Tart Crust, No Rolling Pin Necessary

Casey Barber

by Casey Barber on May 21, 2012

I love it when you guys read my mind.

Last week, I put out a request for more “Ask Casey” topics on the GFS Facebook page, and among the responses was a common refrain: “Why am I crap at rolling out pie crusts?” Good thing I had this post in the hopper.

I’ve done pie crust tutorials here (using the Alton Brown roll-out method) and on ReadyMade (using the King Arthur Flour roll-out method), but today, you can put that rolling pin away. You won’t need it. The French and their all-knowing pastry ways have your back with this one, and they call it pâte sucrée.

pate sucree pie crust
Its literal translation is “sweetened paste,” but pâte sucrée is a dough, no doubt. Only it’s a shape-shifting kind of dough. Half sugar cookie, half pie crust, it’s moldable but bakes up light and tender. It’s pliant yet structured, soft yet crumbly. And yes, you really can roll it out with nothing more than your fingers.

I came late to the cult of pâte sucrée, preferring to do things the hard way, as always. (See also: the homemade junk food obsession, using reusable plates and silverware at all my parties instead of going the disposable route, driving in slightly convoluted patterns to avoid making left turns across busy streets—what? I’m like Zoolander!) But stubbornness and perfectionism can co-exist even in a dough as simple as this one.

Pâte sucrée comes together in less than 5 minutes when you’ve got a food processor—just a little longer if you’re doing everything manually. After that, it’s time to let your fingers do the walking, pushing and flattening the dough against the bottom and sides of a tart pan. It can be as rustic or as refined as you want, but either way, the dough won’t fight back. I added a little whole wheat flour to my version as a halfhearted concession to health, but you can do it with all-white flour if that’s what happens to be in your pantry.

pate sucree pie and tart crust
After a quick chill and a 15-minute bake, you’ve got a ready-to-go tart that’s just begging for a sweet filling. What to pour into it? Oh, how about:

If you want to fill your tart crust with fresh fruit and bake it like an open-faced pie, just nix the foil and pie weights below and use your favorite fruity pie filling instead. No sweat.

And when you’re ready to tackle rolled pie crusts again, don’t worry. I’ll be here for you.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Brette Sember May 21, 2012 at 9:51 am

I’ve been making the same pie crust my entire life – the way my mom taught me. I think it would be fun to try something else, so I’m going to give this one a try.

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Amber | Bluebonnets & Brownies May 21, 2012 at 11:26 am

You’ve reminded me of that delicious tart we made at KAF. Gonna have to do that when I get my pallet of strawberries.

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Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction May 21, 2012 at 4:06 pm

While I have nothing against rolling pie do, I do love a good pate sucree. I haven’t made a tart in quite a while… I think I’m going to have to fix that very soon.

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Tracy May 21, 2012 at 8:27 pm

I’ve never made a no-roll pie crust before, but it looks like something I need to try!

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Sarah - A Beach Home Companion May 22, 2012 at 10:54 am

Nice! I always avoid any pie recipe when making desserts, but I think I can handle this. Now I may finally use those tarts pans someone gave me years ago!

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sarah henry May 28, 2012 at 1:54 pm

Thanks for this. Looks like a doable dessert. And who can resist a fruit tart of lemon curd pie?

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moom June 8, 2012 at 2:30 pm

Magnifique! My fingers are up to the task and my food processor is beginning to be used for something other than pesto!

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