I remember when I first joined Antoinette, the first task given to me was to mould tart rings. And hundreds of them at that. And at that point of time I had never moulded a tart in my life. Ever. That’s probably why before I started working I never baked a pie or a tart because I was really bad at rolling the dough. But when you’re in a professional kitchen, they have this thing called a laminator to do the rolling for you so that part was settled. But the moulding, that was hard. I took 4 hours to mould all the rings, and with help at the last hour. Oh yes, you could probably say I’ve moulded enough tart rings to last me a lifetime ever since I started pastry as a career. But all this just takes practice and in no time, you achieve speed as well as quality work. Just gotta find the right technique and note what to look out for!
Then I got to school and because it’s a programme on classical French pastry, you gotta do everything by hand. No laminator. I was afraid. I tried not to doubt myself and just went for it, watching his demonstration like a hawk on its prey and hey, for the first time in my life I rolled a dough, and it actually looked circular for that matter. Lining tart rings are difficult. It’s a simple basic, but one hard to get right and perfect. Especially when you’re lining a big tart ring with no base support. For instance, the 20cm tart ring I’m using in these photos. Challenging because firstly, well, it’s big. Big’s intimidating right? Secondly, especially if you’re working in a warm environment or if you have really hot hands, handling soft doughs (like Pâte Sucrée) and moulding it in such a large ring is almost impossible. It breaks, it melts, it’s too soft and all other contributing factors. It requires speed, accuracy, and a gentle touch to get these babies done.
I don’t claim to be an expert for I myself have torn and broken so many before. Thank goodness I have cold hands, one less obstacle to face. But based on the numerous tart rings of various sizes I’ve ever done and based on my mistakes, I thought I could give you a little demonstration for those who have the same problem I had and are terrified of anything (dough + rolling) related.
1. Take a small knob of cold butter and using your index finger, swipe several times across the inner part of the ring. (This ensures that your dough sticks and doesn’t sink unevenly when you bake it.) Gauge how much dough you need for the size of your tart ring so that you will not have too much excess. Have your dough in round form as best you can. If it’s too hard, use a rolling pin to hit it, turning the dough clockwise with every hit. That way you can retain a uniform and circular shape.
6. Trim the edges with a knife. Ideally, you want the edges to be of the same thickness at every turn as shown above.
Even thickness and a smooth surface is key to a well-lined tart ring.
My chef in school taught me to lift it up in the light to see how even you rolled your dough out. If it has the same translucency throughout, you know you worked and rolled the dough evenly. If some parts are darker, it means that area has slightly more dough. (If it’s a soft dough like the one I’m working with, chill it before you do this or the dough will fall apart and tear especially when it’s so big)
Control the temperature of the dough (If it’s too hot let it rest in the fridge before continuing) and work with speed and you’ll be creating the most stunning tart shells in no time!! ;)
2. Lightly flour your dough when necessary and roll it turning it clockwise every time you roll. Again, this ensures it stays in a circle. As you turn the dough every time you roll, naturally feel to check that the thickness of the dough is the same. If one part is thicker, you know to apply more pressure at that corner on the next roll.
3. Roll it out to a thickness of about 4mm for large tart rings because you don’t want them to break so easily. Ensure that it is rolled till just more than enough to mould the tart ring. You don’t want so much excess as it is difficult to work with. Cut with a knife if it is too big. If it is too small, use another cold dough of a bigger size. You don’t want to roll it out too thin just to fit it in the ring. Using a flour duster, brush off the excess flour on the dough.
4. Prick the dough with a fork. It’ll be loads easier if you have a docker. Using the rolling pin, roll it up and unroll it over the tart ring with the docked surface on the bottom.
5. Gently press the dough to the corners of the ring. This is an extremely important step as if there are any air pockets between the tart ring and the dough at the edge, the tart will sink while baking. Mould it as best you can and try not to make too much indentations with your fingers. You want the dough to be as even as possible.
As mentioned before, the dough has to touch the edge of the bottom of the tart ring to ensure good baking and beautiful tart shells. An extremely crucial step to take note of.