Tart Shells Made Easy!


Jamie Oliver, i.e. The Naked Chef, is one of my all-time favorite chefs. My sister-in-law, Sondra, bought me one of his cookbooks a few years back and the tart shell recipe is absolutely amazing! It is amazing on so many levels:
1. It tastes great! - little hints of lemon zest throughout
2. It is made in a big batch so that you can freeze some in logs for later use (perfect for last minute desserts!)
3. It doesn't require rolling out the dough to a perfect consistency--in fact, no rolling at all.

Perfect Sweet Pastry
1 cup plus 2T butter
1 cup plus 6T confectioners sugar
a medium pinch of salt
just over 1 lb (about 3 1/4 cups) flour
seeds from a vanilla bean (or I use vanilla extract)
zest from 1 lemon
4 egg yolks
2-4 T cold milk or water

Stage 1
Cream together butter, sugar, and salt, then rub or pulse in the flour, vanilla, zest, and egg yolks. When mixture has come together, looking like coarse bread crumbs, add the cold milk or water. Pat together to form a ball of dough. Be sure to not touch the dough too much at this point. Light, quick moves.
Stage 2
Roll the pastry into a really large, short and fat sausage shape (sometimes at this point I do 2 rolls and freeze one for later use). Wrap in plastic wrap and put in the fridge for at least an hour.

Stage 3

Carefully slice off very thin slivers of the pastry. You can make slices thicker if you want but remember that the tart will take longer to cook.
Place the slivers all around the tart, fitting them together like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Push the pieces together and tidy up the sides. Place in the freezer for an hour.(if in a hurry you could skip this step, if absolutely need-be).

Refer to your individual tart recipe for baking instructions for the shell or the filled tart. Enjoy!