This master recipe for a freeform tart combines a delicious pastry crust with your choice of fruit or savory fillings. If you're making a sweet (fruit) tart, be sure to make the crisp topping, too. One trick for keeping the bottoms of rustic tarts from getting soggy (though a good hot oven does most of the work) is to sprinkle a bit of nuts or cheese over the dough before adding the filling. If you don't have those, you could use cookie crumbs or even a bit of crisp topping. 

Makes 1 regular tart or 2 small tarts; serves 4 to 6


  2. 1. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for 30 to 40 minutes. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet with parchment.

  3. 2. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and heavy cream and set aside.

  4. 3. Sprinkle a light dusting of flour on a rolling surface.

  5. 4. Roll a disk of dough out into a circle about 12 inches for a large tart, 8 inches for a smaller tart. Remember to lift your dough frequently to keep from sticking; sprinkle a little flour under and/or on top of the dough as necessary. Lift and give the dough a quarter-turn every few rolls to achieve an even circle. Transfer the dough to the parchment-lined baking sheet. (Leave room for the second tart if making small tarts.)

  6. 5. Repeat with the second disk of dough if making two small tarts, transferring it to the baking sheet as well.

  7. 6. Sprinkle the center of the dough (leaving a 2-inch border all the way around) with a couple tablespoons of your choice of grated cheese, nuts, or cookie crumbs. (Repeat with second piece of dough if making two tarts.) Then mound the filling mixture on top, again leaving a 2-inch border all the way around. (Divide filling evenly if making two tarts.)

  8. 7. Pleat and fold the edge of the dough up and over the outer edge of the filling moving all the way around until the filling is surrounded by pleated dough. 

  9. 8. Brush the top of the dough (and under the folds) with the egg mixture. If using crisp topping, arrange it over the center of the tart or tarts, letting some spill over onto the dough as well. If not using crisp topping, sprinkle the remainder of your cheese or nuts around the edges of the dough and some across the top. Or sprinkle the edges with coarse or fine sugar or a sprinkling of sea salt.     

  10. 9. Bake small tarts for 20 to 24 minutes, large tarts for 28 to 34 minutes, until nicely golden all over and crisp and brown on the bottom. Let cool on the baking sheet and eat warm or at room temperature. (Or follow tips at right for making ahead.)


Crisp Topping for Sweet Rustic Tarts

Yields enough for 1 regular or 2 small tarts

  •  2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

  •  2 tablespoons oats or very finely chopped toasted pecans, almonds, or hazelnuts

  •  1 1/2 tablespoons light brown sugar

  •  Ground cinnamon

  •  Table salt

  •  1 tablespoon unsalted butter, diced

1. Combine the flour, oats or nuts, brown sugar, and a big pinch of cinnamon and salt in a small mixing bowl. Add the diced butter and rub it in completely with your fingers until a fine, crumbly topping forms. Refrigerate until ready to use.