Here are a few notes from my direct experience. I’m an amateur, so take them for what they’re worth. But know I’ve made this about thirty times since August, so I’m basically an expert. JK, don’t ask me any questions.
1 / I follow the recipe to a T for sweet tarts, but for savory I eliminate the sugar and add a teensy bit more salt.
2 / I made a lot of tomato and goat cheese tarts this summer, and the dough stood up like a champ to the juicy, ripe tomatoes. Just be sure to add the flour to the bottom of the tart shell before adding your tomato slices. Crumble as much goat cheese over the top as you want. Sprinkle some course sea salt over the tomatoes right before you pop the tart in the oven. By the way, a tomato tart is the perfect way to cook those lifeless grocery store tomatoes you find in winter.
3 / If the pastry breaks apart around the edges when you roll it out, or if it rolls into a weird non-circular shape, don’t stress. Just cut and paste. I take a little bit from over here and press it into the dough over there. Works every time. No one will ever know.
4 / The pastry dough recipe makes enough for two tarts. Horray, more tarts! Sometimes I make an apple pie and cover it with the second crust. To seal it properly, you need about a half-inch overhang. Fold the bottom dough over the top dough and roll it in towards the center. Crimp with your fingers. Cut slits in the top of the pie to let the steam out.
5 / For perfect flaky pastry, you need a HOT oven and COLD pastry dough. Don’t skip over the steps that ask you to chill the dough, or place the tart/pie in the freezer before baking. And make sure your oven is good and hot.
6 / For tarts, place parchment paper on your baking sheet. Cool on a wire rack. The parchment paper makes it easy to lift the tart right out of the baking sheet and onto a cutting board. For pies, I recommend placing your pie dish on a baking dish in the oven just in case your pie bubbles over.
7 / About the baking time, listen carefully: I’ve made this recipe in three different ovens and the timing was completely different for each one. What did I learn? After 45 minutes, turn on your oven light and take a peek inside. You’re looking for a nice golden crust. If your fruit or savory filling looks like it’s on the verge of burning, you can always drape a piece of foil lightly over the top of your tart.
In summary: Life is hard, but making pastry dough from scratch doesn’t have to be. In fact, it might be exactly the kind of flakey, buttery meditation you need. The process will anchor you in that unwavering part of yourself that exists beyond anxiety, hopelessness, and exhaustion. At the very least, it will taste outrageously good.