’s a horrible patch job underneath it all.

  130. Elyse

    OK, I’ve made this a couple more times and have had success incorporating a few techniques from the crust recipe for the Cooks Illustrated’s “Rich Chocolate Tart.”

    First of all, C.I. use Pam instead of buttering the tart pan – even though I was using a scrap of paper towel to butter my pan as scantily as possible, the crust would still be a little greasy on bottom. It’s better with the Pam. Not the end of the world but it’s not sexy to see a grease smear on the plate after you eat your tart.

    Second, they have you invert your tart pan over the rolled dough and press it down to stamp out a round piece for the bottom of the tart. Then you roll a big noodle shape to press around the sides of the tart pan to build up the sides.

    I doubt anyone even reads this far down in the comments but I’m getting more and more successful at making this tart and just wanted to share!

  131. laura

    Hello! If a tart case shrinks when it comes out from the oven, you didn’t line the tart case right. When lining a tart case (any) you need to fold the dough down in a L shape and press well between the bottom and the side.
    If you fold it down without folding and pressing down side to bottom you are creating a C shape. This will create air between the case and the dough leading to a sad looking tart case.

  132. Nancy

    We just moved and I can’t find my tart pan among all the boxes. Can I use a ceramic dish? If so, is there an oven temperature adjustment needed? Any other adjustments? Thanks, and Happy Thanksgiving.

  133. Heather Marie

    I always make this by hand and usually struggle to get it to come all the way together, so I often add a few splashes of cold water. Well, this morning I pretended I was a food processor and mixed the egg in with vigor! It came together perfectly, working through all the stages you describe. All I needed was a bit more elbow grease. :)

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  134. Sooj

    Hi Deb, I love, love, love your website. It is my go-to site for all recipes! One question- what do you think about the non-stick tart pans vs the tin ones? Cooks Illustrated doesn’t like the non-stick but that’s what I have and I was wondering how they compare. Thank you!!!

  135. Ana

    Best. Food processor. Directions. Ever. Everything happened in my kitchen as described in the recipe above. The sound of the food processor. The clumps forming. I am so happy. I’m not a frequent pie/tart/dough-involving dishes baker, but when I do, I always follow your directions and it never fails me. Thank you Deb.

  136. Denise

    I don’t think I’ll get an answer–I’m planning to make this today, but who knows. Here is the question. THe recipe says this:

    “Alternately, you can press the dough in as soon as it is processed: Press it evenly across the bottom and up the sides of the tart shell. You want to press hard enough that the pieces cling to one another, but not so hard that it loses its crumbly texture.” At the point where you’re supposed to put the dough into the tart pan. (It has been chilled 2 hours by this time, according to the instructions.)

    Does this mean that you can skip the two hours of chilling and just press the dough in after you make it? That would be a time-saver.


  137. deb

    Sorry this isn’t more clear. The second way to do it is to take the freshly made dough and press it in, THEN freeze it until solid (so you can line it with buttered foil and/or weights). You do skip the resting process this way. Also, you may find that your dough doesn’t need 2 hours to solidify if using the first method. (Sheesh, it sounds like I need to tune up several things about this recipe.) What matters is, no matter how you make it, it should work.

  138. Emily

    I made this dough per instructions and was disappointed to find that it not only shrunk, but lost much of its shape. Would the fact that there was high humidity have changed anything?

    1. deb

      Emily — I’m not sure how much humidity would affect it. Did you bake it as suggested, with the freezing and foil liner, etc.? This is the second part of what keeps it from shrinking.

  139. Emily

    Yes, I even froze for closer to 1.5 hours before putting on the foil liner and baking. Oh well! We had it for dessert last night filled with lemon curd and whipped cream and the flavor was awesome. I’ll try it again. Thank you for answering my question!

  140. deb

    holland — Yikes. I don’t usually use ceramic pans for things like this because they seem a little slippery, but it’s hard to say if that alone was it. I also tend to do better with tart pans with straight sides, not sloped into the center, but again, hard to say if that’s what did it. Looking at the color, I feel like it might have needed longer in the foil-baking stage to set the shape.

  141. cakestrizz

    Deb, how would you adjust the recipe to fit in a 10-inch tart pan? I have but one tart pan, and I love this recipe but the sides always bake a little “short.” Thank you!

  142. deb

    cakestrizz — You could increase the dough by 25%. However, this is actually already a kind of generous amount of dough for a 9-inch, most traditional tart shells are thinner, so I’d also say you might be able to stretch it. But it sounds like you don’t have a ton of luck with that? So, yes, you can increase all of the ingredients a tad. And leave the egg the same.

  143. Gina

    Hi Deb,
    I just made the dough and it was really wet; had to add about half a cup more flour for it to come together. It’s chilling in the fridge now and will roll it out tomorrow morning. Fingers crossed! Wondering what I did wrong, since every other single recipe of yours that I’ve tried (and I’ve tried a LOT!) has come out perfect. Perhaps it was the type of food processor that I use here in India? It’s generally used more for wet/dry grinding separately, and have never used it for a combination of the two before. I’ve made tart dough only once before (a savoury recipe of yours) by hand and I found it to be a completely different consistency from this one- it was pretty crumbly. Anyway, I hope it works out and I will keep you posted :)

    1. deb

      Gina — This is supposed to be a different texture, FWIW, a sturdy cookie-like shell for sweet desserts vs. the flaky galette dough I often use for free-form savory tarts. The latter is softer, almost croissant-like. This one needs to be able to hold things, and hold its shape. Hope that helps.

  144. LIl

    Would it be okay to make the crust the day head and then make the strawberry filling the next morning, I am concerned the strawberry filling will soak into the crust

  145. c

    Have you tried the tart shell from Cook’s Illustrated (Nov 2014?) French apple tart recipe? I thought it was good. It uses melted butter, and you press it into the pan like play dough. So easy!

  146. Alison

    Can we get weights for the dry ingredients? Or really just for the powdered sugar, since that is my least favorite thing to measure by volume.

  147. deb

    c — Yes, I’ve seen versions of them, I think they all started with a friend of David Lebovitz’s.

    Alison — Yes, full weights to come. 1/2 cup powdered sugar weighs 60 grams.

  148. Katie

    Just took this out of the oven – worked great! I made it by hand instead of in my food processor just to avoid more dishes and it was easy. Can’t wait to fill it with pastry cream and fresh berries :)

  149. Olivia

    Hi, I’m posting this question here because I’ve searched the internet and can’t find an answer. I have had this pastry in my freezer for about 6 months and decided to bake it today. After baking it, I have noticed black spots over it, only on the outside of the shell not the inside. Do you know what has caused this? Do you think it is safe to eat? Thank you.

  150. Jean Reynolds

    Hmmmm…good thing i went back through some comments and took another look at the picture…please add instruction to price with a fork to save some other dotty person from failing at making their perfect sweet tart. Thanks, Deb!

  151. What could have gone wrong if my crust still shrunk? It got shorter and it got smaller in diameter as well. I froze the crust within the pan for 45 minutes and everything else was exactly per the recipe.


    1. deb

      Lydia — Did it shrink a lot or more like 1-2mm? For me, there is of course a tiny bit of shrinkage (basically enough that you can easily remove it from its pan) but it really holds its shape better than any other tart crust — I just made one on Thursday so this is very fresh in my mind. Anything else out of the ordinary (did you add water or anything) that maybe could have affected it?

  152. Rouba Alamein

    Sorry little confused about the butter quantity needed ? What do you mean by 1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (9 tablespoons; 4 1/2 ounces) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces?

    Do you mean 1 tablespoon butter all up or 9 tablespoons ??

    Thanks kindly

  153. Marie

    I found the taste and texture to be great, but alas: my crust still shrunk when I blind baked (even with pie weights). Sigh. i feel like the shrinking issue has gotten worse since I moved to Houston. I wonder if the humidity here contributes to extra water evaporating from the crust?

    1. deb

      Forever? It’s definitely one of those things that lasts as long as things last in your freezer, i.e. it could be 6 months, so long as your freezer doesn’t impart a freezer taste/smell.

  154. Marissa

    This totally shrunk on me too. Not a lot, everything still turned out fine, but it was not the tart pan hugging crust shown in the picture.

  155. Niem

    Not having a food processor, I tried to make this by hand, but it just seemed so dry and crumbly after adding the egg, I had no idea how I could make it into a dough. Out of desperation I did it in two batches in my tiny little immersion blender food processor attachment, whizzed for maybe 10 seconds, and everything came together like a dream. Rolling it out was so easy, I’ve never worked with a dough so wonderful.

    Despite freezing the tart shell for almost 24 hours before baking, I put pie weights on it anyway (out of habit and fear), and for good reason – when I removed them after the initial 20 minutes, the shell started puffing up in the oven.

    I used this for your chocolate peanut butter tart, which is delicious and I’ll highly recommend. The crust did shrink a little, and it stuck to the bottom of my pan (would you suggest spraying it next time?) but everything was delicious and I received many compliments.

  156. Patricia

    Hi! This is the first recipe from you that I am having trouble with. I have baked tis crust twice to make the pear and almond tart. I use the food processor and press in. I chilled my flour and butter. I get a very dry and crumbly mixture that I can only press in, not roll. Then I freeze it. And pre-bake as per instructions. And cool it before I fill it. And yet both times the butter leaked badly at the end of the filled tart bake time. And the shell is hard as a rock the first day, and never really softens even after a few days at room temp.

    Any ideas? I do intend to beat this one :-))) And I am going to try without the FP (aka by hand), since I have never used it before for tart dough. Or any dough. But I need a tart dough in the repertoire badly!


  157. buc011

    The secret to an unshrinkable tart…. don’t use a non-stick pan! I finally found this out through much trial and error and having shrinkage no matter what I did when I used a non-stick pan. So just say no to the non-stick pan. You don’t need it. There is an ENTIRE stick of butter in your tart. It slides out of a regular tart pan like a greased pig. I wish someone had told me this about four tart pans ago. Anyone here want to buy three non-stick tart pans from me?

  158. Liz B.

    Made this today for an 11 inch tart pan, scaled up the ingredients by 1.5. I docked the dough and weighed it down (used rice on top of the foil) just in case; after the foil and weights came off, it did puff up but then settled when I pressed a spoon against it, exactly like Deb said. Used the strawberry tart recipe for pastry cream and fruit on top – great success! Light, tender pastry, beautifully cooked and not at all shrunk (just slightly pulled away from the walls of the tart pan, which I think is pretty normal), and able to stand up to pastry cream without getting soggy. Love it!

    1. Liz B.

      Forgot to add – I didn’t plan ahead very well and was only able to refrigerate the dough ball for 1 hour instead of the recommended 2, and it still was pretty easy to roll out and baked up well.

  159. Hi Deb,
    I was wondering if you had any suggestions for making this without a food processor. I usually do pie dough with a pastry cutter and a silicone spatula, but would my stand mixer with the paddle attachment be better?

    1. deb

      You could use a pastry cutter too. That would be my next choice. Mostly, you want to blend it much better than you would for pie dough — go for an even texture.

      1. Hayley8

        Hi Deb! I was hoping to use this pie crust for a strawberry rhubarb filling which is notoriously runny—will poking holes with the fork cause the filling to run through the bottom of the tart? Thanks for all the great recipes, smitten kitchen is my cooking bible!

        1. buc011

          Probably. But you can brush some egg white over it after it is partially baked to help seal it up. Just bake about two more minutes after you brush it set the seal and then fill it and finish baking.

  160. Kori

    Regarding rolling out the dough- I hate rolling with parchment paper as well as pressing with a measuring cup because I am never patient enough to wait until the dough is fully cold and EVEN WHEN it’s cold it always sticks. To the paper, to the rolling pin, to the measuring cup..

    BUT! *drumroll* This time I tried rolling the dough out with cornstarch instead of flour and it worked. like. a. dream. And it doesn’t look crumbly or coarse- it looks like tart dough looks when a pastry chef makes it.

    (Then, obviously, back in the freezer with it.)

    Happy rolling!

  161. Hmmm. This tastes really great, but it absolutely shrank minutes after putting it in the oven. I had it in the freezer for a little less than an hour prior to that. Not sure why this happened. I’m making the cranberry, caramel and almond tart, so hopefully after the final bake it’ll still turn out ok!

  162. Hi Deb! Which tart pan do you use? The ones I found in your kitchen FAQ with the link (fat daddio) dont seem to have a 9 inch? I only have a 27cm or 21cm and they’re glass so no removeable bottom. I’d like to get one that I’ll be able to use for most recipes so I’m guessing that should be a 9 inch? The fat daddio listing on amazon has a 9.5 inch is that close enough? Thank you so much if you by any chance find time to give me your opinion here. :)

  163. Casey

    I made this today. It did shrink a bit – but this is good because the crust pulled away about 1/8 inch from the fluted sides of the tart pan. Which means, of course, that the tart is not bonded to the pan. Vertical shrinkage was negligible. It’s a tantalizing looking tart, lovely.

    I combined this shell with the “Brown Butter Raspberry Tart” filling recipe from, using one 16 oz pkg of Trader Joe’s frozen “Very Cherry Berry Blend”. It all turned out beautifully. The shell and filling were practically separate culinary experiences.

    Thanks, Deb

  164. Anna B

    Hi Deb! My crust shrank and the sides fell apart. Do you think I didn’t knead the dough enough? I followed everything else to the letter! Thanks in advance.

    1. deb

      Were the sides thin? Was your foil very very tight against the sides? They shouldn’t slump if so. The only other thing I could imagine is if the flour came up short…

  165. Kelsey

    Any tips for preventing dark brown sides and a pale bottom when trying to fully bake? I rolled out the dough, so it should be even thickness. Baked from frozen with the foil and pie weights, since I have them. I had to remove the crust before the bottom got as golden as I’d like (23 min with foil + 12 uncovered), for fear of burnt edges. Should I try making the sides of the crust thicker next time to compensate? Could it be a temperature issue (my oven temp tends to creap up, so isn’t consistent throughout bake times)?

  166. Dee

    Followed the recipe exactly, but found it was very soft – perhaps if you could include weights along with measurements, it might help. I know a “cup” of flour varies a lot. Thanks.

  167. abby

    I had issues with this crust! First of all, I found it very crumbly once made up! I chilled it for 2 hours and ended up with a cold … crumbley mess! The only thing the parchment paper/rolling pin did was get all the crumbs flattened out …there was no way I was going to get the whole piece into my shell without it falling apart. So I ended up putting all the crumbs back in the shell and pressed them down into the shell. I ended up with (almost!) a rock hard crust! It tasted good, but my friends had to work for every bite they took! Sorry, but I will try something else next time!

  168. Georgia Hallinan

    No. Just no. I love Smitten recipes as few fail. This crust is a total fail. It’s a great pie but, use another crust recipe.

  169. Given the mixed reviews in the comments, and the fact that literally every pie or tart crust I’ve ever made has shrunk or slumped down the sides, I wasn’t expecting much. But this actually came out great for me! I used the press-in method and had absolutely no shrinkage at all. The bottom did not puff up either. I froze the unbaked crust in the tart pan overnight, so it was completely frozen through when I baked it. I did use pie weights just for extra insurance but I’m not sure it was necessary. I baked it for 20 minutes with the foil and weights, and then another 13 minutes to get the bottom golden. I lowered the temp to 350 for the last few minutes to prevent the sides from getting too brown. I will be using this recipe again.

  170. Kermit

    VERY disappointed. I’ve never had a tart shell sag like this one. Looks good, smells delightful, but the sides slumped to half the depth of the pan within 5 minutes in the oven. This will be one thin tart. And yes, I followed the recipe to the letter.

  171. Erin Nakayama

    This might be a preposterous question. I apologize in advance. Would it be unheard of to use this dough for a savory tart? I was thinking of making a goat cheese zucchini tart with lemon zest and lemon thyme and I have some of this dough in my freezer.

  172. I’ve been making this tart shell since Serious Eats published it in August of 2007. I’m not sure why others are having so much trouble with it, but it comes out perfect for me, always. I’m thinking that it might be because I freeze it really, really well, always at least overnight. I use the press-in method, and I often don’t even dock (prick) the pastry. It is a joy, and enables you to make a really fantastic dessert, much better than you would buy even in a good patisserie, IMHO. I started freezing this for longer periods out of convenience — it was much easier to make the pastry a day or days before I needed it, and then bake it the day of. My summer M.O. is to make a double batch of this and have a couple of frozen unbaked tart shells just waiting for the next party, barbecue, what-have-you. I do the same with crumble topping, leaving a couple of ziplocs of my fave crumble topping to whip one up as soon as great summer fruit is in season. And of course, the ice-cream machine insert has pride-of-place in the freezer, all summer long.

  173. Natalka

    I’m looking forward to trying this shell for your Cranberry, Caramel and Almond Tarts. I plan to make tartlets: yours in the picture look so gorgeous! My tartlet pans look about the same size as the ones you used: 4.75″ diameter. Do you know what I’d need to change in terms of baking temps and times to do that?

    1. Juliet

      Hi, Deb. When scaling a recipe up by 1.5, what is the best way to increase an egg yolk? Just use a whole egg or actually a half yolk?? I’m using Dorie’s pate sablee recipe in an 11 inch tart pan.

  174. Carissa Ritchey

    This crust shrunk something fierce, despite following all of the steps and trying to manhandle it back into compliance. It also baked much longer than called for. Next time I’ll try the press-in method and see if that helps things. I’m sure it’ll be delish, either way

  175. hotinAZ

    I made this crust (with Deb’s wonderful whole lemon tart filling) for Mother’s Day dessert. As promised, the crust baked up perfectly, even in my non-stick tart pan. I don’t have a food processor, so I made the crust by hand with a pastry cutter and pressed it into the tart pan (my only complaint is the bottom crust was thicker than I would have liked and the sides were a little thin, but that is totally user error as I rushed to handle the dough before the butter melted). I froze it for about 4 hours and then baked it using pie weights (just in case!). It turned out perfectly.

    1. deb

      I’m sorry — there’s been a bug with the print button; it’s not just you. The good news is that the print functionality for the site still works, just not the button itself, so you should still be able to print a recipe in one of a few ways:

      CTRL + P or ⌘ + P
      File > Print on a Mac
      From the share button (the one that looks like an up-arrow coming out of a box) at the bottom of the Safari browser on iOS

      I hope this helps — definitely let me know if it does not.

      1. Anne Doyle

        Thanks for your reply. I wasn’t successful even with the up arrow until this afternoon. I did manage to print from my PC. Want to make the Whole Lemon Tart, which brings me to a question: how high are sides to your tart pan? Love your recipes!!

      2. Anne Doyle

        When I try to print from my iPhone the preview is half blocked by a photo of Rigatoni al something which covers the text. 🤪

        1. deb

          Oh no — if you get a moment and don’t mind helping me out, want to send a screenshot of the blocked page to me, I can get it fixed/removed much faster if they know what to look for. Thank you. (No worries if you’ve got better things to do than SK site support.)

  176. Amy

    Hi, need some advice, I would like to make a pecan tart using this recipe. Should I simply fill and bake or do you think I need to still par bake it. Thanks so much

    1. deb

      It’s honestly up to you. You’ll get a more crisp shell if you parbake it but if you’re unbothered by a regular bake on it (set, but maybe not crisp), there’s no reason to parbake.

  177. Kathy


    I am looking for a mini tart crust recipe (24 mini’s) for mango curd.
    Have you made this recipe for tartlets? If not, can you suggest one! Thanks!

  178. Julie

    I’ve made this shell three times in the past week, and each week it has gone very smoothly. The third time I only chilled it for an hour (in a partially flattened disk, about 6 inches in diameter) and it was really easy to roll. Also the third time, it stuck to the pan when I tried to remove the completed tart, but I think the tart filling bubbling over was to blame for that.

  179. victoria

    wow. this is such a beautiful crust. This time round I rolled a heaping tablespoon of finely minced pistachios and cut them for mini tarts. I shortened the cooking time and they are perfect- no shrinking!. Thank you for this.

  180. Donna Lightfoot

    Your site is my absolute favorite source for all kinds of recipes!!! I bake pies, cakes and cookies often and your selection is always so tempting and delicious!
    Your original cookbook is wonderful too! I recommend you to all my friends, not just for your recipes and advice but also for your fabulous sense of humor.

    Thank you for all your efforts and ideas and please continue forever!

  181. Annette

    The direction to pierce the crust with a fork is missing from the option to directly press the dough in the pan without rolling it out. I missed this part and the tart came out very puffy

  182. Debby N

    I had enormous success with this recipe. I filled it with a homemade pastry cream, topped with strawberries from my local grower’s stand. I think this is what people eat in heaven. The shell shrank away from the edges just enough to easily remove from the pan, but no puffing at all. I actually had enough dough left over to create a 6-inch tart as well. This is definitely a keeper. Thanks Deb.

  183. Toni McCormick

    Deb, I ALWAYS over do the food processor method. Could I do this using my kitchen aid mixer (I’ve done pate brise in it just fine)?

    2nd question–can I sub the confection sugar w (drum roll please) POWERED MAPLE SUGAR????
    ***EPIPHANY*** I just ordered granulated & powdered Maple sugar — I’m incorporating it into a LOT of Thanksgiving desserts.

    1. deb

      I haven’t worked at all with powdered maple sugar but my hunch is that it will be fine. I worry less about overblending tart shells, tbh, because I feel that a cookie-like texture is fine. Let me know how it goes; sounds delicious.