This is more of recipe for the best pastry ever, rather than for the actual tarts. I always tend to use the same type of filling for my tarts- well, at least the basic premise is the same, and I adjust fillings and flavours according to what I have to hand. I’m posting the recipe for the pastry here, and then have followed it with the filling idea: it is a fool proof concept, and I urge you to try your hand at it, and experiment with different combinations. As long as you remember the egg yolk, microplaned parmesan and creme fraiche, your filling should hold well and bake even better.
I made these for my dear friend Helen’s birthday on Saturday- Helen and I look rather similar, and are often mistaken for each other in town, or in fact wherever we go. We’ve only known each other for about four years, and were introduced by a mutual friend, who kept saying, “You’d get on SO well together”. And of course, we do. It helps that we both are English teachers, share a love of rummaging in thrift shops, and have the same sense of humour, among other things. We never co-ordinate our outfits, but often we’ll land up dressing in a similar fashion too: specs on, specs off, monochrome or dresses; somehow our attire and appearance is a source of total amusement for everyone, but, as we laugh at ourselves rather frequently anyway, we are more than happy to make people smile and provide entertainment. Meeting Helen’s parents was interesting- I think I freaked her family out somewhat! I love how there is a twin to be found out there in the world- for all of us, I’m sure. I feel very lucky to have found mine so early on in life.
Here’s that gorgeous pastry recipe, followed by my filling suggestion.
Gluten Free Shortcrust Pastry
Makes 24 mini tarts (pictured) or 12 larger ones
200g plain gluten free flour
1 1/2 tsp table salt
110g cold salted butter, cubed
1 egg yolk
Cold water to bring the mix together.
Cornflour to roll it out with (this is essential)
Place the flour, salt and butter into a large bowl. Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. this is a crucial part: it will take a while, but you must, must do it. There mustn’t be any butter lumps remaining. Once you’ve done this, add the egg yolk, and a few splashes of water, mixing thoroughly as you go. I use my hands, of course I do: they’re the best tools for the job. Keep adding water until you have a soft, pliable ball of dough- it mustn’t be crumbly at all. You may need to add more water than you initially think to the mix.
Dust your work surface with cornflour and roll the dough out: unlike gluten based doughs, this one doesn’t need to rest in the fridge before use. I use scone and biscuit cutters, and I cut little rounds of pastry. I carefully line my tins with the discs, ensuring that if the bottom of the little tarts look to thin, I patch the bottoms up with extra little bits of pastry: you don’t want the filling to leak out, so ensure the tins are well padded with pastry.
Pop a little circle of baking parchment in each pastry tin, and top with baking beads (like in the picture).
Bake at 180 degrees celsius for 6-8 minutes. Remove from the oven, remove the parchment and beads. Spoon your filling into each receptacle, top with grated cheese, and bake for a further 10 minutes or until golden brown on top.
I base every filling for these little tarts on the same sort of idea: I saute shallots or onions and garlic in a little butter and olive oil for 7 minutes or so. I then add chopped chorizo, or prosciutto, add finely chopped mushrooms, or peas to the pan, add microplaned parmesan, an egg yolk, a few tablespoons of creme fraiche, salt and black pepper and chopped herbs (basil and parsley, usually). I remove the mix from the heat and spoon it carefully into the cases, topping with extra cheese (cheddar, little lumps of goat’s cheese, or parmesan). I am sure the idea would work were you to use the pastry idea to make a large tart for lunch, or some other occasion. The little tarts keep very well, and can be heated up just before serving.