Fancy a little tart?
Picnic season is upon this household and I have been making mini tarts to pack away into the picnic hamper. Here is a fantastic cheese tart recipe from my Grandmother’s repertoire complete with a complimenting pastry. There is a perfect balance of sweet and salty in every bite. When you’ve got the hand of one batch you can start to experiment with the different fillings.
For the pastry:
225g plain flour
115g soft salted butter
1 small egg
3 tsp. sugar
A dash of cold water
For the filling:
200g Gruyere grated
1 cup milk
2 eggs beaten
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. tomato purée
(Quantities make about a dozen)
Start by making the pastry.
Cream the butter to a soft paste and add the sugar, salt and eggs. Mix until smooth. Combine the flour a bit at a time and using a fork, bring the mixture together to make a firm dough. Don’t over mix it. Add a sprinkle of cold water if the dough is too dry and not coming together.
If you have time, let the pastry rest for an hour. This allows for more elasticity when it comes to manipulating the dough. When you are ready to bake, roll the pastry out to no more than half a centimetre thick. Use the pastry to line your chosen baking tins – I used some different shapes and sizes for variety – a tart tray (or rather, a large Yorkshire pudding tray) and a muffin tin. You can use anything but just remember the idea is to keep them small and picnic-sized.
Tip: If you cut a square of baking parchment and slip this into the moulds first then line the pastry over it, you will find it easier to pull them out by lifting the paper at the corners. This is especially helpful if you want to serve them warm and they feel a little too delicate to just tip over and knock out. This is also a good idea if you are using deeper containers like a muffin tin instead of a tart or flan dish.
Now for the filling.
Warm the milk in a pan. Combine the paprika and tomato pureé and whisk in the two eggs. The milk should not be so hot as to make the eggs curdle, so allow the liquid to cool a little if necessary.
Fill the centre of each tart with grated cheese and top it up with a little of the hot milk mixture. The cheese will collapse into the hot milk, so finish with more cheese if you have any left over.
Bake in a moderately hot oven – about 180° for around fifteen minutes or until the custard has just set and you can see the filling wobble a little. The residual heat in the tart will finish the cooking to a perfect consistency.
Serve warm or allow them to cool for serving later. They can be stored in an airtight container and will keep for a couple of days if refrigerated.
You can have a straightforward Gruyere cheese filling, or mix it up by adding diced onion and tomato. My other tried and tested suggestions are aubergine and pepper, mushroom and asparagus or spinach and artichoke hearts. Leftover roast chicken, crispy bacon or even salmon are nice too. The choice is entirely yours.
Bon Appetit! ~