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The Art of the Tart: Savory and Sweetby Tamasin Day Lewis
Synopses & Reviews
Just as the golden rule for house buying is location, location, location, so for tart dough it is cold, cold, cold. Your butter should be chilled, your hands cold, and if you have a cold marble slab to roll it out on, so much the better. I have even grated butter straight from the freezer when there has been none to be found in the refrigerator. Warmth and overworking are the enemy to the good, buttery-crisp pastry crust. I make my dough in a food processor, and stop the button the moment the flour and butter have cohered into a ball, otherwise the results will be a cross between Play Doh and underpants elastic. Beware, but don't be frightened. Too wet or too dry, it can, like curdled mayonnaise, be rescued.
The simplest dough of all. I use I cup plain white (preferably organic) or whole
wheat flour to 4 tablespoons unsalted butter for my 9-inch tart pan, and
1 1/2 cups flour to 6 tablespoons butter for a 12 -inch pan. Rolled out thinly, thesequantities fit perfectly. I would also use the smaller quantity for an 8-inch pan, in which case there will be a bit left over.
I sift the flour and a pinch of sea salt into the food processor, then cut the cold butter into small pieces on top of it. I process it for about 20—30 seconds, then add ice-cold water through the top, a tablespoon at a time-about 2—2 1/2, should do it—with the machine running. If the paste is still in crumby little bits after a minute or two, add a tablespoon more of water, but remember, the more water you use, the more the crust will shrink if you bake it blind. One solution is to use a bit of cream or egg yolk instead of water. The moment it has cohered into a ball, stop, remove it, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes.
If you are making dough by hand, sift the flour into a large bowl with the salt, add the chopped butter, and work as briskly as you can to rub the fat into the flour with the tips of your fingers only, rather like running grains of hot sand through your fingers. Add the water bit by bit as above; wrap, and chill the dough.
Then scatter a bit of flour on your marble top, roll your rolling pin in it, dust the palms of your hands, and start rolling. Always roll away from yourself, turning the dough as you go, and keep the rolling pin and the marble floured to prevent sticking. Once it is rolled out, slip the rolling pin under the top third of the dough, and pick it up, judging where to lie it in the greased pan. Never stretch it-it will shrink back. Try to leave at least 30 minutes for the unbaked tart shell to commune with the inside of your refrigerator. Or put it in the night before you need it.
If you are baking your tart shell blind, you will need to preheat the oven to
375-400'F. Some recipes also tell you to put a baking sheet in the oven to heat up. This can be invaluable if you are using a porcelain or other non-metal tart dish, as the hot baking sheet gives it an initial burst of heat to crisp up the bottom of the tart shell. I know that some cooks will be shocked that I could even think of using anything other than metal, but, as well as the aesthetic advantage when it comes to serving, china dishes are guaranteed never to discolor the crust in the way that some metal ones do. Secondly, if you are using a tart pan with a removable bottom (my preference, as they are by far the easiest to invert), placing the tart pan on a baking sheet makes it easier to slide in and out of the oven.
Tear off a piece of waxed paper a little larger than the tart pan and place it over the shell. Cover the paper with a layer of dried beans; the idea is to prevent the shell from rising up in the oven. When the crust is nearly cooked (the timing depends on the rest of the recipe), remove the paper and beans, and prick the bottom of the shell to let out trapped air that would otherwise bubble up. Return the tart to the oven for about 5- 10 minutes to dry the tart shell bottom.
Brushing the partly baked tart shell with a light coating of beaten egg or egg white ensures a crisp finished tart.
Tarts are the perfect self-contained treat, a delectable indulgence. In this special collection, Tamasin Day-Lewis provides classic recipes and new twists for an assortment of savory and sweet tarts. She explores the rituals of their preparation, from rolling to primping and patching to whisking, all of which make tarts the most satisfying of foods to make and to eat.
The home chef is taught to prepare a variety of crusts from easy-to-follow directions. The most difficult step is trying to figure out which of the mouth-watering fillings to use. Included is everything from Sweet Corn and Spring Onion Tart to Rhubard Meringue Pie.
Beautifully designed, featuring more than fifty full-color photographs, and sumptuously filled, The Art of the Tart is sure to be the perfect addition to any cookbook collection.
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