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Browned Butter Tart Dough

Browned Butter Tart Dough

When I first saw David Lebovitz mention a new (to him, at least) tart dough technique, I was intrigued. There are all kinds of dough that you can use as the base for a tart, but most are similar to pie dough or pate brisee, where cold butter is cut into a flour mixture and either rolled or pressed into a pan. This tart dough recipe is more like the dough for choux pastry. It starts off with a hot, melted butter mixture into which flour is stirred to create a dough. Definitely non-traditional, but it is easy to make a produces a great result.

The original recipe David discussed, which he got from a pastry loving (and teaching) friend, Paule Caillat, in Paris, calls for heating the butter mixture in the oven in an ovenproof bowl until it is hot. I found this idea to be, well, a little unsafe. I hate handling water baths or any other liquid in the oven and I didn’t like the fact that I couldn’t monitor the mixture as it cooked. Instead, I chose to cook my mixture in a saucepan on the stove until the butter began to brown and created a base with a rich, deep, toasty flavor. Another advantage to using the stovetop is that you are easily able to handle the pan when you go to stir the flour in; there is no need to fuss with potholders, a hot bowl, a spoon and flour all at once!

Once cooled, the dough can be pressed into a tart pan and used as an uncooked pastry base or prebaked to support a filling that doesn’t need to be baked itself. The crust is tender, crisp and melts in your mouth. The browned butter flavor comes through in the crust alone and will add a great accent to all kinds of fillings. A chocolate truffle filling might overwhelm its flavor, but a cream cheese and fresh fruit filling or a lemon curd filling would be a great match here.

Browned Butter Tart Dough

Browned Butter Tart Dough
6 tbsp butter
1 tbsp vegetable oil
3 tbsp water
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup + 2 tbsp (5oz) all purpose flour

In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients except flour over low heat. Cook for 15-20 minutes, allowing the mixture to simmer and cook, until butter mixture begins to brown and take on a nutty scent. Dump in the flour all at once and use a wooden spoon to stir vigorously until the dough comes together into a ball. Remove from heat and turn out out into a 9-inch tart pan. Press down gently to flatten slightly and let cool for 5-10 minutes, until cool enough to handle easily.
Using your fingers, gently spread out the dough into a thin layer over the bottom of the pan and up the sides of the mold.
Once crust is evenly distributed, prick the bottom several times with a fork.
Crust can now be used for a baked tart, or baked at 400F for 13-15 minutes (or until browned) for an unbaked tart filling. If prebaking, the tart crust should be cooled completely before using.

Makes 1 9-inch tart.

Note: This recipe would really be a stretch for a pie crust; it would be very, very thin if you tried to pull it up the sides of even an 9-inch plate. You can, however, use a pie plate if you don’t have a tart mold and just take the dough halfway up the sides to create a nice crust.

Browned Butter Tart Dough, unformed

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  • Memoria
    May 6, 2009

    OH! I saw this post yesterday! I have been curious about it ever since. I’m glad to see that you tried it out. I’m glad it turned out perfectly. I plan to try this very soon.

  • Carrie Z
    May 6, 2009

    I love the flavor of brown butter! I think I will try it this weekend with cream cheese and fruit…thank you for sharing!

  • Jenn's Baking Chamber
    May 6, 2009

    Sounds very intriguing, i’l have to try it next time I make tarts! I’ll probably make it with a cream base and fruit like you suggested

  • Janice
    May 6, 2009

    I just tried Cook’s Illustrated chocolate chip cookies with browned butter. I can’t believe the flavor and complexity the browned butter imparts. I can’t wait to try this tart dough.

  • Ashley
    May 7, 2009

    I was really intrigued when I saw this tart dough on David’s site. Good to know that it worked well for you too!

  • Simran
    May 7, 2009

    I saw this at David’s too and have put it on my next to-try list.

  • Kim
    May 7, 2009

    Yum! It will go perfect with the lemon tart I’m making for mothers day. The recipe says to press it into the tart pan, do you think it could be rolled out instead or is it too soft for that. I’m terrible at pressing doughs, they always end up so uneven. Thanks!

  • Nguyá»…n Huyền
    May 16, 2009

    Thank you for sharing. I will practice your repice in next weekend.Thank you again.

  • Penny
    August 14, 2009

    This crust is delicious and very easy so I’ll be making it again!!

    I made it last night, and here’s what I learned:

    – it’s not enough crust for a 9 inch tart pan, so next time I’ll double it
    – it took a really long time for the butter to brown on low, so next time I’ll bump up the heat on the stove sooner than I did last night
    – the style of crust is a crumbly, soft crust, so I’m glad I left the tart in the pan

  • Katie
    December 28, 2013

    Great recipe! I much prefer press-in doughs over rolled doughs, so this was great. I didn’t want the browned butter flavor this time, so I just cooked the butter mixture until it was melted and bubbling a bit. The dough is definitely a little thin on the bottom but it held together perfectly with minimal crumbling and was a perfect neutral backdrop to the very flavorful tart I was making. Definitely will use again!

  • M M
    February 12, 2014

    I made the oven browned butter version from Dave’s site. I used blackstrap molasses/white sugar. I use it for cheesecake. The tart dough is thin in my 9 inch spring form pan. I might double the recipe to see if a thicker crust is better but this is the best crust I ever had on a cheesecake. I tire of graham cracker crusts so I am very glad to find this. Now I wonder about a keylime pie. Not just for Tarts. Very good freestanding crust. Having fun, thanks!

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