Caprese Tart with Super Easy, Fool-Proof Pie Crust

Caprese Tart by The High Heel Gourmet 25

I’m so busy with tomatoes right now. I eat them fresh in salad, grill or bake them for breakfast, poach them in curries, stir-fry them with meat, vegetables and noodles like in Pad Kee Mao (Drunken Noodles), and make soup with them. I wouldn’t be surprised if I found some on my pillow in the morning because I would just assume that they came out of my ears while I was sleeping. I also preserve, jam, glaze, soak them in syrup, and make sauce with them too. Are you enjoying tomatoes as much as me during summertime?

I have many recipes that I love to cook with tomatoes. The recipe I’m giving you today is one of the top five. It’s my easy tomato tart or, if you want to call it a Caprese tart, it probably wouldn’t be too far off.

Last year, I gave you a recipe for my “Wholesome Pomodoro Sauce” that uses almost all parts of the tomato to make sauce that you can store for the rest of the year. The tomato season has come along again and I still have a few jars of it left. Normally I would either make ketchup with last year’s sauce or make Caprese tarts.

If we’re talking about tarts, then we have to talk about the tart shell. I usually make my tart shell the same way I make pie crust. You know the traditional way of putting cold butter in flour and using a fork to cut the cold butter to mix with the flour, or using a food processor to pulse the mixture, then adding cold water to make it a dough, right?

I had been making pie crust that way for years but then t I remembered how my mom’s friend, Auntie Mary, made all kind of pies and tarts for us and I didn’t remember her rolling any pie crust, ever! Her pie crust was always flaky and delicious, too.

I was so young back then and wasn’t paying much attention, but I remember that when she was baking the crust by itself in the oven she weighed down the bottom of the crust with giant red beans or kidney beans. I didn’t realize the purpose behind it. She also stood in front of the stove for a while too! Stove shouldn’t have anything to do with a pie crust, isn’t it. All of these made no sense to me while she was doing it.

I recently had a chance to communicate to her again via email (since she now lives in Germany) and asked for her pie crust recipe, and to my surprise, boy, it’s so different from mine. If I didn’t see her do it time and time again or didn’t eat her pie many, many times, I wouldn’t believe that this was her pie crust recipe. It sounded like a choux pastry shell recipe without eggs!

Anyhow, I have a very strong belief in her, so I followed her recipe and the result was a pie and tart crust that is foolproof and guaranteed successful. She said she chose to use this recipe all the time while she was living in Bangkok because of the climate.

With an average temperature between 85-90 degrees there, and 90% humidity, she didn’t want to be bothered with the “other” pie crust recipe because she had no way to keep the butter cold unless she turned the AC on while she was making pie. A German lady born and bred, she couldn’t waste precious energy just to make a pie for her kid, so she used this recipe.

Ingredients for the pie crust

Butter 1/2 – 1/3 cup (75-90g)

Vegetable oil 1 tablespoon (10g)

Sugar 1 tablespoon (12g)

Water 3 tablespoons (45g)

Salt 1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon

This is how I measure everything. After one ingredient, I zero my scale again and add the next ingredient. Less mess to clean. I do measure the flour in a separate bowl, though.

This is how I measure everything. After one ingredient, I zero my scale again and add the next ingredient. Less mess to clean. I do measure the flour in a separate bowl, though.

All-purpose flour 1 1/4 – 1 1/2 cups (175 – 200g)

Method for the amazing pie crust

1) Put EVERYTHING EXCEPT THE FLOUR in a pot, set it on the stove at medium high heat until the content bubbles and the butter is all melted.

The green you see is just reflection. These are butter, oil, sugar, salt, water.

The green you see is just reflection. These are butter, oil, sugar, salt, water.

Caprese Tart by The High Heel Gourmet 3

Ready…Set…Go…at medium high heat.

After heating it for a while, it starts to bubble. DO NOT BE FOOLED BY IT. It's not ready yet.

After heating it for a while, it starts to bubble. DO NOT BE FOOLED BY IT. It’s not ready yet.

This might fool you that it's ready but it's not yet! It's only getting close to ready.

This might fool you that it’s ready but it’s not yet! It’s only getting close to ready.

These are the bubbles I'm talking about. Turn off the heat and add the flour IMMEDIATELY and stir VIGOROUSLY!

These are the bubbles I’m talking about. Turn off the heat and add the flour IMMEDIATELY and stir VIGOROUSLY!

2) Turn off the heat and add the flour, stirring vigorously until the dough comes off the edge of the pan.

This is the result.

This is the result.

Close up. Yours should look smoother than this. I'm using whole wheat flour to make the crust.

Close up. Yours should look smoother than this. I’m using whole wheat flour to make the crust.

3) Let it sit until it is cool to the touch, then press it in the tart or pie plate.

Let it rest. It only takes about 5-10 minutes. I didn't cover it. (We want to cool it down, right?)

Let it rest. It only takes about 5-10 minutes. I didn’t cover it. (We want to cool it down, right?)

Press it down along the edge of the pie or tart plate.

Press it down along the edge of the pie or tart plate.

4) Poke holes in the tart shell and put “pie weights” on top of the flat part of the crust, if you have them (like a string of metal beads, or uncooked kidney beans, for example.) If you don’t, it’s okay. The crust might curve up off the pie plate a little but you can push it back. Set aside a ball of pie dough about a size of your thumb to help fill in the cracks.

Make sure that you pierce through the whole shell. This crust is very famous about bubble up during the bake.

Make sure that you pierce through the whole shell. This crust is very famous about bubble up during the bake.

5) Bake at 400F for 10-15 minutes then let it cool before filling. (For some pies and tarts, like apple or cherry, you would par-bake this crust for half the time.)

This type crust doesn't shrink as much as normal crust, but reserve a little ball to fill in the cracks in case it cracks during baking. This one didn't have any cracks.

This type crust doesn’t shrink as much as normal crust, but reserve a little ball to fill in the cracks in case it cracks during baking. This one didn’t have any cracks.

Amazingly easy, isn’t it? Try it, and you won’t believe the result.

Once you have the tart shell, next you have to fill it. I use my “Wholesome Pomodoro Sauce” to make the base. I cook it again separately until it’s pretty dry before I use it. If you don’t have any, use tomato paste mixed with a can of tomatoes—that should be good.

This is where I started. Typical pomodoro sauce: only garlic, olive oil, salt and a dash of balsamic vinegar. No more than that. I want the taste of tomatoes. You can add any spices you like, oregano, onion or even ground beef or meat balls--your preference. In the end, you're the one eating this!

This is where I started. Typical pomodoro sauce: only garlic, olive oil, salt and a dash of balsamic vinegar. No more than that. I want the taste of tomatoes. You can add any spices you like, oregano, onion or even ground beef or meat balls–your preference. In the end, you’re the one eating this!

This is about a minute of two from ready. (I forgot to take a picture of the "ready" one...sorry) If you can see the water when you part the sauce like this, cook it a little more.

This is about a minute of two from ready. (I forgot to take a picture of the “ready” one…sorry) If you can see the water when you part the sauce like this, cook it a little more.

Ingredients for the tart filling

Fresh tomatoes, sliced  about a cup

Mozzarella cheese, shredded  about a cup

Basil leaves  about a cup

Pomodoro sauce or tomato paste mixture (see Note #1)

Caprese Tart by The High Heel Gourmet 11

Method for the tart

1) Line the tart shell with 2/3 of the basil leaves. The leaves should be dry so the shell doesn’t get soggy.

I know I'm insane but it's so satisfying to see all the basil leaves, line up in a row! It's like playing with tin soldiers only my soldiers are softer...lol

I know I’m insane but it’s so satisfying to see all the basil leaves, line up in a row! It’s like playing with tin soldiers only my soldiers are softer…lol

The whole army, ready to attack!...From an insane High Heel Gourmet General!

The whole army, ready to attack!…From an insane High Heel Gourmet General!

2) The 2nd layer is mozzarella cheese to cover the basil leaves.

I like this kind of mozzarella cheese than the pre-shreds one but the result from the pre-shreds mozzarella is better due to the less water content (or may be the flour would help absorb the water). This big chunk is really stretchy and hard to cut but hmmmmm...yummy.

I like this kind of mozzarella cheese than the pre-shreds one but the result from the pre-shreds mozzarella is better due to the less water content (or may be the flour would help absorb the water). This big chunk is really stretchy and hard to cut but hmmmmm…yummy.

3) Put tomato sauce base on top of the cheese

"Don't dig your finger in it to taste the sauce"...I chanted this while I put the sauce in.

“Don’t dig your finger in it to taste the sauce”…I chanted this while I put the sauce in.

4) Arrange the sliced tomatoes on top of the paste, alternating with basil leaves

It's so beautiful. It's deserved a little head shot.

It’s so beautiful. It’s deserved a little head shot.

5) Top with more mozzarella cheese

Sprinkle some salt and pepper on top.

Sprinkle some salt and pepper on top.

6) Baked at 350F for 20-25 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbling

"DON'T CUT IT JUST YET" ...another chant...I needed these chants or my husband wouldn't have anything to eat!

“DON’T CUT IT JUST YET” …another chant…I needed these chants or my husband wouldn’t have anything to eat!

7) Let it cool, unless you want to scald your tongue and the roof of your mouth like I do. It’s tastes so great hot I can’t resist!

I put more fresh basil on top of the tart too...

I put more fresh basil on top of the tart too…

Note
1) Cook chopped garlic in olive oil, then add a can of crushed tomatoes (or whole) and mix in a can of tomato paste, and cook the water out. Season with salt and a dash of balsamic vinegar or you can go through all the trouble and make your own Wholesome Pomodoro sauce with the recipe here.

Caprese Tart by The High Heel Gourmet 22

To everyone who nominated me for an award or awards, I’m so honored. Thank you so much for your kind consideration and nomination. After this summer when all these fruits and vegetables and the weddings are over, I will try to find some time to post the awards posts. I’m barely keeping up with my regular blogging right now. So sorry. Even though I didn’t put the award page up right away, I was not shunning them at all. I just wish for 28 hours in a day, just 4 hours more, please.

I know part of it is poor time management on my part, as my husbanditor would have say (husbanditor is the special breed of husband cross-bred with an editor. Result: tough, sweet, brutally bossy but obedient to the household requests). But how can you resist the beautiful figs, kumquats, peaches, nectarines, pluots, berries and tomatoes? How can you not want to cook, eat or preserve them? Oh, maybe because I have to pack to go to another wedding!

You can follow me on my Facebook page or Instagram for unofficial updates of my experiments and gourmet investigations.

48 thoughts on “Caprese Tart with Super Easy, Fool-Proof Pie Crust

  1. Such a delicious looking tart, and yet so easy to put together! I have always had a disability with pie/tart crust, so I will have to try your easy method and see if I can finally master making a good one!

  2. Easy pastry is a WIN! I’m averse to getting dough in my fingernails, and used a variation of your pie crust method in my Double Kimchicken Peanut Butter Pie for the hilariious Korean cooking contest for non-Koreans. And your immaculately arranged tart? A double WIN!!

  3. I also have a husbandeditor so I laughed at this; I guess I’m his wifeeditor. Anyway we both love to cook, and have plenty of tomatoes from the garden now. Will have to try your delicious looking recipe.

  4. This. Looks. Delicious! I’m always on the hunt for tasty vegetarian recipes. It’s always handy to have some up your sleeve for vegetarian friends! So thank you! I can’t wait to try this!

  5. I love caprese salad! What a great idea. I have bushels of basil in my container garden and I will definitely be trying this one out!

  6. I never visit your blog until AFTER I eat. But now I am soo hungry again. Your photos and recipes that you decide on are killer.

    • Patricia
      I’m glad you made comment on my post. I was trying to contact you. I can’t comment on your blog about BC! Thank so much for posting that. I’m going to Vancouver next week for a wedding (Indian wedding so it’s 3 days) and I will get to explore Vancouver for 4-5 days.

      Do you want to recommend any restaurants? The wedding is at the Fairmont hotel.

    • It would be a show piece until someone start the first cut, then the whole pie will be gone in less than five minutes! I made this in a casserole tray if I want to serve this at a party (and it would be gone in ten minutes!).

      This little tart plate is for two people that can eat until their bellies hurt. It’s good enough for three people comfortably but for four, you have to serve something else too or there will be a fight.

      Not that “I” made them so good but the ingredients combination are so yummy on their own.

  7. Fabulous tart that I MUST try. So, I have bookmarked it for later before the tomatoes are done for the season.
    The pie crust is very similar to one I do that I stole (with proper credit) from Dave Lebovitz, http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2009/05/french-tart-dough-a-la-francaise/. I had never heard of cooking the wet ingredients and then adding the flour. It was very wild but does make a wonderful pie crust but because it cracks, it is not recommended for for a thin, custardy filling. This tomato tart would be ideal. Thanks for sharing.

    • The recipe is so similar only that his recipe (or the French’s recipe) use less flour. It made me wonder is this recipe is originally French or German? One way is the French took the German recipe then used less flour just to hype up flour:butter ratio. Or the German took French recipe and added more flour to make it more “durable” and less “fragile”.

      Regarding the crack, auntie Mary let us filled the crack with the saved pie crust. There s never a problem with liquid filling (may be an extra 1/4 cup or 25g more of flour would help too). I filled it with custard or chocolate ganache before too.

      Thanks for introducing me to another interesting blog 🙂

  8. It’s a great pastry recipe this one I’ve been doing it this way for years I got the recipe from my mum, it’s fantastice when when you don’t have a lot of time it’s so quick and easy, and it never fails. Sounds like you are having an amazing time in the kitchen with all your summer produce 🙂 I can’t wait for summer to arrive here in Australia I’m over winter.

    • I’m wondering if the recipe is well known among the Europeans. I though the recipe is German because auntie Mary who gave me this recipe is German but Rich had just show me a link that an America chef who lives in Paris blogged about this. From the link I found out that a cooking school in France taught students about this pie crust too.

      When your summer arrives, I will be so envy. I LOVE all the produces in Australia, especially the fruits. I think they were picked way later than fruits here in the US. I love the mangoes and all the tropical fruits. Amazing vegetable too, huge and delicious. I never seen celery or cabbage as big as I saw at the market in Sydney.

    • My husband is a writer and he can’t stand my “grammatically accidents”…so, I figured, if I keep making the same accident, I got his attention…heehee…I’m sure if you start playing sport, you got a good coach.

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