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Queen of tarts

Roll out the tastiest pastry, add a rainbow selection of juicy heirloom tomatoes and bow to a pie that reigns supreme

 

Text Susan Jung / Photography Jonathan Wong / Styling Nellie Ming Lee

 

This tart was inspired by the gorgeous, colourful, flavourful heirloom tomatoes that are now in season. Most of them are imported and therefore quite expensive – some costing as much as HK$85 each. If you want to make a tart that’s more economical, substitute the small oval tomatoes that are grown locally; buy a colourful selection – they come in yellow, orange and red – cut them in half and arrange them in a double layer (because they shrink when cooked) over the gruyere and roasted garlic cream.

 

Heirloom tomato tart with gruyere crust and gruyere and roasted garlic cream
For the crust, I adapted the flaky cheddar cheese crust recipe in The Pie and Pastry Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum. I baked this tart in a large ceramic pan (sometimes called a quiche pan). If you use a metal pan, you’ll need to adjust some of the baking temperatures. Grate the cheese for both the crust and the filling using a rasp-type grater – the texture is much lighter.

 

For the crust:
140 grams unsalted butter, chilled
230 grams plain (all-purpose) flour, plus extra for rolling
½ tsp fine sea salt
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
105 grams gruyere, chilled and finely grated
45ml ice water
10ml fresh lemon juice

 

For the topping:
1 head of garlic
About 800 grams ripe, sweet, medium-sized tomatoes, preferably a mix of different colours
About 100 grams small local tomatoes
150 grams gruyere, finely grated
150ml cream
1 large egg
Extra-virgin olive oil
Fine sea salt and rough-flaked sea salt (such as Maldon or fleur de sel)
Freshly ground black pepper

 

Make the crust several hours in advance. Cut the butter into 1cm chunks before freezing for 30 minutes. Mix the lemon juice with the ice water and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Mix the flour, salt and cayenne in a food processor using the pulse action. Add the gruyere then pulse some more. Add the butter and pulse until the butter is the size of small peas. Transfer the ingredients to a large mixing bowl, drizzle with the water and lemon juice and mix with your fingertips until the flour is moist. Knead briefly, adding a little more ice water if it seems too dry, then flatten the dough into a disc, wrap with cling-film and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Roll out the crust on a lightly floured work surface until it forms a large circle about 3mm thick. Drape the dough over a tart pan measuring 28cm in diameter and 3.5cm deep and settle it gently into the contours, taking care not to stretch the dough. Fold the excess dough back into the rim of the pan and use it to reinforce the sides of the crust so it’s a double thickness of pastry, pressing the two layers of dough firmly together. Trim off the excess so it’s flush with the rim. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees Celsius (225 degrees if using a metal pan). Place a double sheet of aluminium foil over the crust and press it in to fit the contours. Pour uncooked rice over the foil, adding enough to fill the pan completely (the rice acts as a weight so the dough doesn’t puff up). Bake for 20 minutes, rotating the pan halfway after 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 200 degrees (180 degrees for a metal pan) and bake for 10 minutes.
Remove the foil and the rice then turn the heat to 180 degrees (keep it at 180 degrees if using a metal pan) and continue to bake the crust until it is pale golden. If the dough puffs up, press it down gently with a paper towel. Remove the crust from the oven and allow to cool.

Use a sharp knife to trim the top off the head of garlic, cutting down just far enough to expose the cloves. Place the whole head on a sheet of aluminium foil and drizzle with about 20ml of extra-virgin olive oil. Wrap the foil loosely around the garlic and bake at 180 degrees for 45 minutes, or until very soft (you can put the garlic in the oven while baking the crust). Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Turn the oven temperature up to 225 degrees.

Squeeze the garlic out of the papery skin. Discard the skin and mash the flesh with a fork. Mix the garlic with the egg, cream and some freshly ground pepper. Add the gruyere and stir to combine – it will end up a thick paste. Spread it in an even layer over the bottom of the baked tart shell. Cut the medium-sized tomatoes into 8mmthick slices and lay them, closely overlapping, over the gruyere and roasted cream, leaving an 8cm space in the middle. Cut the small tomatoes in half and pile them into the centre. Drizzle extra-virgin olive oil over the tomatoes and sprinkle with fine sea salt. Bake at 225 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until the tomatoes are slightly shrivelled. Cool the tart for about 15 minutes then sprinkle with rough-flaked sea salt and serve. This is best eaten fresh; it gets soggy if left for too long.

 

For more on heirloom tomatoes, see Seasons.

 

 

 

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