Make Ahead Desserts for the Entire Summer – Then Relax and Serve or Setup a Buffet
The first thing we need to think about is what type(s) of desserts we want to make this summer. I learned a long time ago (actually from my Mom) that planning ahead saves time, reduces waste and minimizes potential errors, which at times maybe costly. In my opinion, the desserts of the summer have to be light and refreshing, taking advantage of the many seasonal fruits on the market, need very little work, can be prepared ahead, not adding heat to the home, use ingredients that are readily available and lastly should not forget the taste.
Did you guess what fits all the above? If you guessed TARTS, you are a winer.
- Tart dough provides the best base for the presentation of summer fruits
- It is easy and fast to prepare
- We can prepare a number of tart doughs simultaneously, using different recipes and freeze them for later use
- With a frozen, pre-baked tart base we are always ready for unexpected guests
- Tarts are lower in calories (it only has a base, no tops like pies do and usual filled with fruit)
- Even people on gluten-free diet can enjoy it because you can make the tart dough with almond flower, or coconut flour, or similar
Please stay with me through this series, because we will have a lot of fun while learning some new methods; and the best part of this series is that you will have a variety of nearly ready made desserts for the entire summer with very little work.
Just think about this: no need to bake every weekend and heat up the entire home to above the outdoor temperatures 90F to 100F; no more panic when unexpected guests show up; and no more biting nails for, what if the dessert you are rushing to make will fail.
Extra Bonus: You will learn a “fool-proof” method in creating professional looking and delightfully tasting tart doughs. Moreover, you will be able to control the texture of the tart. This series is similar to the one I wrote on …..about reading recipes correctly.
I can hear you say: “But that is boring to have tarts only the entire summer”
Not so, says me: Georgette, the Hungarian maverick (just kidding).
Not all tart doughs are equal – and that is a good thing
I understand that even cookbooks can confuse you at times. It is not secret that pastry chefs are known to differ in their mixing methods, use of ingredients, ratios of components, and baking methods I am sure you heard the expression: “there is more than one way to skin a cat”. I believe it was a pastry chef the coined this term.
Some books go even as far as using pies and tarts interchangeably. Do not follow that example.
The 3 Main Type of Tart Doughs
Pate Brisee – “broken dough”; actually means flaky, layered-textured dough
Pate Sucree – “sugar dough”; it is actually Pate Brisee with higher sugar content which makes the dough more tender and crumbly
Pate Sablee – “sandy dough”, mostly used for cookies; basically a Pate Sucree with even higher content of sugar and less liquid; it is also called the “shortbread” dough.
Did you know that these doughs can be divided into many sub-tart doughs (i.e. like using different ratios of flours, varying the methods used for mixing the ingredients, adding an ingredient that is specific to the individual dough, and more) and even the sub-tart doughs can be divided into “new ingredient-specific” doughs (like adding cream cheese to a dough, adding melted chocolate to a dough, or using ground almond instead of flour, and so on..). All these variations create tart doughs with different textures, novel mouth-feel, extraordinary appearance, fresh taste, and more. Do you see where I am going with this? And I did not even touched the fillings.
Pate Brisee (Flaky dough) Experiment
Initially we will work with the Pate Brisee recipe only using a combination of two flours:
- cake flours
- all purpose flours
The ratio of one flour to the other will be modified:
- Ratio of cake flour to all-purpose flour will be 1:1
- Ratio of cake flour to all-purpose flour will be 3:1
- Ratio of cake flour to all-purpose flour will be 1:3
All the other ingredients are the same in all three doughs. This will let you see, and if you decide to make it, you will also see, feel and taste the difference among the three tart doughs. Any difference in characteristics will be due to the difference in the type and ratio of flour used.
Most chefs recommend to use pastry or cake flour only, because it has very little protein. In addition, the recipe has very little sugar and either just butter or butter and shortening.
Pate Brisee with 1:1 ratio of cake and all-purpose flour.
A brief note:
Pate Brisee is the only tart recipe that is supposed to produce a flaky, layered-textured tart base. If you are successful with this dough (and why shouldn’t you be), then no matter what it is that you will prepare for the filling, the success of the tart is nearly guaranteed.
Pay attention how we will prepare the dough, because it is also the only one that is not prepared by mixing the butter and flour in the food processor.
(contains cake and all-purpose flour in a ratio of: 1:1)
6 ounce () All purpose flour
6 ounce ( ) Cake flour
6 ounce ( ) Sweet butter, cut into small cubes
1 large egg
1 teaspoon white vinegar
Cold water as needed
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
2-3 tablespoons heavy cream
- Chill everything: the bowl, the rolling-pin, the tart pan, etc. Keep the flour, butter, water, vinegar in the freezer and the egg and heavy cream in the refrigerator until ready to be used. Following using the rolling-pin, the bowls, or pans – always place them back into the freezer. Every item used in this process should be kept cold .
- After weighing out the flours, sift them into a large chilled bowl.
- The butter must be kept at 58F to 68F until used, so it does not softens to the extent that it melts into the flour. European butters are better because they have higher fat and less water content as compared to the American butter that has about 15% water. Moisture is known to inhibit flakiness because it glues together the layers of the dough; European butter has about 12% water, therefore, it helps to create a more flaky pastry.
- Add the salt and sugar to the flour mixture.
- Place the chopped butter on the top the flour mixture then freeze it for 15 minutes
- Butter the tart pan (you can use either an 8 or 9 inch loose-bottom-type tart pan); make sure to cover the sides and the corners.
- Remove the bowl from the freezer, separate the chopped butter and pour the flour mixture into a work area that is lightly dusted with flour.
- Place the chopped butter on top of the flour mixture, take the rolling-pin out of the freezer and start to beat the butter pieces into the flour mixture.
- Gather the flour/butter mixture into the center of your work surface area and start to roll the butter into the flour mixture, just like you would roll a dough. It may look to you “funny”, because what you are rolling is not a dough yet; just pieces of butter with flour, but it is perfectly OK to roll.
- Gather this mixture into a chilled bowl and freeze it for 15 minutes.
- After 15 minutes, remove the bowl from the freezer and pour its content on the a lightly floured work surface. Once again take out the rolling-pin from the freezer and start to roll this mixture as if it was a dough and continue to flatten the butter into the flour mixture.
- Now roll out the dough into a circle and place on the center the egg, and heavy cream and now with your hand incorporate these newly added items into the dough. Try not to work the dough too much. Just until the egg and heavy cream incorporated. If the dough is still dry, add very cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time.
- Gather this mixture into the center of the work area (the mixture at this stage should resemble a “loose” dough) and place it into the chilled bowl. Repeat this process two more times.
- Take the flour/butter mixture, which by now should start to resemble a dough, out of the freezer and pour it on to the floured work surface area. Now start to roll it with the chilled rolling-pin back and forth, until you see that it starts to stick together to form a dough. You can add a tablespoon or two cold water now, to help the “dough-forming” process. The dough should be in a rectangular shape.
- Fold the dough as if it was an 8 X 11 letter-size paper to be placed in an envelope and place it in the freezer for 15 minutes. Repeat this process two more times.
- Roll the dough into a rectangle, fold it as described above and cover it with a plastic wrap and a foil wrap on top of the plastic wrap. Place it into the freezer for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes take out the dough from the freezer, place it on a lightly floured surface area and roll it into a 1/8 inch thick circle with the chilled rolling-pin.
- Roll the dough around the rolling-pin, take the buttered tart pan and place it under the rolling-pin and let the dough fall into the tart pan.
- Push the dough in the pan to spread over the entire surface area; make sure the corners are filled, as well. Cut the excess dough around the tart dish and use it for patching up the sides, if needed (usually it does). If you still have excess dough keep it for decorations, or for an individual tart.
- Pick the bottom with a fork all around, cover it with a foil wrap and place it into the freezer. At this stage, you have two choices:
- a.) leave the dough in the freezer until you want to use it. The dough can be kept up to three months in the freezer, as is.
- b.) alternatively, keep the dough for 30 minutes to 1 hour in the freezer, than remove the foil paper. Preheat the oven to 375F, cover the dough with a new foil paper and place either store-bought pie weighs or beans, or rice, etc. on the entire surface of the dish to weigh down the dough and bake it for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, cut the oven temperature to 350F, remove the pie weighs along with the foil wrap and bake the tart for another 15 minutes, or until it gets a nice light brown/reddish color. Now you have a pre-baked tart dough. This can also be freezed, but in this form I would not keep it longer than 3-4 weeks. wrapped well with parchment paper.
See both the side and top view of the dough – layered-texture is visible on both photos. There are no crumbs. The top view is somewhat better for showing the flakiness.
If you made it, or decide to make it could you let me know how did it come out? BTW you can use any filling that you like. Also, as I said before, you do not need to pre-bake the dough; you can prepare them into the tart pan and freeze them as is until you decide to use them.
Please feel free to ask me any questions you may have. I will be delighted to respond. I would also appreciate it if you could leave a comment and a “like” on my Facebook page.