We all know that what separates a good pie or tart from a great one is the pastry crust. No matter how juicy and sweet the fruit filling or how smooth and creamy the custard, if the pastry is undercooked or overcooked, then the dessert becomes one of those "bless her heart" moments. A good pastry or pie dough isn't really hard, there are just some techniques required that ensure success. We made this tart shell using crunchy fine cornmeal, which is pulsed with flour, powdered sugar, and salt to make it even finer. Don't overwork the dough as you press it into the pan or it will become crumbly. You can roll a rolling pin across the top of the tart pan to get an even, smooth finish. Cornmeal adds a touch of nutty flavor to the tart shell which makes this a great choice to use for your fall baking. We used this cornmeal tart shell with a ginger custard in this Ginger-Fig Tart with Cornmeal Crust, and you can also fill the tart shell with your favorite apple pie or fruit pie filling. This recipe will also work well when making mini tarts for luncheons or parties.


Credit: Greg Dupree; Prop Styling: Heather Chadduck Hillegas; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

Recipe Summary

30 mins
20 mins
1 hr
2 hrs
10 mins
1 (9-inch) round tart shell


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Lightly coat a 9-inch round fluted tart pan with removable bottom with cooking spray. Pulse flour, powdered sugar, cornmeal, and salt in a food processor until well combined, about 5 pulses. Add butter; pulse until mixture resembles small peas, about 10 pulses. Add egg yolks; process until mixture is evenly moistened and crumbly, about 10 seconds.

  • Transfer mixture to prepared tart pan; firmly press mixture into bottom and up sides of pan. Chill until firm, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°F.

  • Bake in preheated oven until golden brown, 20 to 22 minutes. Transfer tart shell to a wire rack (still in pan); cool completely, about 1 hour.