Yesterday was a very tired and grouchy day in the world of Anna.
I reluctantly went to college only to find out we were making paper chains and Christmas decorations. Again. Nothing wrong with that as something to do AT HOME, but there were things I would much rather have been doing. Such as sleeping. I spent my lunch hour trying to sell cheap jewellery from Newlife foundation for volunteers week for £1. We sold one thing. It is a shame really but it was tat! Then, although we were told that we would get some actual work done in the afternoon, the majority class vote was to continue sticking tissue paper onto snowman cut-outs whilst listening to R&B Christmas music.
So, some of you may think that the last thing I wanted to do when I got home was something time consuming that usually leads to disappointment when I give it a go – making pastry – but I just had a feeling I was going to nail it and it would make me feel much better!
Now, this is shortcrust, and I’ve had a small handful of successes with shortcrust before, but a lot of mishaps too, and I’ve always found it quite difficult to get right. This time it seemed like a breeze! It was the first time I’ve ever used a food processor to mix the pastry, and obviously this saved a lot of time, but I also think that the recipe I used (from http://www.gourmantineblog.com) was a good one. She says herself that (well, at least I assume it’s a woman – I’m actually not sure!) due to poorly chosen pastry recipes, making tart cases and suchlike has been her downfall ever since she started trying to make them.
Another benefit of using a food processor is that if (like me) you tend to have warm hands, mixing the dough yourself isn’t pretty or fun. It makes a mess, basically. I will never use my hands from now on.
And a final word! This is HANDS DOWN the best thing I have ever made. In my modest opinion… No, it’s too late to be modest. But really, the pictures don’t do it justice at all. I wish I had more patience with photography. Yesterday I made a fish curry which was also pretty good! But the way I plated it up, that looked like more of a pie than this does. In any case, if you need a pie, you need this pie.
You will need a tart or pie case measuring around 18.5cm
For the Pastry:
- 200g flour
- 100g butter
- pinch of salt
- 2 eggs, beaten (kept separately)
For the Filling:
- 1 large onion, diced
- 100g gorgonzola or your favourite blue cheese
- 375g butternut squash, peeled and cubed
- handful of fresh sage leaves
- 1 egg
- 100ml double cream
- Start by making the pastry. Put the butter, flour and salt in a food processor and whiz until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs (15-30 seconds).
- Add one beaten egg and give it another whiz for about 30 seconds more, until the dough starts to stick together.
- Remove the dough from the food processor and put it onto a clean working surface. Use the palms of your hands to stick it together, but don’t knead!! Wrap the dough in cling film and it in the fridge to rest for at least 30 minutes.
- Heat the oven to 200°c. While the dough is resting, you can get on with preparing the filling. Heat a little oil in a frying pan and add the onions. Cook them over a medium heat for about 15 minutes until soft and caramelized. Meanwhile (this is multi-tasking!), add some oil to a baking tray with raised sides, then put in the butternut squash, the sage and a pinch of salt. Give it a good mix up so everything is lightly covered in oil. Put in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.
- When the pastry has rested, give it a little knead for it to stick together, but make sure you do this as little as possible. Then, cut the pastry into 2 equal halves. On a lightly floured surface, roll each half out until it is wide enough to cover the base and sides of your tart case sufficiently. Press 1 half into the bottom of your case and put it in the fridge to rest for 20 minutes.
- There isn’t as much to do this time while you’re waiting… But you can beat the egg with the cream and a pinch of salt. When the onion is cooked and the squash is tender, take them off the heat and leave to cool. You can also crumble the blue cheese now, if you want to be really organised.
- When the pastry has endured it’s second resting, prick the bottom of the tart several times with a fork. Cover it with baking parchment and fill with baking beans or rice. Don’t do as I did and use one of those cake tin liners with flaps round the side… especially if you’re using rice. The rice will get through the flaps and you will spend a moment picking of the bits of rice that have found themselves a cosy spot in your pastry. Obvious? Yeah probably. What you should do is bake the tart like this for 15 minutes, then remove the baking paper and rice/beans, and continue cooking for 5 minutes. Baking blind is important as it prevents the dough from rising 🙂
- Now you can assemble your tart! Sprinkle on the onion and butternut squash (not the sage – put the sage to one side). Crumble (or sprinkle previously crumbled) blue cheese over the top, then pour over the egg-cream mixture.
- Brush the rim of the case with the remaining beaten egg, then lift the remaining shortcrust pastry on to it, pressing the edges to seal thoroughly. Trim off any excess, make 3-4 small slits in the centre and brush with egg. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until crisp, golden and starting to bubble.
- Serve with peas mixed with the crispy sage left in the baking tray.
It’s a shame this isn’t national pie week… I’ve already made 2 and I’ve committed myself to making mince pies on the weekend 😀