Nut Tart Dough {ModBak}

The Sweet Tarts & Pies section of The Modern Baker includes three dough recipes: sweet tart dough, chocolate nut dough, and press-in cookie dough. This recipe is a variation of the sweet tart dough, and even though it’s not an official Modern Baker Challenge recipe, I found it interesting enough to merit its own post.

This dough calls for the same ingredients as the sweet tart dough — flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, butter, eggs, and water — with the addition of 1/2 cup of chopped nuts. Since I was making this dough for the chocolate orange hazelnut tart, I naturally used hazelnuts in the crust.

I began by mixing sugar and chopped hazelnuts in the food processor, then adding the rest of the dry ingredients.

I blended in the butter, then added an egg, egg yolk, and water and pulsed until the dough held together in a ball.

I preshaped the dough into disks, then wrapped and refrigerated the dough for a few hours before rolling it out and pressing it into tart pans.

This dough makes a really delicious crust. It wasn’t quite as flaky as the regular sweet tart dough, but it was still rich, buttery, and had additional flavor from the hazelnuts.

I will definitely use this crust the next time I make the chocolate orange hazelnut tart. And I might even try it for some of the other tarts in this section.

Roman Almond & Pine Nut Tart {ModBak}

I made this recipe a few weeks ago but am just getting around to blogging it now. I’m not sure why it took me so long. Like most recipes in the Sweet Tarts & Pies section of The Modern Baker, this one was quite simple to put together. In fact, since I already had homemade almond paste in the fridge and pine nuts in the cupboard, I didn’t even have to buy any ingredients.

I made the filling in the stand mixer by beating almond paste and sugar, then adding eggs, butter, vanilla, lemon zest, and flour. I scraped the filling into a sweet tart crust.

I topped the tart with pine nuts and pressed them in with the palm of my hand. Pine nuts seemed like a strange addition to a sweet tart, and I was anxious to see how it would turn out.

I baked the tart in a 350°F oven for about 30 minutes, until the crust was baked through and the filling was set.

I cooled the tart, then sliced and served it for dessert.

J is a pine nut nut, so I knew she would love it. And I liked it a lot, too. It tasted like an almond cake or bread. The filling was baked through and had a texture that reminded me of scones. The pine nuts gave it a nice texture and complimented the almond flavor.

This is one of those recipes that I might never have made but for the Modern Baker Challenge. But I’m glad I tried it. And I will probably make it again.

Press-in Cookie Dough {ModBak}

There are three crust recipes in the Sweet Tarts & Pies section of The Modern Baker. I have used the sweet tart dough several times, always with great results, and I was looking forward to trying the other dough recipes. So when I decided to make the bittersweet chocolate tart, I was happy to see that it called for this dough for the crust.

Unlike most of Nick’s other pie and tart crust recipes, this one starts with room temperature butter, which is mixed with granulated sugar and vanilla extract in the bowl of a stand mixer (another departure, as his crust recipes are usually mixed in the food processor). After beating the butter mixture to a light texture and color, an egg yolk is added, then flour is folded in by hand with a rubber spatula.

After mixing the dough, I scraped it out onto a floured board, pressed it into a rough cylinder, and divided it.

The dough was really soft and hard to work with. It seemed like it would benefit from a short rest in the refrigerator, but the recipe said to work with it right away, so that’s what I did.

I pressed the larger piece of dough into the bottom of the pan and worked it in as evenly as possible.

Next, I divided the remaining dough in to three pieces and worked them as best I could into ropes, which I then pressed into the sides of the pan and trimmed to fit.

I covered the dough with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for later. I ended up making the bittersweet chocolate tart the next day, so I waited to bake the shell until then. When I was ready to bake the crust, I took the tart pan out of the refrigerator and pierced the dough with a fork to keep it from forming air pockets as it baked.

I baked the crust at 350°F for 20 minutes, until it was firm and golden. It smelled just like a sugar cookie while it baked, and I was sure it would taste great.

I had some leftover dough, which I shaped into cookies and baked with the crust. They were quite good, so I knew the crust would be perfect for a sweet tart.

This is a great crust that is quick and easy to make and is perfect for those who have a mental block when it comes to rolling out pie and tart doughs. My only issue with it was that the initial dough was too soft to work with and would have benefitted from about 30 minutes in the fridge before attempting to press it into the pan. I made a margin note in the recipe to do it that way next time.

Pumpkin Pecan Buttermilk Tart with Cinnamon Whipped Cream {ModBak}

The second recipe I signed up to post for the Sweet Tarts and Pies section of the Modern Baker Challenge was one I knew right away I would love. I’m a huge pumpkin pie fan. In my house we eat them year-round, and we always make at least two at a time — one for the day it’s made and the other for the next day, starting with breakfast. And if you need some left for, say, Thanksgiving dinner, you have to bake a few more. And no one makes them like my mom.

So I was excited to try Nick’s recipe to see how it would stack up to mom’s normal, back-of-the-can recipe. Having made the bourbon-scented pecan tart, which blew my old pecan pie recipe out of the water, I couldn’t wait to see what Nick would do with pumpkin pie.

Like most of the recipes in this section, this one starts with sweet tart dough. I’ve really come to love this pastry dough. It is so easy to work with, and the results are consistently delicious. Because of my family’s affection for pumpkin pie, I decided to make the full recipe. So I started with an 11-inch tart crust.

The tart filling came together very quickly. After whisking pumpkin pie filling and eggs together in a bowl, I added sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and buttermilk and mixed it all together. I poured the filling into the tart shell, then topped it with chopped pecans. The recipe said to sprinkle sugar on top, but I forgot. It didn’t seem to affect the final product, although I will definitely remember it next time so I can compare.

I baked the tart for 35 minutes at 350°F, until the crust was baked through and the filling was set.

I cooled the tart for about half an hour, then removed the sides and bottom of the pan and put the tart on a cutting board while I made the cinnamon whipped cream, which consisted of heavy cream, sugar, and cinnamon.

We ate a quick dinner of leftovers so we could have the tart for dessert. I served the tart with cinnamon whipped cream on the side, to the great delight of my family — and me.

So how did Nick’s pumpkin tart stack up to mom’s much-loved pie? Sorry, Mom. You lose this throwdown — big time. The tart was delicious — creamy, spicy, sweet, but not overly so. And the crunch of the pecans was a welcome addition, as was the cinnamon whipped cream.

This is definitely my new pumpkin tart recipe. And I have a feeling that, once I make it for Mom, it will be hers, too.

Banana Walnut Tart {ModBak}

The third recipe I made from the Sweet Tarts and Pies section of The Modern Baker was another easy and delicious tart. I had sweet tart dough left over from when I made the bourbon-scented pecan tart the other night, so this tart came together really quickly. In fact, I mixed this recipe up this evening after work — something I rarely do — and it was less than 20 minutes from the time I got the dough out of the fridge until I was putting the tarts in the oven.

I used my 4 1/2-inch tart pans and had enough dough for three tarts. I wasn’t sure how much filling to make, so I opted to halve the recipe. After rolling out the dough, I measured walnuts and brown sugar into the food processor and pulsed them until the nuts were finely chopped. Then I added butter, an egg, cinnamon, vanilla extract, baking powder, and flour and mixed everything into a thin batter.

I cut up two bananas and arranged them in the tart pans, poured in the batter, then topped the tarts with chopped walnuts. 

I baked the tarts at 350°F for about 30 minutes. The recipe doesn’t give a baking time, so I started with 20 minutes and kept an eye on them until they were done. Other than the crust, the tarts looked almost like a cake.

Now came the hardest part — waiting for the tarts to cool. I left them in the pans for about 15 minutes, then took them out and let them cool the rest of the way while I distracted myself by watching Jeopardy.

I sliced into one of the tarts. The banana looked almost like a custard filling.

I know some of my fellow Modern Bakers were a bit skeptical of this recipe, mostly because of the cooked bananas. While I understand their reluctance, having tried this tart I can tell you it is delicious, bananas and all. Nick is right when he says the bananas cook to a sweet, jam-like consistency. And the flavors of the bananas, walnuts, brown sugar, and rum all compliment each other, making this tart sweet, nutty, and hard to resist.

While I liked most of the savory tarts and pies in the last section, I think sweets are definitely Nick’s forte. And I’m looking forward to the rest of the recipes in this section.

Sweet Tart Dough {ModBak}

With April comes warmer weather (it was an unseasonable, yet welcome, 80°F here today), thoughts of summer, and, this year at least, Sweet Tarts and Pies! If you’ve followed the Modern Baker Challenge, you know that we just finished the Savory Tarts and Pies section. And while many of the bakers — myself included — claimed to be happy for the break from sweets, we soon showed our true colors. It was like pulling teeth to get the official posts up on the Modern Baker Challenge website. In the end, I had to resort to scavenging posts from this and other websites to fill in all the recipes.

But here we are, barely a week into the sweets section, and we already have half-a-dozen posts up, including Kayte’s official post for this sweet tart dough. Like its rich cousin in the last section, this dough is super easy to mix up, rolls out great, and tastes fantastic. The ingredients — flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, butter, egg, and water — are mixed up in the food processor in just a few seconds, then the dough is ready to refrigerate or roll out. Like Kayte, I found this dough benefited from about an hour’s rest in the fridge before rolling.

Once it was slightly chilled and relaxed, rolling it out was a breeze.

After rolling the dough, I folded it in fourths to move it to the tart pan.

I unfolded it in the pan, then began pressing it into place.

I used my rolling pin to cut the off overhanging dough even with the top of the pan, then pressed the edges even with the lip of the pan.

As someone who has had a long, losing battle with pastry crusts (part of the reason I undertook this baking challenge in the first place), I have really come to appreciate Nick Malgieri’s dough recipes and instructions. I won’t say they’re foolproof, as I’ve had some that I ended up having to piece together in the pan, but they are achievable, even for me.

And more importantly, they have me believing that even I can consistently make good pastry dough. The proof is in the pies — and tarts.