Sunday, March 9, 2008

It's TART-tastic!

Today my What's Cookin Chicago group and I spent the afternoon at Delightful Pastries bakery where my friend, Chef Dobra, is the head pastry chef/owner. We learned quite a bit about tarts, from making the perfect dough, sweet & savory fillings and making them ourselves. It was a great opportunity to play in a bakery kitchen! Each of us made our own sweet and savory tarts (2 of each) under the instruction of Chef Dobra. Here are pics of the event, along with the tart & filling recipes shared with us by Chef Dobra.

Ricotta & Creme Fraiche Savory Tart Base Mixture
1/4 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup creme fraiche
1/2 salt & pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3 eggs
choice of quiche fillings*

-- Combine the above ingredients except for the fillings.
* Note: vegetable fillings should be cooked & cooled prior to adding to the quiche mixture.

Basic Quiche Base Mixture
1 quart heavy cream
8 eggs
1 teaspoon salt & pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
choice of quiche fillings*

-- Combine the above ingredients except for the fillings.
* Note: vegetable fillings should be cooked & cooled prior to adding to the quiche mixture.

Flaky Short-Crust Pastry
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, chilled & cut into small pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons ice water

-- Combine flour, butter and salt in food processor or mixing bowll. Process for 10-12 seconds, or mash with your fingertips until the mixture has a dry & crumbly resembling coarse cornmeal.
-- Add the water to the mixture and pulse 12-14 times or work together with your fingertips until the dough begins to hold together into a mass, but before it turns into a ball. (The dough can become tough if overprocessed.)
-- If the dough is too dry or dense, add 1-2 tablespoons of water and pulse 2-3 times, or work with your fingertips.

Sugar Tart Crust
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temp
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 cup cake flour
all-purpose flour for dusting

-- In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter & sugar for about 2 minutes.
-- Add the egg yolk. Continue mixing on med-hi speed for 1-2 min, until pale yellow in color and smooth. Scrape down sides of bowl.
-- Add cake flour; mix on low speed just until blended - don't over mix! Transfer to a sheet of plastic wrap and gently pat into a ball. Wrap well and chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.
-- Lightly butter your tart pan or rings.
-- Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator. Let dough sit on counter for 20 min until pliable yet cool to touch.
-- On lightly floured surface gently knead dough a few times. Pat into ball and flatten into a 5 inch round disk. With a floured rolling pin, begin rolling from the center out, lifting & turning every 90 degrees until about 1/8 inch thick. Dust board and pin with flour as needed.
-- Gently lift & roll the dough onto the rolling pin. Place dough in the buttered tart pan or cut rounds to fit into mini tarts.
-- Work dough into the tart pan/ring and up sides. Allow prepared tart pan/rings to chill in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes. When chilled, trim tops of tart pan/rings of excess dough.
-- Dock bottom of dough with tines of a fork to prevent the dough from puffing in the oven.

Tip- remove tart pan bottoms and bake without them. This produces a wonderfully golden bottom crust and easy removal from the tart pan/ring.

Classic French Pastry Cream
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste
3 large egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar, halved
2 tablespoons cornstarch

-- Combine 1/8 cup sugar, milk and vanilla. Bring it to a boil in a saucepan.
-- In a mixing bowl, combine remaining 1/8 cup sugar, egg yolks and cornstarch. Mix with the paddle attachment until smooth.
-- When milk mixture has come to a boil, remove from heat and slowly add it to the mixing bowl with the egg yolk mixture.
-- Mix on high until fully combined. Spread cream onto a large baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator until cooled.Here are pics from the class: