Fruit Tartlets and A No Roll Tart Dough

I recently had a horrible week with a looming work deadline where I was working until 3am or 5am and waking up at 7am to go to work.  Immediately after I finished the deadline, I realized I had signed up for a two dishes for teacher appreciation week.  I had ambitiously promised fruit tartlets for my son’s teachers and a main dish of ribs for my daughter’s school.  I always love how fruit tartlets look, but one of the things I hate to make is pie and tart dough.  The traditional method of cutting in cold butter (either by hand or food processor), and dripping small amounts of water, wrapping the dough and waiting for it from the fridge and then trying to work it really puts me off of making those doughs.

So it’s 10pm, the kids are in bed, and I’ve had a total of 5 hours of sleep over the past three days.  Fruit tartlets. There must be a way to make tart dough without all the hassle.  So I Google it.  I found this French Tart Dough recipe.  I read the article, but I didn’t feel like putting a bowl in an oven and having it sputter all over my oven.  Plus I felt melting butter in an oven would take too long since I was so tired and I had to make two batches.

So I made the dough (with some adjustments to the process).  All you do is melt the butter, oil, water, sugar, and salt in a pot, turn off the heat and then pour in the flour and mix quickly.  That’s it.  Let it cool slightly, but you need to work it when it’s still warm.  The best thing is you just squish the dough into the tartlet pans.  No need to butter or spray the pans.  You do need to make sure you poke lots of holes with your fork, and sometimes with this dough you have to be very careful in handling the final result, because it is a fragile/flaky final result.

As the original blog post recipe states, this wouldn’t work for a tart with a runny, thin filling.  My pastry cream worked perfectly with it.


Fruit Tartlet with No Roll Dough and Pastry Cream

Tart dough adapted from David Lebovitz, pastry cream adapted from Cooks Illustrated.  


For: 12 tartlets
30 min
15 min
Ready in:
45 min


  1. Preheat the oven to 400º F (210º C).
  2. In a medium-sized pot, combine the butter, oil, water, sugar, and salt.
  3. Place the pot over medium heat, until the butter is bubbling and starts to brown just around the edges (I was too lazy to wait to get it to start browning. Melted and started boiling fine).
  4. When done, turn off the heat and dump in the flour and stir it in quickly, until it comes together and forms a ball which pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
  5. Use a large scoop. Like and plop dough into the tartlet pan.
  6. Once the dough is cool enough to handle, pat it into the shell with the heel of your and, and use your fingers to press it up the sides of the tart mold. Reserve a small piece of dough, about the size of a raspberry, for patching any cracks.
  7. Prick the dough all over with the tines of a fork about five times, then bake the tart shell in the oven for 15 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown.
  8. Remove from the oven and if there are any sizable cracks, use the bits of reserved dough to fill in and patch them.
  9. Let the shell cool before filling.
  10. Heat half-and-half, 6 tablespoons sugar, split vanilla bean, and salt in medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat until simmering, stirring occasionally to dissolve sugar.
  11. Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks in medium bowl until thoroughly combined. Whisk in remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and whisk until sugar has begun to dissolve and mixture is creamy, about 15 seconds. Whisk in cornstarch until combined and mixture is pale yellow and thick, about 30 seconds.
  12. When half-and-half mixture reaches full simmer, remove vanilla bean, scrape out seeds and put back into mixture. Discard bean. Gradually whisk simmering half-and-half into yolk mixture to temper. Return mixture to saucepan, scraping bowl with rubber spatula; return to simmer over medium heat, whisking constantly, until 3 or 4 bubbles burst on surface and mixture is thickened and glossy, about 30 seconds.
  13. Off heat, whisk in butter. Transfer mixture to medium bowl, press plastic wrap directly on surface, and refrigerate until cold and set, at least 3 hours or up to 48 hours.
  14. When tart shell is completely cool, spread cold pastry cream over bottom, using offset spatula or large spoon.
  15. Arrange fruit on top of pastry cream, following your own design aesthetics.
  16. Bring apple jelly or apricot jelly and water to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to smooth out lumps. When jelly is boiling and completely melted, apply by dabbing and flicking onto fruit with pastry brush; add 1 teaspoon water and return jelly to boil if it becomes too thick to drizzle. (Tart can be refrigerated, uncovered, up to 30 minutes.)


Chalazae are cordlike strands of egg white protein that are attached to the yolks—removing them with your fingers is easy and eliminates the need to strain the pastry cream after cooking. If you weren’t careful enough and there is some cooking of the egg, strain the pastry cream to eliminate the solids. The pastry cream can be made a day or two in advance, but do not fill the prebaked tart shell until just before serving. Once filled, the tart should be topped with fruit, glazed, and served within half an hour or so. You can extend this time by coating the shells with some jam.

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