Classic Tart with Crispy Lardons, Shallots, Gruyere & Spelt Pastry

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I made this for a summer garden party a couple of weeks ago and it's a good party staple as it can be made the day before.  Anyone that knows me knows that I love using spelt flour and here it really does vamp up this classic.  Of course you can make standard short crust pastry with plain flour but I think this has more flavour and is easier for most people to digest.  FYI you cannot substitute with normal flour here.  The filling is very easy to make and the pastry takes a little more time but I promise it is worth it.  I usually don’t put cream into savoury recipes but here I feel it deserves it and is a classic combination for a reason.  

Serves 10-12

Ingredients:

190g smoked lardons (I used organic)

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

3 banana shallots, thinly sliced

few sprigs of rosemary leaves, roughly chopped (thyme would also be nice)

5 garlic cloves, diced

180g grated gruyere cheese

6 medium eggs, lightly beaten (I used organic)

150ml double cream

Few gratings of nutmeg

Sea salt and black pepper

For the spelt pastry

310g spelt flour

190g unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes

6-8 tbsp ice cold water

1 tsp sea salt

Start by making the spelt pastry and add the flour, sea salt into an electric blender.  Once you have cut the butter into cubes store on a plate in the freezer for about 10 minutes to doubly make sure its chilled.  This is important as this will ensure that you have a crunchy, buttery pastry.  Add all the cubed butter into the blender in one go and blend for 10 seconds.  Then spoon in the iced cold water and blend until everything comes together into a ball.  You might not need all of the water.  At this point stop the blender and gather all the dough together wrapping it up in cling film.  You should have a nice soft dough. Store in the fridge until chilled for at least 1-2 hours.  You can leave this overnight but just remember it will need to sit outside the fridge for 15 minutes to soften before you start rolling it out.

Lightly butter a 11inch loose-bottom tart tin and dust over with a very thin layer of flour.  Place in the fridge to cool and remove the now chilled dough.  Next lightly dust a clean dry surface with flour and use a rolling pin to roll out the dough into a circle larger than the tin.  You will want to do this quickly to avoid warming the pastry up too much.  Roll to about 1cm thick and carefully place over the now chilled tart tin.  Use fingers to quickly mould the pastry into the tin and neaten off the edges making sure that the edges don’t go too thin.  You might have some pastry left over which can be frozen and used another time.  Gently prod the pastry all over with a fork and then make a cartouche (a circular piece of baking paper) to lay on top of the pastry.  Then pour baking beans or raw rice/chickpeas on top of the baking paper.  Place back in the fridge for another hour to chill the pastry again. 

Now preheat the oven to 170 degrees fan and blind bake the tart for about 15 minutes in the middle of the oven.  Then carefully remove the tin and gently remove the baking paper with the baking beans.  Place the tart case back into the oven for another 10 minutes or until lightly golden in colour.  Then remove from the oven ready for the filling.

While the tart is baking you can make a start on the filling.  Set a large frying pan to a medium to high heat and add in the smoked lardons.  These will need about 10 minutes to crisp up and then scrape onto kitchen roll to get rid of the oil.  Now set the same pan back onto a high heat and add the olive oil followed by the sliced shallots.  Allow these to fry for about 10 minutes until they have softened and caramelised slightly.  Then add in the chopped rosemary and fry for about 1 minute before adding in the garlic to fry for another 2 minutes.  Remove the pan from the heat.  In a bowl break in the eggs and lightly beat then together.  Add in the grated gruyere, crispy lardons, pan mix, double cream, nutmeg gratings and season with salt and pepper.  Gently stir everything together and use a spatula to scrape this all into the baked tart case.  Place this back into the oven for another 15-20 minutes or until the top is lightly golden and has risen.  Remove from the oven and it should feel slightly firm to touch.  Leave to cool before removing the tin and placing on a serving platter.  This will keep well in the fridge for three days.

Nina ParkerComment