FINALLY. I know it seems like I’ve been holding onto the recipe, but between good lighting for pictured, and the rest time, and making sure it’s right….sometimes it takes for freakin ever to get a recipe done and up.
This is not a particularly inventive recipe. It’s basic as hell. It’s the same as 9000 other pastry recipes because honestly how many different measurements of flour, sugar, and butter can there really be and have them all work out? It’s not the quantities that this recipe is about – it’s the technique. It’s about where I suspect we’re going wrong when we try to sub in GF flour for a tart shell recipe.
This is all you need for a perfect tart pastry. King Arthur GF Measure for Measure Flour, powdered sugar, 1 egg, and unsalted butter.
The problem is when you take principles that apply to wheat flour, and keep following those rules with gluten free kinds. Take kneading, for example. You knead dough in order to build the gluten proteins, which gives breads and pastries their structure. Gluten-free flour, however, will often get overworked if you try to knead it (since there’s no gluten to build).
I noticed that when I stopped doing a few key things that I had been doing in previous failed tart shell attempts, they started coming out perfectly every time.
Mistake #1: Not blitzing enough in the food processor.
You add the flour and butter to the food processor and bits until it looks like fine breadcrumbs. This is REALLY important that you actually take it to the breadcrumb stage. With wheat flour, if the chunks of butter are too big, you just end up with a more flaky, pie-like crust because the gluten proteins trap the moisture from the butter. With gluten-FREE flours, there’s no gluten to trap anything so you just end up with a WET pastry dough and doesn’t crisp when you cook it and thus the dreaded soggy-bottom. Go all the way to breadcrumbs.
This is where people typically stop pulsing in the breadcrumb stage. You need to go a LITTLE further.
THIS is where we want to be after pulsing the butter in fully. Fine breadcrumbs.
Mistake #2: Adding water until it comes together.
When you’re making standard short-crust pastry dough with a wheat flour, you’ll add the egg and water and then blitz until the dough just comes together. If you keep adding water with GF flour to get it to come together – you’re going to add too much water and once again we’ve got a wet dough and a soggy shell. Instead of using ‘just coming together’ as our marker, just add the 1 egg and 1 tbsp of water and blitz it until it’s combined. Then you test it by grabbing a tbsp or so worth and squeezing it together. If it holds and forms a ball, you’re good. If not, add a SPLASH more water. It’s very easy to go overboard and ruin it with the water.
After a few pulses with the egg and water. No need to add any more water to pulse it again. Test to see if it binds together
Mistake #3 – Kneading (well, trying to)
This doesn’t need kneading. Dump it out onto the cling film and then just use the saran wrap and your hands to bring the crumby-looking mixture into a ball. Don’t freak out if it looks like apple of breadcrumbs right when you tip it out of the food processor – it will come together, and it will hold.
Tip it out onto some cling film. It’ll be crumbly – that’s fine. Use your hands and the cling film to form it together into a disc.
Mistake #4 – Not working cold
This is true of all pastries. You have to keep it cold. The butter’s gotta be cold. The water cold. The egg cold. Once it’s done, chill it in the fridge for 30-60 min. Then roll it out and put it in the shell. THEN chill it AGAIN before baking.
So far, I’ve made this tart shell like 10 times, and every single time I’ve done it exactly how I have it written here – it’s come out perfect. The ONLY times it’s failed are when I’ve veered away from any aspect of what I have written here. From using a different gluten-free flour, to not using a food scale to weigh ingredients, to cutting the butter into the flour with anything other than a food processor…literally any change I’ve made has failed.
When done correctly, you end up with a crumbly yet crisp pastry that is perfect for velvety tarts of all varieties.
I have only successfully used King Arthur Measure for Measure Gluten-Free flour. I tried with the King Arthur All Purpose and it was way too wet and fell apart in the oven. I suspect you could use it with additional flour and removing the egg. I have no idea if it works with another flour or flour blend. That’s up to you to try and I would love to hear how it goes!
You might want cup measurements for this but I can’t advise using anything other than grams and a food scale. Like I said – ANY variation from what I have here exactly hasn’t quite worked out for me so I’m sticking to what has repeatedly worked. That means weighing.
Once you’ve got the pastry shell, the possibilities are basically endless. I’ve made curd tarts: lemon, good orange, raspberry, cranberry, blackberry…frangipane: apple, pear…and I plan on making a holiday panna cotta tart sometime this week.
Ready. Set. Bake!
Gluten Free Tart Shell
Four ingredients to a perfect tart shell is all in the technique.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Resting Time 45 mins
Total Time 1 hr 20 minsCourse: Dessert
Keyword: Baking, Gluten Free, Pastry, Tart
Servings: 1 10′ Tart Shell
- 225 grams King Arthur Measure for Measure Gluten Free Flour
- 100 grams unsalted butter cold and cut into 1/2″ cubes
- 50 grams powdered sugar
- 1egg lightly beaten with 1 tbsp cold water
- In a food processor, combine the cold butter and the flour. Blitz until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Then, add the sugar and give it another few pulses. Lightly beat the egg with 1 tbsp of water, add to the food processor and pulse until mixed in. The dough will NOT come together in the food processor like a standard pastry crust would with wheat flour. Resist the urge to add more water. Test it by grabbing a tbsp worth and squeezing it. If it binds together, it’s ready.
- Tip your pastry onto a sheet of cling wrap. It’s very crumbly! Don’t panic! Use your hands and the cling wrap to form it into a disc. Wrap it up and then leave in the fridge to chill for 30 min to 1 hour (or throw it in the freezer if you’re making the dough far ahead of time of when you’ll be making a tart then put it in the fridge for 2-3 hours before you’re ready to use it to thaw).
- When you’re ready to make your tart, take the dough out of the fridge and let it sit for a few min – just to take the chill off.
- Sprinkle some flour over some parchment paper, and a bit more on top of your disc. Roll the dough out relatively thin (1/4” maybe), making sure to keep it in a circle. You want the dough to be a few inches bigger than the bottom of your tart pan to make sure that there’s enough pastry to go up the side of the tin.
- Once it’s big enough, slide the bottom of the tart pan under the dough. Gently fold the excess into the middle of the tin bottom and then transfer the whole think into the tin. Unfold the party and press into the sides all the way around. Make sure to seal up any holes that form and get it pressed into the corners of the tin. When you’ve got the whole tin covered with pastry, use a sharp knife to trim the excess off of the top (or simply roll your rolling pin over the top to chop it all off).
- Prick the bottom a few times with a fork, and then put the whole thing into the fridge to chill again for 15 min. Preheat the oven to 375 F (350 convection) with a cookie sheet in the oven.
- Blind bake the tart shell. Cover it with parchment paper and fill with either baking beads, dried beans, or rice. Put it on the pre-heated cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes, then remove the parchment and beans/rice, and bake an additional 10 min until lightly golden.
The pastry needs 30-60 minutes to chill before it’s ready to use. Make sure to consider that and plan ahead!
Measuring is important with this recipe in order to have it work perfectly each time. Use a food scale to ensure the correct amounts.