Fresh Herb Tart

Taken from Gail's Artisan Bakery Cookbook, this fresh herb tart makes for a gorgeous vegetarian recipe idea. Featuring mature Cheddar cheese and a herb medley.

Gail's Artisan Bakery Cookbook
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Introduction

Like a garden baked into a tart. Imagine the soft, delicate textures, flavours and colours of an English summer herb garden, suspended in a pale, creamy custard and held in a crisp pastry case. This exceptionally beautiful tart works with all kinds of herbs (but avoid strong, dominant flavours such as coriander and rosemary). Don't chop the herbs too finely, and don't over-mix or let them break up too much. This recipe makes enough pastry for two. The other half can be kept in the fridge for three days, or frozen for a week and defrosted overnight in the fridge.

Ingredients

For the pastry:
120g butter, at room temperature
60g cornflour
1 egg yolk
2 tbsp water
½ tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp caster sugar
130g plain flour
For the filling:
25g butter
1 onion, thinly sliced
4 spring onions, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely sliced
3 eggs
100ml crème fraîche, plus extra to serve (optional)
120ml double cream
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
¼ tsp coriander seeds, lighted toasted and ground to a powder
120g mature Cheddar, grated
2 sprigs of parsley, leaves only, roughly chopped
4 sprigs each of tarragon, thyme, oregano, marjoram, and chervil, leaves only, roughly chopped
2 tbsp snipped chives

Essential kit

You will need a 24cm tart tin.

Instructions

First, make the pastry. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the beater attachment, beat the butter until smooth and soft. Stop the machine, scrape it down, and add the cornflour, egg yolk, water, salt and sugar. Mix again on low speed until a soft paste forms. Stop, scrape and add the flour, then mix slowly until you have a soft dough. Flatten out into a thick disc and wrap in cling film. Chill for at least 2 hours, or overnight.

Cut the pastry in half and roll one half out on a lightly floured surface to 3mm thick disc. Use it to line a 24cm tart tin and bake blind (p.31). Set the baked case aside to cool completely. Reduce the oven temperature to 180°C/gas mark 4.

To make the filling, melt the butter in a frying pan and cook the onion, spring onions and garlic over a medium heat until very soft – about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly.

Whisk together the eggs, crème fraîche, double cream, salt, pepper and ground coriander. Add the cooled onion mixture to this custard and mix well. Stir in all the herbs, coating them well, then mix in the grated cheese.

Pour the herb custard into the tart case and bake for 10 minutes, or until very slightly coloured. Reduce the temperature to 170°C/gas mark 3 and bake for a further 20–25 minutes. Try to keep this tart beautifully light in colour, so the colours of all the herbs shine through the pale custard. Remove from the oven as soon as it’s completely set. Serve while still warm, perhaps with an extra dollop of crème fraîche.

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