Thursday, May 10, 2018

Cantal Asparagus Tart with Creme Fraiche

Asparagus harvest chez nous just finished with a flourish of numerous spears, enough for a succulent tart.


Recipe taken from Felicity Cloake's Guardian Article
makes a 22cm round giving four to six servings

For the pastry (or use 250g ready-made shortcrust pastry)
  • 120g cold butter, plus extra to grease
  • 225g plain flour, plus extra to dust
  • 1 medium egg yolk
For the filling
  • 300g asparagus, trimmed
  • 284ml double cream (I substituted crème fraîche)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 50g gruyère, or nutty cheddar, finely grated (I substituted Cantal Entre Deux Laitier)

To make the pastry, grate the butter (I first dredged the butter in the flour to prevent sticking, cut it into small cubes, then using my fingers worked it into small bits) into the flour and rub in roughly with your fingertips to coat (or use a food processor). Stir in the egg yolk and a pinch of salt and, if necessary, a drop of cold water (I needed to use several tablespoons of water) to bring it together into a dough. Form into a thick disc, wrap and chill for 20 minutes. 
Preheat the oven to 180C (350F/gas mark 4) and grease a 22cm round tart tin. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface and use to line the tin, pressing it into the sides with a small ball of excess dough (this was fun!). Prick the base with a fork, line with baking paper and baking beans or pulses/rice and bake for 15 minutes until lightly golden. Remove the beans and paper and put back into the oven for five minutes. 
Meanwhile, steam the asparagus for about four minutes, until al dente. Chop into short lengths, and put about half of the stalks into a food processor (keep all the tops). Puree. Pour the double cream into a jug and add the eggs. Beat together, then stir in the puree and the grated cheese. Season well.
Arrange the remaining asparagus pieces on the bottom of the tart, and then pour in the cream mixture. Bake for about 35-40 minutes until jiggly but set, and golden on top, and allow to cool slightly before serving.
This is the first time I made pastry crust with an egg yolk. How lovely it is! With the leftover pastry, I baked several three-inch rounds which resembled the flakiest flat bread ever.


Blind baking a tart crust may seem not worth the bother, but it does keep the crust nicely crisp, whether it is served cold or warm, even when it had been frozen and defrosted. Therefore this tart can be made in advance. The crust may shrink a bit regardless when pre-baking, so if there is excess of filling, pour it into a baking dish and bake along with the tart.


I used a mixture of white and brown rice to weigh down the parchment paper placed over the pastry. A silicone tart 'tin' was chosen so it could be easily removed for a snazzy presentation.


I am going to miss seeing these little green soldiers pertly poking up in their patch. Since their planting several years ago, this was the first continuous harvest that lasted the recommended full six weeks. Till next spring! Asparagus may take awhile to achieve abundant picking, but once they do, they will keep going for a couple of decades.


Par-boiled asparagus pieces were scattered over the pre-baked crust and the filling poured on.


Because of yellow eggs and green asparagus, its fashion colour sense showed up as delectable chartreuse.


It relied on the Maillard Reaction not only to intensify the flavour but also to round out the colour with a classy brown edginess.


The crust was not only fantastic in taste and texture, but also was sturdy enough to stand on it own.


Delicious aspects abound and one of the most is its consistency which is more like a dense savoury pudding than custard which I suspect is due to blending some of the asparagus.


À la prochaine!

RELATED LINKS

How to make crème fraîche at home

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