Pâte sucrée is the fancy French term for sweet tart dough. Simple and versatile with a tender crumb, this dough is well suited to a variety of beautiful dessert creations—think fresh fruit tarts and silky custard pies. While working with pastry can be intimidating initially, it doesn’t need to be! With a well-tested recipe as your friend, you’ll master this go-to dough in no time. The easy recipe below makes enough tart dough for 2 shells, which means you can save one in the freezer for a future baking emergency.
1 stick + 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1½ cups all-purpose flour + more for dusting, divided
9-inch tart pan with removable bottom
1. Make Dough: Set aside butter to soften at room temperature, about 15 minutes. In a large bowl, stir together powdered sugar and softened butter until fully combined. Stir in 1 egg yolk, scraping bowl as needed. Add ½ of flour and stir until dough is becoming crumbly. Add remaining flour and stir until fully incorporated. Gather dough into a ball, then divide into 2 equal pieces. Flatten into disks and wrap each portion in plastic. Place in refrigerator to chill for at least 1 hour.
2. Knead Dough: Sprinkle flour onto a clean dry surface. Using the heel of your hand, knead 1 portion chilled dough until malleable and slightly warm. Return to refrigerator to chill for about 5 minutes.
3. Roll Out Dough: Sprinkle more flour onto a clean dry surface. Using your palm, flatten chilled dough lightly. Using a rolling pin, roll into a round, 9½–10 inches in diameter. Using a fork, prick holes all over surface. Place dough over 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Using your thumbs, ease dough down and press to create flush contact with bottom and side of pan. Using a small knife, trim excess dough so it’s flush with top of ring. Place tart shell in freezer to chill until firm, 25-30 minutes. Meanwhile, position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F.
4. Bake Tart Shell: Transfer chilled tart shell to oven and bake until golden brown, 12-15 minutes, then remove and gently transfer shells to a wire rack to cool. That’s it! Use as desired, saving remaining dough for another day’s craving.