I used to be terrified of tart-making, until my dear friend Aaron, who’s as obsessive about flavor as I am, came up with this recipe after years of experimentation. Both versatile and forgiving, it works for any fruit or savory tart. Once you can make a delicious tart, practice making a beautiful one. Lay out toppings with an eye toward aesthetics. Alternate different-colored plums, apples, tomatoes, or peppers for a striped pattern, or simply dot an asparagus tart with dollops of seasoned ricotta for contrast. The more senses to which your food appeals, the more delight it’ll bring you.
One note: If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can make this dough in a food processor or by hand with a pastry blender. Just make sure to freeze all your tools, no matter which ones you use.
- Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Freeze, along with the butter and the paddle attachment, for 20 minutes. Chill the crème fraîche and cream in the fridge.
- Put the bowl of the dry ingredients on the stand mixer and fit with the paddle attachment. Turn the speed to low, and slowly add the butter cubes. Once the butter is added, you can increase the speed to medium-low.
- Work in the butter until it looks like broken-walnut-size pieces (don’t overmix—bits of butter are good!). This will take about 1 to 2 minutes in the stand mixer, a little longer by hand.
- Add the crème fraîche. In some cases, this will be enough to bind the dough with a bit of mixing. In other cases, you might need to add a spoonful or so of ice water. Resist the urge to add so much water, or mix for so long, that the dough comes completely together. Some shaggy bits are fine. If you’re not sure whether or not the dough needs more water, stop the mixer and take a handful of dough in your palm. Squeeze it hard, then gently try to break it apart. If it crumbles apart very easily and feels very dry, add more water. If it holds together or breaks into a few chunks, you’re done.
- On the counter, pull out a long piece of plastic wrap from the roll, but do not cut it. In a quick, fearless motion, flip the bowl over onto the plastic wrap. Remove the bowl, and avoid touching the dough. Cut the plastic from the roll and, lifting both ends, use it to encourage all of the dough into a ball. Don’t worry if there are some dry bits—the flour will eventually absorb the moisture with time. Just twist the plastic tightly around the dough, press the ball into a disk, and chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.
- To freeze the dough for up to 2 months, double-wrap it in plastic, then wrap it in aluminum foil to prevent freezer burn. Allow the dough to defrost in the refrigerator overnight before using.
Reprinted with permission from Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking by Samin Nosrat, copyright © 2017, published by Simon & Schuster.