A rich, flaky gluten free tart crust filled with garden tomatoes, fresh basil, and shredded cheese, baked to perfection, and served at warm room temperature.
What makes this gf tart recipe special?
There are two important things about this recipe, and you won’t want to miss either one.
First, it uses tons of summer tomatoes. Second, you’ll learn how to make an extra-rich savory gluten free tart crust that you’ll be looking for more reasons to bake with.
Late summer means plenty of zucchini, demanding to be used. It also means that tomatoes are cheap, and fabulous. If you’re like me, your garden’s tomato plants have been struggling valiantly to bear ripe fruit all summer that they are only now beginning to provide.
You could easily use my basic gluten free pie crust recipe as a tart crust, but I prefer a slightly different recipe for rich savory tart crust. The secret’s in the egg yolk, which makes for a richer crust that browns and flakes for a crust that’s almost shortbread-like, but savory.
One great thing about baking tomatoes is that the less-than-perfect-ones (and when you grow them yourself, that’s what they look like!) are perfect for this.
And with all that cheese and fresh basil, even though my oldest child swears she does not eat cooked tomatoes unless they are blended into tomato sauce was begging for more.
How to make this rich gf tart crust
This tart crust is a rolled-out pastry crust, not a press-in crust. It doesn’t have to be par-baked before it’s filled, and it still turns out super flaky and layered.
Like all pastry, the crust is made by keeping all of your ingredients cold while you work with them. You’ll begin with chunks of cold butter that are tossed in the dry ingredients and flattened so that they can be combined into the dough properly.
The main difference with this tart crust as compared to our gf pie crust recipes is that it has an egg yolk whisked into the cold water that brings the dough together. That adds richness and helps the crust brown even without baking it on its own before adding the fillings.
Is tart crust the same as pie crust?
Tart crust is very similar to pie crust, but isn’t exactly the same. The egg yolk in this crust super rich and so flaky it’s almost crumbly, like a shortcrust pastry.
A tart pan is helpful, but not essential. A tart pan has shorter sides than a pie pan, and a somewhat exaggerated fluted edge.
Tart pans typically come in two parts, with a separate rim and a removable bottom. That allows you to remove the baked tart from the pan easily.
Unlike a pie, which can usually be sliced into portions right in the pie pan, with its lower sides, a tart is typically sliced on its own. Simply press up on the bottom and you’ll separate the tart from the rim. Remove the bottom, and slide the tart onto a cutting surface.
Ingredients and substitutions
If you can’t have dairy, you’ll need to replace the butter in the tart crust, and the cheese in the filling. For the butter, to make dairy-free pastry of any kind, I usually begin with Spectrum nonhydrogenated vegetable shortening since it’s solid at cool room temperature and is pure fat.
Shortening does get rock hard when it’s very cold, so don’t chill the chopped shortening for too long before making the tart crust, or before it’s shaped. Otherwise, the shortening will become super hard, which makes it difficult to flatten and roll out properly.
In place of the shredded Gruyère cheese, I’d recommend trying Violife brand dairy free cheese. Violife makes different varieties of block dairy free cheese that shreds and melts.
The egg yolk adds richness to the tart crust, helps it brown in the oven, and even makes the crust a bit flakier without using sour cream like in our extra flaky gluten free pie crust. If you can’t have egg yolks, you can try adding a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil in its place.
If you can’t have the egg white that we use to brush the raw top of the tart crust after it’s pierced with a fork, you can try brushing the crust with a bit of cream. I haven’t tried either of these egg replacements, so you’ll have to experiment.
3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
8 tablespoons (112 g) unsalted butter, roughly chopped (into large chunks) and chilled
1 egg (50 g, weighed out of shell), separated
1/2 cup (4 fluid ounces) cold water, plus more by the half-teaspoon as necessary
For the filling
6 ounces grated Gruyère cheese (or another semi-hard cheese)
1 1/2 pounds ripe but firm tomatoes (preferably a mix of beefsteak and plum), sliced 1/4 inch thick, about half seeds from each slice removed
12 leaves fresh basil
1 1/2 tablespoons (21 g) extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
For the flour blend
Better Batter itself, or our mock Better Batter recipe, doesn’t make for very flaky pastry here. If you don’t have my Better Than Cup4Cup blend, you can also use Cup4Cup itself, or our recipe for gluten free pastry flour, which turns Better Batter into something more like Cup4Cup.
First, make the tart crust. In a large bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum and salt, and whisk to combine well. Add the chopped and chilled butter, and toss to coat the butter in the dry ingredients. Press each floured chunk of butter between a floured thumb and forefinger to flatten.
In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolk (reserve the white) and 1/2 cup cold water until well combined. Create a well in the center of the large bowl of dry ingredients, add the egg yolk and water mixture and mix to combine. The dough will come together.
If there are any very crumbly bits, add more ice water by the tablespoon and mix to combine. Knead the dough together lightly just enough to press it into a disk.
Transfer the dough to a large piece of plastic wrap. Cover and press into a disk. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.
Once the dough has chilled, preheat your oven to 400°F. Grease the bottom and sides of a 12-inch tart pan with a removable bottom and set it aside.
Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface. Dust the surface with a bit more flour, and roll it out with a rolling pin into a 1/2-inch thick rectangle. Fold the rectangle in half lengthwise, dust again lightly with flour, and roll the dough out again into a 1/2-inch thick rectangle.
Once more, fold the rectangle in half lengthwise, and then fold again widthwise to create a thick square. Dust the square lightly with flour, and roll the dough out into a round that is about 14-inches in diameter.
Transfer the round of dough to the prepared tart pan, and press it gently into the bottom and the sides of the pan. Trim the edges of the dough flush with the upper edge of the sides of the pan.
Pierce the bottom of the tart crust with the tines of a fork about 20 times. Brush the bottom surface of the crust generously with the egg white. Place the crust in the freezer until firm (about 5 minutes).
Once the crust has chilled, remove it from the freezer, and fill it. Scatter about half of the grated cheese in an even layer over the bottom of the crust. Place the tomato slices in a tight but even layer on top of the grated cheese. Scatter the basil leaves on top of the tomatoes.
Drizzle the filling evenly with the olive oil, sprinkle evenly with the salt, and cover with the remaining grated cheese in an even layer. Place the tart pan on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Place the baking sheet with the tart on it in the center of the preheated oven. Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F, and continue to bake until the tomatoes are soft, and the crust is an even, golden brown (about another 25 minutes).
Remove the tart from the oven and allow it to cool for 15 minutes before removing it from the tart pan. Slice and serve at warm room temperature.
The tart can be covered and refrigerated for a couple days before serving. Warm in a 250°F oven before serving.
Originally published on the blog in 2013. Core recipe unchanged; photos, video, and most text new.