There are many dishes which I consider to be "comforting" such as pasta, bread, chocolate and pastry. There are also many dishes which I consider to be "refreshing" such as salad, smoothies, exotic fruit and pastry. Yes, pastry features on both my comforting and refreshing list. Why, because nothing is more comforting than the combination of butter and flour to make a crisp pastry and nothing is more refreshing than a crisp pastry with a light filling. I've made so many quiches, tarts and pies, far too many to count and this love affair with the tart, as previously shared on the blog, stemmed from a quiche being one of the first dishes I made as a child.
This Leek and Gruyere tart is by far the best tart I've made. Why? Well, previously I made pastry using margarine but decided it's time to upgrade to non salted butter, this combined with the method of making the pastry, made the pastry easy to handle, mould and roll out. I also adored the filling, using primarily the white part of the leek (although I could not resist slicing a few of the green parts), which quickly sweetened upon frying. The starring show of this tart was the Swiss Gruyere cheese, creamy, slightly sweet and salty and one the more luxurious cheeses to bake with, made this dish moreish, addictive and luscious. I would highly recommend making this dish, perfect for the Spring months served with homemade sweet potato wedges and a leafy salad. A tart that you and your family will truly enjoy.
Here is my Leek and Gruyere tart:
|Leek and Gruyere Tart.|
|Leek and Gruyere Tart.|
|Leek and Gruyere Tart.|
|Perfect pastry making.|
|Pastry rolled out.|
|Pastry in tart.|
Recipe for Leek and Gruyere Tart.
1 quantity rich shortcrust pastry
Makes enough to line a 24cm flan ring tin
250g plain flour
pinch of salt
140g chilled butter
2 egg yolks
3-4 tbsp chilled water
Method for the pastry
1) Sift the flour and salt into a medium bowl.
2) Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the flour. Using 2 cutlery knives and working in a scissor action, cut the butter into the flour, keeping the 2 knives in contact. Using knives rather than fingers help to keep the butter and flour cool.
3) Once the butter has been broken down to a small pea-sized pieces, use your fingertips to gently rub the little pieces of flour and butter together.
4) Give the bowl an occasional shake to lift larger lumps of butter to the surface. The mixture should become a uniform fine, pale crumb with now visible lumps of butter. If the mixture begins to turn yellow, the butter is softening too quickly and you need to put the bowl in the fridge for 5-10 minutes to chill the butter.
5) Mix the egg yolks and water together in a small bowl with a fork until evenly combined. Add 2-2 1/2 tbsp of the yolk mixture to the crumb and, using a cutlery knife, distribute the liquid as quickly as possible (this will create flakes of pastry)
6) Pull some of the flakes to the side and feel them; if they very dry, add a little more of the liquid to any dry areas of crumb and use the knife again. Don't be tempted to add too much liquid as it can make the pastry tough.
7) Use the flat of the knife to bring a few flakes and dry crumb together, to create larger lumps. Continue like this until there are no dry crumbs in the bottom bowl.
8) Pull the pastry together with your hands, shaping it into a flat disc, about 10cm in diameter and 1.5cm thick. Do this as quickly as possible, without overworking the pastry.
9) Wrap the pastry in cling film and chill for 20-30 minutes before rolling out. This will relax it and prevent to much shrinkage, as well as firm up the batter.
For the Tart filling
2 small leeks, white part only
100g Gruyere cheese
250ml double cream
salt and pepper
1) Roll out the chilled pastry on a lightly floured surface to a 3mm thickness and use to line a 24cm loose-based flan set on a baking sheet. Cover with cling film and chill in the fridge until firm to touch.
2) Meanwhile, slice the leeks length ways in half with the root still intact, then thinly slice into half-rings and discard the root end. Wash well in cold water to remove any grit, then drain well.
3) Melt the butter in a small saucepan, add the leeks, cover with a damp cartouche and lid and sweat over a low heat until soft and slightly translucent. Drain the leeks or remove the lid and cartouche and allow the liquid to evaporate.
4) Blind bake the pastry for 15-20 minutes, then remove the cartouch and beans and bake for a further 5 minutes, or until the pastry looks dry and feels sandy to the touch. Remove from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 150C/Gas mark 2.
5) Put the eggs and cream into a small bowl and mix with a fork. Pass this mixture through a sieve into a clean medium bowl. Grate the cheese.
6) Add the sweated leeks and 85g of the grated cheese to the egg and cream mixture. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
7) Using a slotted spoon spoon the leeks and cheese into the pastry; they should half-fill the case. Pour the egg and cream mixture over the filling, making sure the case is full as possible. Sprinkle over the remaining cheese.
8) Carefully transfer to a shelf in the lower third of the oven and bake the tart for 40-50 minutes until the custard is pale yellow colour and just a little soft in the centre.
9) Allow to cool slightly on the baking wheel, then removed the side of the tin, if using, and slide the tart onto a wire rack, or lift the flan ring after transferring.
Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.