Sunday, September 23, 2012

A new take on tart

I didn't waste any time putting my pastry lessons into practice, because soon after, five Wellington food bloggers came to my place for a pot luck Sunday lunch.  Heather brought me this fragrant basket of herbs and lemons from her garden and her own grapefruit marmalade.

The day before, I girded my loins and set about making my own short pastry BY HAND, using Dean Brettschneider's recipe from his terrific new book, Pie (Penguin Books). I took the precaution of buying a commercial packet too, just in case it didn't work - but it did, so well I was incredibly pleased with myself. (One thing did go wrong, but I'll come to that.) And though it took time, it was not difficult.

Basic short pastry 
(pâte brisée)
(My comments are in italics.)

160g standard plan flour
120g butter
good pinch of salt
50ml cold water

Put an ice cube into 50ml of water in a small Pyrex jug, let it melt, then pour out the excess.
The butter should be chilled but not hard. Cut it up into little dice.
Place flour, butter and salt in a large mixing bowl. Using your fingertips, gently rub these ingredients together until they resemble rough breadcrumbs. Do not overmix, otherwise the butter will begin to melt from the heat of your fingers.

Add water and mix until a dough is formed.
(This is a bit unclear - I needed to add enough water so that the crumbs stuck lightly together, put it on the bench then gather it up lightly into a ball of dough.)
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for (at least) 30 minutes or overnight.
Gently rework pasty before using, taking care to ensure it remains cold and firm.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out pastry into a sheet about 3mm thick, or as stated in your recipe.

When I rolled it out, the pastry was surprisingly resilient - it didn't crumble or tear easily as I thought short pastry would - so I was a bit worried. I had the oven on ready, so I baked a bit of trimming first as a trail, and was hugely reassured when it came out beautifully light and crisp.

I went ahead and blind baked an oblong tart case using a Swiss roll tin (see previous post for blind baking) and put it carefully away in an airtight box to be filled and baked again in the morning.
Everything worked, EXCEPT that my carefully pressed in sides, sticking up just a little as Sebastien showed us, shrank down. I worked out that I shouldn't have used the fan in the oven - straight "bake" would have been better. Fortunately I put in a shallow filling, so it didn't matter.

For the filling, I adapted the Harriet Harcourt recipe I've already written about here. She doesn't say to blind bake the case first, but I think it works well to do that if there's time. On top of the grainy mustard, instead of potatoes and brie, I spread bits of the roasted garlic I'd made the day before when I baked the case. (You trim the top off a head of garlic, drizzle a bit of olive oil over it, wrap it in foil and leave it in a 200C  oven for 45 minutes, then squeeze out the soft garlic inside - very satisfying.) Then I crumbled over bits of goat's cheese...

....and topped it all with the thyme and the  mixture of eggs and creme fraiche in the original recipe.

With a green salad and French bread, it went down very well. Then we moved on to Lucy's cheeses. with honey and hazelnuts ...

 ...and the four French desserts (sorry, I snapped only three of them - there were also chocolate eclairs!). Of course, we had to sample them all, but there were no complaints about this (as if). I laughed more than I have for ages, it was merveilleuse. Merci!


Alexia said...

Oh that savoury tart looks so delicious!

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Food That Tastes Great said...

Hi Anne

Thanks for your review - I've bought the book too, and had great fun cooking two of the pies. Fantastic recipes, and I've really enjoyed making my own pastry after too many years of shying away from it.

I really enjoy your blogs and hearing about your cooking.
Best wishes