Tag Archives: Tartes

Pear & almond tart

I wasn’t sure what to expect following my last post.  Actually, I didn’t think anyone would still be following Sharky Oven Gloves, so I wasn’t expecting much of a reaction at all.  Not only am I touched (and surprised!) by how many of you are still loitering and took the time to comment, it was also really encouraging to hear that I’m not alone in feeling frustrated with the state of affairs within the food blogging community.  Thank you for sticking around guys!

Pear & almond tart 1

With my usual knack for excellent timing, things went a little haywire right after I published that post.  Between a string of minor disasters at the lab, some slightly dramatic strife with somebody (and an apparent alliteration problem), the ensuing feeling of wretchedness, finding out that I have to move house in two weeks and starting to organise the details of that, I’ve had to divert my attention away from the newly revived Sharky Oven Gloves.  But I finally have a recipe for you today: pear and almond tart.

Pear & almond tart 2

The recipe this tart is based on neglected to specify the size of tin required…  So I guessed.  My guess was entirely based on the one size of tart tin that I happen to own, and that guess turned out to be wrong.  The pastry valiantly managed to contain all the filling, but only just.  I’ve ironed out the ratios and made a few other tweaks, resulting in a super scrumptious autumnal tart – pears scream autumn to me, and the almond filling makes the tart all dense and delicious and comforting.  Exactly what one needs to fend off the sudden, unwelcome appearance of winter this week.  As for the pastry, well, yum.  It’s a chocolate pâte sablée, which I always struggle to translate – I think it roughly translates to shortbread pastry.  The internet says “sweet cookie dough” which isn’t especially helpful.  Either way, its delicate chocolateyness works wonderfully with the pears and almonds.

Pear & almond tart 3

Pear & almond tart

Serves 8-10
Adapted from Tartes maison

The pastry can rest in the fridge for up to 2 days, so can be made the day before if time is a little on the tight side.  The recipe makes more recipe than required, but you could try freezing the leftovers or making a little extra tartlet.  The honey at the end is optional, but adds a little bit extra.

Ingredients

For the pastry:
200g all-purpose flour
65g caster sugar
50g cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
150g unsalted butter
1 egg
2 tbsp crème fraîche

For the filling:
120g unsalted butter, room temperature
120g caster sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
200g ground almonds
4 tsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3 large or 4 small pears
Handful of flaked almonds
3 tbsp honey (optional)

Directions

To make the pastry:
1.  Mix the flour, sugar, cocoa powder and salt together in a large bowl.  Rub the cubed butter into the mixture with your fingers until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

2.  Whisk the egg and crème fraîche together in a small bowl before adding to the flour mixture.  Mix together with a wooden spoon until the dough starts to come together.

3.  Lay out a piece of cling-film, turn the dough out onto it and form into a disc 18cm in diameter.  Wrap in cling-film and refrigerate for at least 30 mins and up to 48h.

4.  Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/fan oven 180°C.  Butter and flour a 24cm tart tin.

5.  Remove the pastry from the fridge and carefully roll it out on a lightly floured surface to a thickness of 3-4mm.  Carefully transfer it to the prepared tart tin by draping it over the rolling pin (it’s quite a fragile pastry, so delicacy is key here).  Cut off any overhanging pastry and prick the bottom with a fork.  If your kitchen is really hot and the pastry is starting to go soft and sticky, refrigerate the pastry for about 30 mins.  Otherwise, line it with baking paper, add baking beans and blind-bake it for 5 mins.  Reduce the oven temperature to 190°C/fan bake 170°C and blind bake for a further 5-10 mins, until the pastry is just firm.  Remove the baking beans.  Keep the oven at 190°C/fan bake 170°C.

To make the tart:
6.  Whilst the pastry is baking, prepare the filling.  Cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla extract until pale and fluffy.  Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating only until just incorporated.  Fold in the ground almonds, flour and cinnamon.  Set aside.

7.  Half the pears lengthwise, peel and core them.  If you’ve used three large pears, cut each half into four segments, if you’ve used four small pears, cut each half into three segments.

8.  Once the pastry is blind-baked, spread the almond filling evenly over the base.  Lay the pears over the top, gently pushing them in.  Scatter the flaked almonds over the top.  Bake for 30-35, mins until the filling is set and golden.

9.  Just before the tart is done, add the honey to a small saucepan and heat over a low heat until very runny.  Brush the honey over the top of the tart as soon as it comes out of the oven (it can be a little difficult not to displace the almonds), then allow the tart to cool in the tin for 10 mins or so, before turning out onto a wire rack.  Serve warm or cooled to room temperature.

Enjoy!

Pear & almond tart 4

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Blueberry & almond tart

I’ll be honest, I didn’t do a whole lot of cooking whilst I was in Edinburgh – I took full advantage of my mum’s excellent cooking and effectively enjoyed a whole month of being spoilt.  It was awesome.  One of the few things I produced was when Kat came down and we went over to Craig’s for dinner and an evening which revolved around gin, wine, James Bond and much laughter with a healthy dose of immaturity, reminiscent of many evenings spent together in St Andrews.  The only thing missing were my shark-shaped oven gloves (they were busy guarding the house back in NZ).

Blueberry & almond tart 1

Oven gloves or not, we obviously weren’t about to turn up empty-handed, so we raided my mum’s recipe collection and decided to make a blueberry and almond tart.  I was super excited about being able to bake with summer berries.  Because yay, summer!  And yay, blueberries!  And yay, baking with Kat!  We ate a lot of blueberries that day.  We bought rather more than we needed for the tart, so we ate all the evidence whilst it was baking.  Healthy baking!  (That’s totally how it works, right?)

Blueberry & almond tart 2

The tart came out all purple and moist and delicious, all courtesy of the juices of the blueberries.  As well as looking pretty, it packs a marvellous blueberry flavour punch, wonderfully complemented by the ground almonds which also shine through.  I can’t wait for summer to roll around in NZ and blueberries to come into season so that I can make it again.  That said, frozen blueberries would work perfectly well, but a fruit tart in winter just seems rather anachronistic to me – anybody feel the same?

Blueberry & almond tart 3

Blueberry & almond tart

Serves 6-8
Adapted from a random recipe cutting

You can use either fresh or frozen blueberries – if using frozen then just bake them slightly longer before adding the filling.  I know the oven temperatures seem pretty hot.  The tart is best eaten at room temperature and the day it is made as the pastry will start to go a little soft if kept too long.

Ingredients

1 portion of tart pastry (recipe makes 2 portions)
5-6 heaped tbsp ground almonds
500g blueberries, fresh or frozen
2 eggs
100g crème fraîche
75g caster sugar
Handful flaked almonds, to decorate

Directions

1.  Butter and flour a 24 or 26cm tart tin.  Make the tart pastry, roll it out, transfer to the tart tin and refrigerate for 30 mins.

2.  Pre-heat the oven to 230°C/fan oven 210°C.

3.  Prick the pastry with a fork, sprinkle the ground almonds evenly over it and cover with the blueberries.  Bake for 10 mins.

4.  Meanwhile, beat the eggs together in a medium bowl.  Add the crème fraîche and sugar and whisk together.  Pour evenly over the blueberries, reduce the oven temperature to 200°C/fan oven 180°C and bake for a further 30 mins until golden.  Ten minutes before the end, sprinkle the flaked almonds over the top.  Allow the tart to cool in the tin for about 10 mins before turning out onto a wire rack to cool fully.

Enjoy!

Blueberry & almond tart 4

I’m submitting this recipe to Made with Love Mondays which is hosted by Javelin Warrior and is all about making food from scratch.

Made with Love Mondays, hosted by Javelin Warrior

 

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Pumpkin, caramelised onion, black olive & feta tart

I’m still a little seasonally-confused.  I thought that by now I’d have settled into the whole winter-in-June/July/August thing, but I guess not.  I think part of the problem is that for a fairly large proportion of the winter so far, we’ve actually had better weather and similar temperatures (at least during the day) to the summers that I’ve spent in Scotland.  A bit depressing for anybody in Scotland, but also not very helpful for my poor little brain.  My flat is on a street lined with deciduous trees, so seeing their bare branches helps to remind me that it’s winter, but there are also plenty of evergreen trees around, NZ species that aren’t fir trees.  I’m not familiar with them and their greenness sometimes throws me.  At least it’s pretty difficult not to notice the fairly short winter days with night falling at around 17:30, since it means that I walk home in the dark every day.  That’s my failsafe reminder that it’s winter.  That and the fact that our lab is significantly colder than it was during the tail-end of summer when I arrived, and I’m starting to seriously consider having a “lab blanket.”

Another great way of telling the season is by what fruit and vegetables are available.  Thank goodness for the Farmers’ Market because at first glance, supermarkets aren’t particularly helpful when it comes to seasonal food.  I saw cherries the other day and got all excited that cherry season had started because I temporarily forgot I’m in the Southern hemisphere and it’s most definitely not cherry season.  Then I saw that they were imported from the US.  Oh yeah, it’s winter here.  No cherries for me.  For the most part, they’re very good here at labelling where fruit and veg are from (which is great!), so I’ve been working on the assumption that if it’s from NZ, it’s most probably in season.  So if there’s an overabundance of NZ-grown apples, it must be autumn, even though it’s April.  NZ apricots?  It must be summer, even though it’s February.  NZ pumpkins?  It must be autumn or winter, even though it’s June.  You get the idea.  Obviously this only works for fruit and vegetables that I’m familiar with, but I think it works pretty well.

Since it’s winter, there are plenty of pumpkins and squashes around at the moment.  I love pumpkin and I’ve got plenty of bookmarked pumpkin recipes, but I often get put off because I don’t like to waste the seeds but separating them out and cleaning them can be a really time drain.  Plus pumpkins tend to be quite big, and as much as I love them, I try to vary my diet and not eat the same thing for a whole week.  Luckily I discovered that you can buy half pumpkins that are already de-seeded, which solves both problems.  Genius!  So I dug out a recipe that I’ve had my eye on for a while: pumpkin, caramelised onion, olive & feta tart.  It turned out to be quite a time-consuming recipe, but luckily I’d anticipated this and prepared the caramelised onions the evening before whilst I was cooking something else.  It might be time-consuming, but it’s not a work-heavy recipe (as long as you don’t have to de-seed the pumpkin) since the caramelised onions more or less do their own thing, as does the pumpkin and then you mix it all together, pop it into the pastry case (ok, so you have to make the pastry, but it’s not particularly difficult) and it bakes away by itself.  So you can get other things done whilst the oven/frying pan takes care of the rest.  And the end result is definitely worth it.  The sweetness of the roasted pumpkin and caramelised onions balances out the sharpness of the feta and the flavour of the olives.  Actually, I don’t think that this recipe really helped my seasonal-confusion because the olives and feta make me think of the Mediterranean, which I associate with warmth and sunshine and summer.  Despite that, since pumpkin is in season (and delicious), I’m submitting it to Simple and in Season, a blog event started by Ren at Fabulicious Food and guest hosted by Laura at How to Cook Good Food this month.

Pumpkin, caramelised onion, black olive & feta tart

Serves 6-8 as a starter, 3-4 as a main course
Adapted from Two Spoons

The caramelised onions take quite a while as it’s important to cook them over a low heat (resist the temptation to turn the heat up!), so if you’re a little tight on time, you can make them in advance (such as the night before) and store them in the fridge for a couple of days until required.  You could substitute sweet potato instead of pumpkin.  If you’d rather make a more quiche-like version of this, just add an extra egg and 3-4 extra tbsp of crème fraîche.  This tart is delicious both warm and cold, served with a dressed green salad on the side.

Ingredients

For the caramelised onions:
3 medium onions
Drizzle tsp rapeseed oil (canola oil)
1½ tbsp light brown sugar
1½-2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
½ tsp chopped dried thyme

For the rest of the tart:
Quiche/tart pastry (click for recipe or use your favourite)
400g pumpkin (weight with seeds removed)
Drizzle of rapeseed oil (canola oil)
100g pitted black olives
150g feta cheese
1 egg
3 heaped tbsp crème fraîche
½ tsp chopped dried thyme
1 tsp Dijon mustard (optional, but brings out the flavours)

Directions

For the caramelised onions:
1.  Finely slice the onions.  Add to a large lidded frying pan or saucepan, along with a drizzle of oil and the brown sugar and melt over a low heat, covered, stirring every 5 mins or so.

2.  Once the onions are golden brown (don’t worry if they’re sticking a little to the pan), add the balsamic vinegar and thyme, stir and cover, once again stirring until every 5 mins or so.  Once they are dark brown (but not burnt!), remove from the heat and let sit in their pan, uncovered.  If making in advance, allow to cool, then store in the fridge in an airtight container until required.

To assemble the tart:
3.  Butter a 24cm fluted tart tin and dust with flour.  Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/fan oven 180°C.

4.  Prepare your pastry, roll out to a 3 or 4 mm thickness and line the prepared tart tin.  Trim the edges and prick with a fork.  Refrigerate for 30 mins.

5.  Meanwhile, prepare the pumpkin.  Remove the skin, dice into about 1.5 cm cubes, and place in a roasting tin.  Drizzle with oil and toss to coat.  Bake for about 20 mins on the top rack of the oven, until softened and the edges are slightly browned.  Remove from the oven and switch the rack to the centre of the oven.

6.  Line the tart pastry with baking paper and cover with baking beans.  Blind-bake for 15 mins, remove the baking paper and beans and return to the oven for a further 5 mins.  Once removed, lower the oven’s heat to 190°C/170°C.

7.  Meanwhile, prepare the filling.  Halve the pitted olives and dice the feta into about 1cm cubes.  In a large bowl, lightly beat the egg with a fork.  Add the crème fraîche and mix together.  Add the caramelised onions, roasted pumpkin, olives, feta thyme and season with some salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Stir together.

8.  Spread the mustard over the blind-baked tart pastry (optional, but it helps to enhance the flavours in the tart) then add the filling and evenly spread around the tart.  Bake for about 30 mins until the tart is golden and the eggs and cream are cooked.  Allow to cool on a wire rack for a couple of minutes before serving (or allow to cool fully) with a dressed green salad.

Enjoy!

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Fig, goat’s cheese & chocolate tartlets

This month’s We Should Cocoa challenge ingredient, hosted by Choclette at Chocolate Log Blog, is “cheese.”  That’s right, we’re supposed to make something involving cheese… and chocolate.  I think the most obvious way of combining the two would be in the form of a cheesecake, but I’m not a fan of cheesecake (to put it mildly).  I have made cheesecake a grand total of once in my entire life, as a birthday gift for somebody who absolutely adored cheesecake.  However, the cheesecake, which, by the way, was delicious – and I know that for a fact because Kat and Craig tested the trial run for me, and I definitely trust them to tell me the truth, especially in this particular situation – suffered a terrible fate which I’m just going to refer to as the “cheesecake incident” (but if you desperately want to know what happened, I’ll refer you to point number 4 in this post) and move on, because the incident still irks me, over a year later (in case you couldn’t tell).  Somewhat ironically, the white chocolate and lime cheesecake in question was my entry for the We Should Cocoa challenge back in March 2011.

Since it’ll clearly be a while before I ever attempt another cheesecake, I had to come up with some other way of combining cheese and chocolate.  I’ve just remembered the cream cheese Kahlúa brownies that I made a few months ago – they would also have been perfect for this challenge (a bit late to think of that now though!).  Now I must admit that I’m what can only be described as a cheese fiend, but I have never considered combining cheese (proper cheese, not cream cheese) with chocolate and I was at a bit of a loss.  For inspiration, I looked the combination up in the Flavour Thesaurus, which only had an entry for chocolate and goat’s cheese, but said that they went surprisingly well together.  Initially I wasn’t sure how I could combine the chocolate and goat’s cheese, but then I hit upon the idea of a chocolate pastry case and a goat’s cheese filling of some sort.  My inspiration sort of stopped there though, and it wasn’t until a few days later that somebody mentioned something about figs and I suddenly thought of the roast figs with honey and goat’s cheese that I’ve previously posted, and wondered if I could do something similar… but in a chocolate pastry case.  There was only one way to find out…

I picked up some delicious figs at the Farmers’ Market this morning, headed home, dug out a chocolate shortcrust pastry recipe, and gave it a go.  Conveniently, the pastry requires some resting time, so I got some reading done (though unfortunately it was really boring – the biochemical workings of elasmobranch electroreceptors anyone…?  No?  You surprise me.).  I’d never tried the pastry recipe before – it tasted good, but it was very fragile, possibly because I might have rolled it a little too thinly, so I had difficulties getting a couple of the tartlets out of their tins in one piece.  I’ll have to try it again but not rolled as thinly to see if it’s a problem with the pastry in general or just this particular attempt.  The chocolate isn’t an overpowering flavour in the tartlets, but you can definitely taste it, and it goes wonderfully with the fig and goat’s cheese filling.  All in all, except for the pastry, I’m really pleased with how these turned out!  And they would definitely make an unusual but super-tasty dessert.  Since figs are in season here (did you know that they grow figs in NZ?  I didn’t!), I’m also submitting this to the Simple and in Season blog event over at Fabulicious Food – although the pastry is a bit of a faff, they’re actually super simple to throw together.

Fig, goat’s cheese & chocolate tartlets

Makes 6 tartlets
Pastry recipe from Petits plats entre amis
Filling recipe from my imagination

The number of figs required may differ depending on the size of the figs that you are using.  The rosemary is totally optional, but it adds a subtle flavour that’s a little different and unexpected.  For the chocolate pastry, make sure not to roll it too thin as I found that it’s very fragile and quite difficult to get out of the tins without breaking.  Mini springform pans would be ideal, or silicone bakeware that can easily be “peeled off” the tartlets.  The pastry needs to rest for 2h before being used, so remember to plan accordingly!  The pastry recipe makes twice the amount required for the recipe, so either double the filling ingredients or make something else with it (it works for biscuits).  These tartlets won’t keep very well, so they are best eaten the day they are made.

Ingredients

For the pastry (makes double the amount required):
250g all-purpose flour
200g unsalted butter
120g icing sugar
50g cocoa powder
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp cold water

For the filling:
12 medium-sized figs
A few sprigs of fresh rosemary (optional)
100g crumbly creamy goat’s cheese
6 tbsp walnut pieces
6 tbsp honey

Directions

For the pastry:
1.  Pour the flour into a large mixing bowl, and make a well in the middle.  Add the rest of the pastry ingredients, and mix together with a fork.  Then, knead together until the pastry comes together and is well incorporated (don’t worry if this seems to be taking a while – it does come together eventually).  Form into a ball, wrap in cling-film and rest for 2h in the fridge.

Assembling the tartlets:
2.  Remove the pastry from the fridge, and allow to acclimatise a little for about 10-15 mins.  Meanwhile butter six 10cm tartlet tins and pre-heat the oven to 180°C.

3.  Split the pastry into six even pieces, and roll each one out individually to fit a tartlet tin.  Make sure not to roll it too thinly (no less than about 6mm).  Line the tins with the pastry, and prick it with a fork.  Line each pastry case with a piece of baking paper and some baking beans, and bake blind for 12 mins.

4.  Meanwhile, quarter the figs.  When the tartlets have been blind-baked, remove from the oven, and remove the baking beans.  Make sure that the pastry case loosens from the tin.  Arrange the fig quarters in the pastry cases (8 quarters per tartlet).  Strip the sprigs of rosemary and sprinkle the leaves evenly between the tartlets, followed by the crumbled goat’s cheese and walnut pieces.  Drizzle 1 tbsp of honey over each tartlet and bake for 15-20 mins.

5.  Once baked, allow the tartlets to cool a little in their tins (the liquid will bubble down a bit and become a little less liquid-y) before turning out onto a wire rack.  Eat warm or cooled.

Enjoy!

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It’s Easter! It’s spring! No wait, autumn! Uhm what?

Happy Easter!   I must admit that I haven’t really been feeling particularly Easter-y this year.  As I’m not religious, Easter doesn’t have any particular significance to me, but I always associate it with spring.  If it’s Easter, then it means that spring is definitely here, or very nearly on its way.  Soon there will be super-cute (and delicious) lambs in the fields, ducklings in the ponds and daffodils in the parks.  Except it’s not spring here, it’s autumn.  Daylight Savings time has ended, the leaves are starting to change colour and fall from the trees, and it’s getting noticeably cooler at night.  That said, we seem to be having an Indian summer – most days are still warm and sunny, and everybody is still in shorts and skirts (one of the technicians told me the other day that by April she’s usually in jeans and boots) – so I can’t complain too much.  Confusingly, the Easter cards and decorations in the shops here are all spring-themed – little bunnies, chicks, daffodils.  New Zealand is, of course, famous for its sheep, but I can’t share any super-cute lamb photos since there aren’t any about.  I can, however, offer you a slightly fuzzy photo of some baby sharks that I took the other day when we delivered the eagle rays that I’ll be using for my MSc research to Kelly Tarlton’s (Auckland’s aquarium).  They let us go around the aquarium afterwards (it’s a serious business being a marine biologist…), so I only had my phone with me and apparently it’s not great at taking aquarium photos.  Everybody say awwwwww:

Aside from Jesus and cute baby animals, the other big thing about Easter is chocolate eggs (at least in the UK and it seems here in NZ, too).  Now I think I’m probably in the minority, but I’m really not a fan of this whole chocolate egg thing.  I’m not that much of a chocolate person to start with – I quite like (good) chocolate in things (like cake, brownies, etc.), but I don’t tend to eat chocolate on its own, and I certainly don’t enjoy cheap, bad quality chocolate on its own, whether in the shape of an egg or not.  They make me feel sick.  And I don’t really see the point of that.  I know that it stems from having given up rich foods for lent, but after 40 days of voluntary privation, surely you’d want to eat something decent and truly delicious?  Actually, the complete commercialisation of Easter really annoys me – and as I’ve already said, I’m not even religious.  Anyway, before this turns into a full-blown rant, I’ll move on…

I’d only planned on briefly mentioning my confusion over spring-themed Easter cards in autumn and the baby sharks before getting to the main point of this post: a plum and almond tart.  450 words into the post, I’ve only just mentioned it.  Woops.  Clearly being a post-grad has done nothing to help me write more concisely and keep to the point…  Despite not celebrating it, I felt a bit odd letting Easter slip by unmentioned.  In my family, it has always been an occasion that involved good food (ok, not so much if my grandma was cooking, but whenever my mum was in charge, everything was delicious).  Since it’s autumn, lamb is obviously not on the menu today for me, but it just felt so weird posting a recipe with butternut squash or venison for Easter.  So I thought I’d go for a dessert (you know, for a change).

Something chocolate-y would have been the obvious choice, but it just feels too warm outside for chocolate.  I want to eat fruit!  I was going to go down the apples and pears route, since they are very much in season at the moment, but then I got distracted by what must be the very last plums of the season.  As soon as I saw them, I knew exactly what I was going to make: plum and almond tart.  I adore tarts (har har har, etc.) – they’re so basic to make that it’s difficult to go wrong.  And their simplicity is what makes them so delicious.  I would almost always pick a fruit tart over any other kind of dessert (except perhaps crème brûlée).  This tart is no exception.  Pastry.  Sugar.  Ground almonds.  Plums.  A bit more sugar.  Oven.  Boom, done.  Simple as (good Kiwi expression that – though simple as what, I have no idea).  Oh and I threw a few slivered almonds on top, too, just for effect.  The plums turn all juicy and delicious in the oven, the ground almonds soak up any overflowing juices, and the sugar adds just the perfect balance of sweetness.  This would make a perfect end to a huge meal, or just an afternoon snack.  It’s a little difficult not to make a bit of a mess of the plums when serving the tart, but it’s so delicious that you’ll quickly be forgiven!

Plum & almond tart

Serves 6-8
Adapted from Le Larousse des desserts

The amount of plums required obviously depends on the size of the plums and the size of the tart tin that you’re using, but as a rough guide, I used a dozen medium-large plums.  This tart is best eaten the same day that it is made as the pastry will start to go a little soft if left out for too long.  Add more sugar if you are using particularly tart plums.

Ingredients

Tart pastry (click for recipe – it’ll make twice as much as you need)
About 900g of plums
80g light brown sugar
20g ground almonds
Handful slivered or flaked almonds

Directions

1.  Butter a 24 cm fluted tart tin and dust with flour.  Roll the pastry out to a thickness of about 4mm and line the tart tin with it.  Trim the edges and prick the pastry with a fork.  Leave to rest in the fridge for about 30 mins.  Pre-heat the oven to 190°C.

2.  Meanwhile, cut all the plums in half and remove the stone.  Set aside.

3.  Line the pastry case with a sheet of baking paper and spread baking beans evenly over the paper.  Blind-bake the pastry for 10 mins.

4.  Remove from the oven, remove the baking beans and baking paper, and sprinkle the base of the pastry case evenly with the ground almonds and about 20g of the sugar.  Add the plums cut side up (so the round bit is against the pastry case), as tightly packed as possible.  Sprinkle with about 40g of the sugar and bake for 15 mins.

5.  Sprinkle the slivered almonds over the top of the plums and bake a further 10-15 mins (the plums should bake a total of 25-30 mins).

6.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool fully on a wire rack.  Sprinkle with the remaining sugar just before serving.

Enjoy!

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Easy-peasy pastry (no really!)

I used to think that making pastry was a horrendously complicated undertaking.  I may have been slightly traumatised when I was younger by a shortcrust pastry-making attempt that ended in a lot of crumbly mess and not a lot of actual pastry.  That failed experience coupled with my inability to roll things out into anything resembling a circle resulted in the mistaken belief that anyone able to successfully make pastry must be blessed with some kind of innate skill.  A delusion slightly fuelled by my mum, who has always been adamant that she doesn’t have that special knack and is therefore incapable of making pastry without it all going horribly wrong.

One of my mum’s friends makes the best tartes and quiches.  She always makes her own pastry and it’s ever-so-slightly flaky and just… amazing.  So one day, I asked her to show me the secret to a wonderful tarte or quiche pastry.  Well, it turns out that it is neither difficult nor time-consuming and there is no inherent ability required.  Being able to roll things into circles, however, does come in handy (still not one of my strong points, but practice makes perfect and all that).

So with the exception of puff pastry (I draw the line at spending 10h of my life folding pastry, letting it rest, rolling it, folding it again, letting it rest again, rolling it again, etc.), I now always make my own pastry.  I feel that it makes all my tartes and quiches just that tiny bit yummier (so modest, I know).  What is fabulous about this particular pastry is that it is quick to make, there’s no waiting around for it to rise, it works for both savoury and sweet recipes, it can be baked blind if required but works just as well if it isn’t and it can be stored in the fridge for up to a week (you could probably even freeze it, though I’ve never tried it).  There is therefore NO excuse for shop-bought pastry!

I know the photos aren’t that great – apologies!  I will update them when I’ve taken better ones.

Easy-peasy tarte/quiche pastry

Makes enough for two 24-26cm tartes/quiches (depending on thickness)
Recipe from my mum’s friend

The pastry works for both savoury and sweet recipes and you can add ground spices into the pastry to give a subtle hint of additional flavour to whatever you are making.  It can be stored in the fridge for up to a week and probably be frozen too (though I haven’t actually tried it).  If you’ve stored it in the fridge, bring it out about an hour before you want to roll it out (microwave it for about 5 seconds if you forget, just to soften it up).

Ingredients

250g all-purpose flour
100g butter (slightly softened if possible)
100ml of lukewarm water (it has to be lukewarm)

Directions

1.  Butter the tarte/quiche/whatever tin(s) that you plan on lining with the pastry (even if they are non-stick).

2.  Cut the butter into little cubes, and add it to a large bowl with the flour, a pinch of salt (even if it’s for a sweet tarte) and the lukewarm water.  Knead by pressing downwards and bringing the pastry round the sides of the bowl.  Make sure that you really work the butter cubes into the flour.  (This should take about 10mins maximum – I told you it was quick!)

3.  When the dough forms a ball (if it gets too sticky, add a bit more flour), split it into two.  Take one half and shape it into a ball, then slightly flatten it onto a floured work surface and roll it out to the required diameter and thickness.

4.  Line the buttered tin with the pastry (to easily lift the pastry into the tin, fold it into quarters – it shouldn’t stick to itself), trim the edges as necessary, prick with a fork and if you have time, leave it to rest in the fridge for about 30mins (this is optional, but helps make it slightly crispier) whilst you prepare the filling .  If you’re only using half the pastry, wrap the other half in some tin foil and store it in the fridge for up to a week.

Easy-peasy!

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Filed under Recipes, Savoury Foods, Sweet Foods