A Tale of Two Tarts

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”
Charles Dickens

LIES – when these two tarts are involved it’s just the best of times.

In my world there is nothing more satisfying than making a tart and even better if I make it the night before I plan to eat it.

This has two advantages:

  1. You are being extra organised and amazing. Move over Delia!
  2. You can take a picture of it at that perfect moment, without stress.

That perfect moment in my flat is just before the sun sets. Being north facing and behind a massive tree, we can be pretty dark but for about 25 minutes when the clouds allow – it’s stunning.

The light floods in, the shadows from the leaves dance on the walls and simply – I love it. I’ve just searched my whole computer for pictures but it would seem that I enjoy the moment too much and don’t actually document it, so you’ll have to take my word for how stunning it can be!

The original tart is from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. Her recipe was for a Wild Mushroom Tart – I’ve adapted it as I couldn’t really be bothered with buying Wild Mushrooms and my local supermarket doesn’t stock the cheese it required.

The tart crust is by far the best I have ever made, I can’t fault it. It turned out crisp and light but not too delicate. The addition of polenta gives it extra texture but most importantly this tart crust is amazing because there were no leaks, it didn’t stick to the pan and there was no breaking or crumbling.

The second tart was born because I ordered the wrong tomatoes and had a bit of a glut of the things. I turned to my old faithful Pinterest to get inspiration and decided to stick with the crust from Smitten Kitchen, caramelise some shallots (That I had hanging about) and use Camembert and tomato in the filling. I used the Mushroom filling as measure guidelines, replacing the Mascarpone and milk with crème fraîche and adding an extra egg. I think I could’ve possibly gotten away with using more tomatoes but I was fearful of it being too soggy but was happy with the result.

Mushroom Tart Again

Tart Crust
adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
yields 1 x 9.5 inch / 25 cm round tart

140g / 4.9oz plain flour
30g / 1oz polenta
¼ tsp salt
85g / 3oz unsalted butter – chilled, diced (plus more for greasing)
1 large egg

In a large bowl, combine the flour, polenta and salt. Add the butter and rub into the flour with your fingertips – until it looks like fine breadcrumbs. Add the egg and mix with a fork until a dough forms. Lightly knead the dough if needed, to help it come together.

You could use a food processor – I haven’t but I suppose you just whizz it all together like MAGIC!

Roll out the dough between two pieces of clingfilm – once rolled to the correct size, peel back the top clingfilm, slide your hand under the dough (and clingfilm) and invert it into a loose bottomed tart pan. Once happy with the position, remove the other layer of clingfilm and gently tease the dough into all the edges of the pan.

Remove the excess dough by running a rolling pin over the top of the tart case.

Pop the tart base in the freezer for 20-30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 190°c / 375°f / gas mark 5

Lightly butter a piece of tin foil, big enough to fit in your tart. Remove the tart from the freezer and butter side down press the tin foil into the crust. Deb (Smitten Kitchen) says you don’t need baking beans – I didn’t use them the first time and I got a little bit of a bubbly bottom. So I used them the 2nd time. I’m not convinced they helped but they made me feel good!

Bake the crust for 10 minutes, then remove the foil (and beans if using) and bake for a further 5 – 8 minutes or until the crust is firm and lightly golden.

Set the crust on a cooling rack – until needed.

Mushroom Tart

Mushroom Tart
adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

1 tbsp olive oil
14g / ½oz unsalted butter
1 onion – thinly sliced
1 garlic clove – finely grated or chopped
680g / 1.5lbs mushrooms – thinly sliced (I used a mixture of white & chestnut)
1tsp of dried thyme
1 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper
60g / 2.1oz Mascarpone cheese – at room temp
60ml milk
2 large eggs
55g / 1.9oz grated Gruyère cheese
25g / 0.8oz grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 180°c / 350°f / gas mark 4

Add the oil and butter to a large frying pan on a medium heat, add the onion and fry for about 2-3 minutes, until slightly softened. Then add the garlic and fry for a minute more. Increase the heat to medium-high and add the mushrooms and thyme.

But OH NO! All the mushrooms don’t fit in the pan, never fear – just keep adding more as the mushrooms reduce and give you more room, keep turning them over so you get them evenly cooked.

Fry the mushrooms until all the mushroomy water has evaporated – season to taste and transfer to a plate to cool.

Plop the Mascarpone into a medium bowl and slowly drizzle in the milk while whisking – to smoothly combine the two. Whisk in the eggs and then the grated cheeses and finally add the cooled mushrooms.

Pour the mixture into the tart crust and bake for 35-40 minutes, until it’s golden and puffed up – if you insert a knife into it no liquid should escape.

Camembert, Tomato & Shallot Tart

Camembert, Tomato & Shallot Tart
Sorry this one is a little vague… (i.e I forgot to weigh stuff)

a handful of shallots – peeled & thinly sliced
2 tsp olive oil & a little knob of butter
1½ tsp caster sugar
½ tsp salt
2 tsp (ish) cider vinegar
3 large eggs
120g / 4.2oz crème fraîche
(I used half fat out of habit but think it would be better with the naughty stuff)
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp dried thyme
Seasoning
2 handfuls of medium vine tomatoes – thinly sliced
125g / 4.4oz Camembert – sliced and broken into smaller chunks.

Preheat oven to 180°c / 350°f / gas mark 4

Add the oil and butter to a large frying pan on a medium/high heat – once the butter is melted add the sliced shallots. Fry for about 5 minutes, then add the sugar and salt and turn the heat down to medium low. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the vinegar and simmer until the mixture has reduced – about 1 to 3 minutes – season to taste and set to one side.

In a jug or bowl whisk together the eggs, crème fraîche, Dijon & thyme – season to your own tastes.

You can assemble your tart however you wish – I went with all the shallots at the bottom, then a layer of tomato, a layer of Camembert, then another layer of tomato and finish with some Camembert. In hindsight I might spread the shallots about a bit more, and topped with tomato instead of the Camembert so it looks a bit more tomatoey.

Then pour the egg mixture over evenly.

Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes – turning halfway through, until puffed and golden and beautiful. I found that the Camembert kinda leaked it’s own special liquid, so inserting a knife into it didn’t really work, I just had to trust my instincts that it was cooked and it was.

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5 responses to “A Tale of Two Tarts

  1. Your photos are beautiful Ros, I am in awe of you constantly. The Camembert one looks right up my street. Anything with gorgeous cheese is OK with me.

  2. Pingback: June Summary | Roswensian·

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