Tuesday 2 February 2016

Onion, Shallot and Chive Tart

I wasn't happy with the pastry for the Pecan Pie I did last week, so I've spent some time researching shortcrust pastry techniques. There is an excellent section at the front of Paul Hollywoods book "Pies and Puds", and I also came across this excellent blog post, which covers a lot of the theory and techniques behind shortcrust. I think for savoury pastries I'll be using a 50/50 mix of butter and lard, to try and improve the texture.

The end result is that I now really want to get a food processor, to help with the rubbing-in step, however we're doing a "No-Buy February", and I think that probably counts as buying something, so for now I'll work on my manual technique, and try to think my hands cold.

For the actual bake, I picked a recipe out of the "Pies and Puds" book, specifically an Onion, Shallot and Chive Tart...it's basically a quiche without the cheese. My main goal was to do a good pastry tart case, and I did a few things differently;
  • I didn't trim the pastry until I had finished baking the filling
  • I used clingfilm instead of baking parchment during the blind-baking stage
  • I was very stingy with the water (possibly too stingy, it was very crumbly)

Using clingfilm was a bit of a nervous time... I first saw it done by James Martin in a TV program, and he said it was "oven-proof clingfilm". This, it turns out, doesn't exist (if you Google it you'll find millions of forum posts about other people not being able to find it), however it seems that any clingfilm that is OK for a microwave will probably do (and Waitrose Essential Clingfilm meets that requirement!). I'm really pleased with the results, and going forward I'll be using clingfilm for blind baking all the time, you do get a much sharper shape. You'll also see I use a mix of baking balls and dry rice for my weights, so I don't get any gaps.

Onion, Shallot and Chive Tart

Pastry Ingredients

  • 225g plain flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 60g unsalted butter (diced)
  • 60g lard (diced)
  • 2-3tbsp chilled water

1) Put the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl

2) Add in the butter and lard

3) Rub in the fats using your fingertips until you have just small chunks that look like breadcrumbs

4) Add in a small amount of the water, and mix. Add in a little more at a time until the dough just starts to come together

5) Form a ball of the dough, wrap in clingfilm and place in the fridge

Onion Filling Ingredients

  • 2 large onions (or 3 meidum sized ones)
  • 8-10 banana shallots
  • 25g unsalted butter
  • 1tbsp sunflower oil

6) Finely chop the onions and shallots

7) Put the butter and sunflower oil in a large saucepan on a medium heat

8) Add the onions and shallots to the oil...cook for 20-30 minutes, while stirring occasionally

9) The onions are done when they start to turn a golden colour...turn out onto a plate and allow to cool

10) Turn the oven on, and heat to 190-200'C

11) Take the dough out of the fridge, and roll out to ~3mm thickness, and big enough to line a 23cm tart tin (I used batons again, and I have markings on a silicone mat to get to the right size)

12) Line the tart tin with the pastry, so you have a little excess hanging over the edges.

13) Prick the bottom with a fork all over, not quite going all the way through

14) Place a layer of clingfilm over the pastry, and fill with baking balls/dry rice

15) Bake for 13-14 minutes

16) remove from the oven, and remove the clingfilm/baking balls.

17) Return to the oven for another 5-6 minutes (until the base of the pastry is dry)

Egg Mixture Ingredients

  • 4 whole eggs
  • 2 egg Yolks
  • 1tbsp chopped chives (I used some dried ones)
  • 1½tbsp wholegrain mustard
  • 200ml double cream

18) Put the eggs and egg yolks in a bowl and beat

19) Once the pastry has finished blind baking, remove it from the oven

20) using a pastry brush, wash the inside of the pastry with some of the egg (this seals the pastry, stopping soggy bottoms).

21) (optional) You can return the pastry to the oven for a minute of two to cook the egg, which gives a nice colour. I had a small crack in my pastry, so I used the egg wash to seal it and then baked it quickly to produce a waterproof fix

22) Reduce the oven temperature to 175-180'C

23) Add the cream, mustard and chives to the egg mix and beat well.

24) Take the cooled onions, and spread evenly across the pastry

24) Pour on the egg mixture. I filled the case about 2/3rds of the way up, and then completed filling it in the oven (to avoid spills)

25) Bake for about 30 minutes, until the centre is set

26) Remove to a wire tray, using a sharp knife, carefully trim the excess pastry

27) Allow to cool