Be Sure To Turn Tarts In The Oven And Prevent Uneven Baking

Filled with fruit, custard, chocolate, or sweet potato, a homemade tart is a dreamy all-in-one dessert that combines buttery pastry with a yielding filling. But it can be super-disheartening when you remove one from the oven to find that some areas are burnt and others are undercooked. The solution to an uneven bake is to check and turn your tart halfway through the cooking time, which will result in a rich, crumbly tart shell with a perfectly set filling.

The truth is, that even the most modern convection ovens that circulate hot air throughout their cavities can have areas that are hotter than others. These hot spots can cause tarts to darken faster on one of their sides or edges and leave other portions looking pale and tasting undercooked. They can also result in a tart that has unsightly, burnt-fluted tips but a soft, dough-like base. Blind baking a tart shell (cooking it part way before adding the filling) can help to prevent sogginess on the bottom. However, you can still end up with an asymmetric bake if you don't check on the pastry while it's cooking to adjust its position in the oven. 

Rotating tarts as they cook also ensures that the filling has the perfect texture. This is particularly important if you're preparing a dessert like a Portuguese egg tart where you have to strike the right balance between a wobbly just-set custard and rubbery, over-baked filling.

The best time to turn tarts in the oven

To encourage an even bake when making sweet or savory tarts, peek through the glass of your oven door halfway through the cook time. If the pastry looks darker in some areas than others you'll need to open the oven door and rotate the tin or dish 180 degrees. Do this as quickly as possible to prevent the oven temperature from dropping significantly. If the temperature falls drastically, it will take more time for the oven to come back up to the required temperature, affecting the final bake time and the overall consistency of your tart filling. Keeping your oven mitts nearby on the counter will help you to turn the tarts as soon as you notice an uneven bake, guaranteeing a golden, balanced pastry shell.

Be mindful that if you've got a couple of tarts baking at the same time on different racks you should swap them around before turning them to achieve a better bake. This is because the hot air in a traditional oven rises to the top, making the uppermost rack hotter than the lower one. If your tarts are baking on the same rack, simply switch their positions and rotate as usual. Once your tarts are baked and cool you can glaze them with a sugar syrup, dust them with a delicate coating of confectioner's sugar, or simply portion them out as they are before devouring a scrumptious slice.