tart dough for fruit tarts
My sweet dough is all too crumbly, chunks sometime separate from the shell. Even when the shell doesn't fall apart, the dough is still too crumbly. Why does this happen and what can I do to correct it? (The recipe I use for a 9" pan calls for 1C flour to 1 stick butter, plus egg yolk and some ice water.)
I can't comment on why your recipe is too crumbly - how much water? But I will recommend Fran Gage's galette dough recipe for tarts made in pans (not for freeform tarts).
Cream the room temperature butter, adding sugar, eggs, and vanilla, then flour. This dough can be rolled out or simply pressed into a tart pan.
6 ounces softened unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 extra-large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups flour
from her book Bread and Chocolate
Have you tried to put it in a food processor? I use a pate brisee most of the time, similar to your recipe. Instead of working it with my hands (they are hot) I do this. It incorporates the butter into the flour fast, after a few pulses then if it's still too dry, add a touch of cream or ice water (literally a drop or two).
Are you using real butter or a substitute? That'll make a lot of difference.
The egg yolk adds fat to the recipe but, without the white, you may not have enough binding agent in the mix. If you'd prefer not to use the whole egg, sometimes it's enough to use the yolk alone in the dough then brush the beaten white on the finished tart shell.