Mastering the (t)art – A Pastry Lesson

Flans and tarts can be a really impressive savoury or sweet dish to serve a group. They are easy to prepare and can be made ahead of time, but a lot of people are put off the fact that they have to make their own pastry. So, this little post is dedicated to pastry.

Typically, most flan and tart recipes will call for a 22-24cm loose bottomed flan tin. This pastry recipe is sufficient for a tin of this size.

Ingredients: 

  • One and a half cups of plain flour. I use plain for sweet and wholemeal for savoury
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 100 grams of cold butter
  • 1/4 cup of cold water

Put the flour, salt and baking powder into a large bowl. Chop the butter into cubes and rub through the the flour with your fingers until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add a little water and bring the dough together into a ball. Just add a little water at a time, you don’t want it to get sloppy. On your worktop, sprinkle a little flour and knead the dough lightly until smooth. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and rest in the fridge for 15 – 20 mins. If you want to make pastry ahead of time, it will happy sit in the fridge but it needs to be well wrapped.

When you need to use it, roll the pastry out again on your floured worktop. Put a little flour on your rolling pin to stop the pastry sticking. When the pastry is rolled out to about 1/4 cm thick and roll the pastry around the rolling pin and lay gently over the tin, there should be plenty of overhang so that when you gently press the pastry into the corners of the tin you can trim the pastry off level with the rim.

To avoid your tart having a soggy base, it is really important to bake the pastry before you put any filling in. This is called baking blind. When you have the pastry neatly trimmed and pressed into the tin, chill it for 30 minutes in the fridge. Then prick the base with a fork, line the base with baking paper or tin foil and fill with pastry weights. If you don’t have pastry weights, you can use dried chickpeas, dried beans or rice (don’t throw these out after, keep them in a jar to use as weights again). The weight stops the pastry from rising.

Bake for 10 minutes at 200 degrees, then remove the weights and lining. Return the tin to the oven and cook for a further 3 – 5 minutes until just lightly golden.

The pastry case can be made the day ahead, and stored in an airtight container, but it is best used on the day of baking. Most tarts will keep in the fridge for two – three days.

Alternative Short Sweet Pastry Recipe 

If you are making a sweet tart, you might light to try this short sweet pastry recipe which is made in the food processor.

Ingredients: 

  • One and a half cups of plain four
  • 1/4 cup icing sugar
  • 100 grams of cold butter
  • 1 egg  yolk
  • 1 tablespoon cold water
  • zest of one lemon, finely grated

Mix the flour, icing sugar and butter in a food processor until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. In another bowl, mix the egg yolk, water and lemon zest. Slowly pour the egg mix into the flour mix (while mixing) until the pastry comes together into a ball. You can press this pastry directly into the tin until it is easily disbursed and trimmed along the rim. Chill for 30 minutes in the fridge and then bake blind as per the main recipe above.

 

 

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