Everything you need to know about Tarts and Pies
A common task when working in a pastry shop is making pies and tarts. The doughs are easy to prepare as long as you know what you are doing.
Differences between tarts and pies
- Tarts can be a used for a sweet or savory dish.
- Tart doughs are made with lour, butter, sugar and eggs.
- Tart pans have sides that are straight up but not very high and have a flutted surface. The bottom of the tart pan may be removable.
- Tart crusts are usually firm and crumbly crust
- Tarts have a crust only at the bottom and the sides.
- Pies can be a used for a sweet or savory dish.
- Pie doughs are usually made with flour, butter, water, and salt.
- Pie pans have sides that are slightly sloped, but have a straight surface.
- A pie crust should have a tender and flaky crust.
- Pies have a crust either on both top and bottom (apple pie), or only at the bottom (quiche loraine) or only at the top (chicken pot pie).
Dough types used to make tarts and pies
The most common types of doughs that are used to make tarts and pies below are listed below;
- Pâte brisée (basic dough)
- Pâte à foncer (basic dough)
- Pâte sucrée (sweet dough)
- Pâte sablée (cookie dough)
- Pâte à linzer ( Linzer dough)
The raw ingredients of tart and pie doughs are relatively the same, but they vary in quantities from one dough to the other. the 5 major ingredients in pie and tart dough are fat, flour, sugar, a liquid (usually water), and/or eggs.
Pâte brisée is the dough generally used to make fruit pies, like apple and blueberry pies. You can also make savory dishes using this dough, like chicken pot pie, meat pies, etc. This type of dough consists of flour, butter, water and a bit of salt. The key to a successful dough is to have all ingredients very cold. The flour should come out of the freezer, the butter should come out of the refrigerator and the water should be ice water cold. Also do not overmix the dough, although you see lumps of butter in the finished dough. The technique used to make this dough is the sablage method. The finished product should rest in the refrigerator for at least an hour before baking.
Pâte à foncer
Pâte à foncer is commonly used when making tarts. This dough is primarily used as a crust to be filled with fresh or canned fruits, such as apples, cherries, pears, etc. The sablage and fraisage techniques are used to work the dough. This type of dough contains flour, butter, sugar, salt and water and/or eggs.
Pâte sucrée is dough that is quite sweet. It is usually pre-baked, called baked blind) and it is filled with numerous creams and fruits. Fruit tarts are made using this dough. Pâte sucrée usually consists of flour, butter, sugar, water and/or eggs. Sablage and fraisage techniques are used to make this dough.
The equivalent name in English is shortbread dough. Pâte sablée is dough that is very flacky and crumbly. Pâte sablée usually consists of flour, butter, sugar, and eggs. This type of dough is usually used to make cookies. Sablage and fraisage techniques are used to make this dough.
Pâte à linzer
Pâte à linzer is used to make tarts with filling and covered with lattice design dough. Pâte à linzer is very similar to pâte sucrée. It is more flavorful than pâte sucrée due to the almond powder and higher quantity of sugar and eggs. This dough usually consists of flour, almond powder, butter, sugar, and eggs.
Methods used when making tarts and pies
All methods used in pastry making have their purpose. For example, when using the Sablage method (explained below) to make pie dough, it's purpose is to cover the fat (butter, shortening, etc) with flour so that gluten development will be minimized. The more the gluten develops, the harder the crust will be. Why do you want to minimize gluten development? The less the gluten develops in a pie crust, the flakier the crust will be.
Preventing a soggy bottom pie crust
One common problem when baking a pie is having a soggy bottom. There are many ways to prevent a bottom crust from becoming soggy. If you need to prebake the pie's bottom crust before adding the filling apply egg wash right after baking while the crust is still quite hot.
If you are not pre-baking the bottom crust, before adding the filling, brush some sugar or raw egg whites and then add the filling. You may also apply egg whites on the crust and refrigerate the raw crust for about an hour and then add the filling, cover with top crust and bake.
Tips and tricks you must know to have success in your pies and tarts
- When making pies and tarts it is best if you prepare the dough the night before.
- Always pierce the top of the pie before baking to allow the steam to escape.
- Always apply water on the bottom crust before joining the top with the bottom crust.
- Make sure you refrigerate the finished raw product (eg; apple pie) for at least 1 hour, or even better over night and then, bake it into a preheated oven temperature specified in the recipe. Usually the temperature is a bit higher in the first 10-15 minutes of baking to give color and flakiness and then the temperature is lowered to thoroughly cook the crust.
- The more eggs you use, the flakier the dough will be.
- Apply aluminum foil all around the edges of the finished pie for the first 10 minutes of baking to prevent the edges from burning prematurely.
- The type of fat you use will affect flavor and flakiness, butter being the best choice in terms of flavor.
- Flakiness comes from using a combination of shortening and butter. A course sablage will give you more flakiness than a fine sablage.
- The amount of fat you use will affect the tenderness of the dough.
- The fat being too soft and warm, will make the dough elastic because the gluten will develop. Elastic dough will shrink when baked.
- Double the pie pan if you are using thin aluminum pie pans for more even baking.
- Eggs used as a liquid will give you a flakier dough.
- Liquid used in dough should be ice cold and minimal amount must be used, just enough to moisten the dough. Do not knead the dough but use the fraisage technique. Not enough liquid will give you a crumbly dough that cannot be gathered into a ball.
- Granulated sugar gives you a flakier dough than icing sugar.
- To avoid the dough from becoming soggy, sprinkle the dough with breadcrumbs or flour and sugar before pouring in the fruit to avoid contact between the dough and the filling.
- Unbleached cake or pastry flour promotes tenderness in pie dough.
- When baking the bottom crust without filling, this is called baking blind. In such a case once the raw bottom crust is in the pie pan, you need to add some weight on top of the bottom crush, such as another pie pan filled with beans or anything else to prevent any bubbles from forming during baking and also to prevent any shrinking. After 10 minutes of baking, remove the top pie pan and continue baking until a nice light golden color is achieved.
- If the bottom of the pie bakes prematurely, use a double pan for more even baking.