Thursday, March 24, 2011

Pesto explosion

A pesto quiche ... but where's the egg?

Well, what started off as a pesto quiche slowly became a pesto tart. I was overzealous and made too much pesto. I just kept adding more basil, more cheese and, instead of pine nuts I added some walnuts and macadamia nuts. I kept adding and adding until I ended up with a cupful of joyfully green pesto that was a little cheesy and a lot nutty. It was too good to keep any for a rainy day so I decided right then and there to fill the crust with pesto (and cheese cause you just cannot do without cheese), leaving very little space for the egg custard.

It worked out really well because, well, you can't go wrong with pesto. I think I may have used pesto in a quiche in a previous post but it doesn't matter because the star of this here quiche/tart isn't the pesto. It's the crust.

Forget about shortcrust, baby. Here's a flaky crust that will make you quiver with enjoyment at every bite. That's right. QUIVER. It's flaky and it's so buttery it just melts in your mouth. Thank you, Dan Lepard.

See the lovely bronze crust on top and the rich, flaky base? A slice of this baby is enough to satisfy. And enough to fill you up for the night. 

Let's have another look...

Ok.... the picture is a little blur but I'd just nibbled on a piece and I was QUIVERING ...!

Ok enough with the pictures. Let's get down to the crust. Lepard was inspired by a quiche he ate at the Patisserie Miremont in France. The pastry is a rough puff pastry; which takes about half the time and effort needed to make puff pastry but without having to sacrifice too much on the richness, the flakiness or the crispness.  

Here's what you need for the pastry:
150gms plain flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cream of tartar (optional)
150g butter, cold and cut into 1cm cubes
1 egg yolk
75 ml cold milk

Sift the flour, salt and cream of tartar into a bowl. Add the butter and gently coat it with the flour. Beat the yolk and the milk together and add the liquid to the dough. Mix to form a ball, but DON'T knead as you need to keep the butter firm.

Lightly flour your work surface and quickly but gently roll the dough into a round, about 30 cm in diameter. Fold in the two sides (equal portions) and roll again to a 10x30 cm rectangle. Fold into thirds (so you get a nice 10x10 square), wrap it in plastic and chill for 20 mins. 

Repeat the process twice.  

Lightly grease a quiche/tart dish. Roll the chilled pastry thin, careful not to tear it, and gently transfer it into the dish, pressing it carefully into the edges. Place a sheet of baking paper on the dough and fill it with beads/pastry weights. Blind bake in a preheated oven (180C) for 40 mins. If your oven is too hot like mine, bake for 35 mins and cover the edges with foil for half that time. 

Once the shell is baked, it will be bubbling a little (all that yummy butter), fill it with the filling of your choice. 

Enjoyment begins as soon as the crust starts to bake and the delicious smell of  baking butter escapes the oven.
Thank you, Dan Lepard. 

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