This is one of the most common tart crust recipe used in French baking. It’s finer and tastier than regular pie crust (see shortcrust (pâte brisée) recipe) but because it’s sweet you can’t use it to make savoury pies or overly sweet tarts like Quebec sugar tart or butter tart. It’s wonderful with lemon, dark chocolate, fresh fruits

I like it better with almond meal because it will soak up some of the humidity; the baked tart shell will have a nice crunch. It will also get an appealing golden hue without needing to eggwash. If you have a nut allergy, you can do the nut-free version.

It’s also really easy to make if you follow the steps. It’s easier and quicker if you have a stand mixer but it’s totally doable by hand.

If you don’t use all the dough, you can freeze it for later use, make sure you flatten it to 4cm (1.5″) thick again).

With sweet shortcrust pastry, it’s usually easier to use pastry rings instead of a pie dish. They’re more shallow than most pie dishes, therefore they’re better to make tarts with the proper ratio crust/filling. They give an elegant look to your baking and, most importantly, it’s a lot easier to take the rings off compared to a pie dish!

Cream the butter and icing sugar together in your mixer bowl (with the paddle) or with a spatula until well combined.

Add the almond flour and mix.

Add the egg and vanilla (or spices) and keep mixing with the paddle or a spatula.

Sift the flour and add it to the mix. Add the salt. Keep working the mixture with the paddle or a spatula until it starts to form a dough. Don't overmix here or the dough might be more challenging to handle later, it will tear more easily. If you press with your finger and pull in one direction, it should be supple and flatten easily, not be crumbly or stick to your finger when you take it off.

Dust the worktable with a bit of flour and finish kneading with your hands until the ball is smooth.

Press on the ball with your hands to flatten it until about 4cm thick (1.5").

Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before using it. If you try to use it right away it will stick to your worktable and rolling pin. Letting the dough rest is mandatory.

You want to work with a cold dough but not straight out of the fridge because the butter will make the dough too hard. Leave it a couple minutes at room temperature. If it's too warm, it will tear as you try to line the ring (or pie mould). If that happens, put it back in the fridge until it's cold enough. If you have really warm hands, you might need to wear vinyl gloves to handle the dough.

It's ok to line the ring with segments of dough that you piece back together in the mould by pressing with your fingers, you won't be able to tell when it's baked! Just make sure there are no holes if you want to fill it with a liquid batter. The ideal thickness is 3 to 4mm (1/8"to 3/16).

You can bake the tart crust "à blanc" (with no filling), for example if you want to pour chocolate ganache or lemon curd or make a fresh fruits tart. Pre-heat your oven to 300F (150C). A foolproof method to get a flat bottom on your pie crust is to put a piece of parchment paper on the crust and place some dried beans (like soy beans) on it. Bake for 12 minutes, remove the beans, if the tart shell still looks pale, put it back in the oven for a few minutes until golden everywhere. These pie shells will keep well in the freezer for up to 1 week in an airtight container.

If you want to put a very moist filling like lemon curd or pastry cream, you might want to brush the bottom of the crust with a thin layer of melted white chocolate. That will isolate the filling from the crust and avoid it to become soggy.

You can also fill the tart shell (for example with almond cream and fruits) and bake it all at once. Pre-heat your oven to 325F (165C), put the filling in the unbaked (or partially baked) shell, and let it bake for however long it takes for the filling and the crust to be fully cooked (for example about 25 minutes with 2cm of almond cream filling).