My all-time favorite tart and pie crust recipe comes from Jacques Pepin’s book, The Art of Cooking. You simply mix flour and cubes of cold butter in the bowl of a food processor. Add a little water and presto, perfect dough.  What I call Jacques’ Fast Flaky Pastry for Pies and Tartes is my go-to recipe for so many treats.

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Many have published this terrific recipe because it is foodproof.  Even if you over/undermix, you will achieve quality results. Like any great recipe, this one teaches you a basic skill. Once you feel comfortable making the dough, you’ll find ways to make it your own too. To make a flakier crust, leave the butter in larger chunks.  To make a crust that is more uniform in texture after baking, cut the butter into smaller pieces before using.

strawberry Rhubarb Almond Tart closeup

For savory tarts, I like to toss in a few pinches of dried herbs, red pepper flakes and black pepper.  (Try this in a crust for a sliced tomato tarte.) For something slightly sweet, add a few teaspoons of brown sugar to the flour before mixing. Substitute whole wheat flour for a quarter of the all-purpose flour in the recipe if you want an earthier flavor and appearance.

I include the recipe here, edited according to how I mix the dough, because it is both useful and versatile. Merci M. Jacques.Pear Frangipane Tart

Jacques’ Fast Flaky Pastry for Pies and Tartes

Yield: Enough dough for a 2-crust pie or one large open-faced tart


8 ounces (about 1 ½ cups) all purpose flour, chilled in the refrigerator

¼ teaspoon salt

6 ounces unsalted butter, cut into several pieces then frozen

1/3 cup ice water


  1. Place the flour, salt and butter in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel cutting blade. Process for 5 to 8 seconds until the butter is cut into somewhat smaller lumps, about 1/2-inch cubes. Do not over mix.
  2. Add the water and process for 5 seconds until the flour is moistened.
  3. Dump the mixture into a large bowl and gather up dough into a ball. Knead gently if necessary, just to bind the ingredients. (If the dough seems too dry, add a few tablespoons of water until you can gather the dough into a ball.)
  4. Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate at least 30 minutes before using.