Monday, July 30, 2007

My First Real Crust

I love tarts, quiches, and basically anything that comes in a crust or something resembling a pie crusts (except most fruit pies, but even then I will happily eat the crust and pick at the fruit). Why - because I am a crust fiend. Being a crust fiend, I have always been scared of making a pie crust and how disastrously it might turn out. Of course I wanted it to be perfect the first time. (I don't set high expectations for myself!) After looking at some beautiful tarts (more tarts) and quiches on Smitten Kitchen, I was convinced that I had to at least try to make a crust. Armed with newfound bravery and a recipe from Rebar, I made my first pie crust.

I used a recipe for a whole wheat pastry, though it's about a 1 to 3 ratio for whole wheat flour to white flour. I was hoping for an all whole wheat crust but apparently you can't really do that, though I did find a recipe for a 100% whole wheat pizza crust at Checkered Napkins that uses whole wheat pastry flour, so perhaps I could use that as inspiration to make a 100% whole wheat pie crust. I used all butter, instead of the half butter half shortening called for. I was astounded at how easy the pie crust was to make and ecstatic to see it turn out looking and tasting okay. The preamble to the recipe says that it's foolproof, and I'd have to agree. It has you roll the dough out between two pieces of plastic wrap (which doesn't make the environmentally friendly person in me happy, but I hope to become more skilled where I won't need to do this sort of thing). You then lift off the top piece of plastic wrap, and flip the dough upside down into the pie crust. As it turns out, I didn't roll the dough into a perfect circle so when I was folding the extra bits in, it was a bit uneven. But it all worked out in the end so I can't really complain.

There are two tart recipes in the wonderful Rebar cookbook: apple and spinach tart, and squash & smoked cheddar tart. I went for the apple and spinach tart first, and I have plans to try out the other one later. Though I might use sweet potato instead of squash, but anyway. The tart was quite tasty, despite the long wait time since the tart wouldn't set. I wasn't sure how the apples on the top would turn out - a tasty addition or a strange apples gone brown exposed to air thing. They ended up being a tasty addition and added something different to a savoury tart. I look forward to using this recipe as a base to come up with my own tart filling combinations!

Oh and I'm trying something different with the photos for this post. Mostly because the original lighting of them was not so great, so I'm trying to use the magic of photoshop to make them look better. The pictures are, I don't even know how to describe them - brighter, more yellow and overexposed? Is this a good thing, I'm not sure. One day I will learn the skill of making poorly lighted photos look awesome (I hope). Or just get one of those expensive cameras with the flash that I can point up the ceiling to diffuse the light and all that fancy stuff.

Apple & Spinach Tart
(adapted from Rebar)

serves 8

1 pre-baked whole wheat tart shell
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup chopped leeks
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cracked pepper
1 bunch spinach, stemmed, washed and wilted
3 eggs
1 cup light cream*
1 cup grated aged cheddar**
3 apples, a combination of red & green
1 egg white, lightly beaten

1. Heat the butter and olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Add the leeks and a pinch of salt and saute until the leeks are soft. Set aside to cool. Wilt the spinach, squeeze out excess water and chop. Next, lightly beat the eggs in a bowl. Add cream, salt and pepper and whisk together.

2. To assemble the tart, evenly distribute grated aged white cheddar over the bottom of the pre-baked tart shell. Follow with the leeks and the spinach. Pour the egg mixture over top.

3. Quarter and core the apples. Thinly slice each quarter into 8 thin wedges. Starting at the outer edge of the tart, overlap apple slices, skin sides facing out, in a circle around the edge. Spiral the overlapping slices towards the center of the tart to cover the entire surface. Beat the egg white in a small bowl and brush over the apples. Place the tart on a baking tray and bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes***, or until the egg is set and the crust has browned. Let the tart rest for at least 15 minutes before removing from the pan. Cut into wedges and serve.

*I used what I had, which was 1/2 cup whipped cream and 1/2 cup 1% milk.
**The recipe calls for crumbled blue cheese but I really am not at the point of liking blue cheese yet. And extremely love aged white cheddar.
***I ended up baking it for 45-55 minutes because it didn't seem to be setting. Maybe because I used half 1% milk?

Note: I used an 8" pie shell and it only fit 2 apples and not quite all of the egg/cream mixture.

Whole Wheat Pastry
(adapted from Rebar)

makes one 10" tart

1 cup unbleached flour
6 tbsp whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar
7 tbsp chilled unsalted butter
4 tbsp ice water

1. Combine the first four ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir together. Add the chilled butter. Using our fingertips, mix gingerly until the fat and flour combine to form a coarse meal. Sprinkle in the ice water and mix until the dough just holds together. Form into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes, or until ready to use.

2. Wipe counter with a lightly damp cloth. Spread a sheet of plastic wrap over the moistened surface to cover an area slightly larger than the intended crust size. Smooth the plastic into place. Position the ball of dough in the center of the plastic and press with your palm to flatten a circle 6" across. Cover the dough with a second sheet of plastic wrap.

3. Roll out the dough in strokes radiating outwards from the center, with even pressure on the rolling pin, to a size slightly larger than the diameter of the tart pan. Gently lift the top sheet of plastic off the dough, and have a tart pan ready by your side. Lift the crust by the bottom sheet and flip the dough upside down, centered onto the pan. The dough should be overlapping all around the sides of the pan.

4. Carefully separate the plastic from the dough and gently press it against the sides. Using your thumb, push the dough all along the edge where the side meets the bottom. Fold the overhang inwards, leaving a double crust along the side and a rounded edge on top. Prick the bottom of the dough with a fork to prevent the crust from puffing up when pre-baking. Bake in the center of a pre-heated 350F oven for 15 minutes or until slightly golden.


Patricia Scarpin said...

And what an unusual combination of flavors!

lynn said...

Congratulations on your first pie crust! It looks great!

My eco tip for you, if you eat boxed cereal, is to save the inner wrapper and use that in place of waxed paper for rolling out your pie dough. You're getting another use out of something destined for the trash anyway and don't have to use up more plastic wrap.

eatme_delicious said...

patricia: thanks. :) though of course i can't take credit for the combination of flavours.

lynn: thanks! and thanks so much for the eco tip. it's such an awesome idea!

kickpleat said...

i'm going to have to give this a try! i'm such a pie crust-aphobic.

eatme_delicious said...

kickpleat: hope this crust works out for you and takes your crust phobia away. :)

Alanna said...

Just beautiful - and congratulations!! Good crust is worth perfecting, you've got a great start!!

eatme_delicious said...

alanna: Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I absolutely love the rebar cookbook as well!.. it's my favorite! I just bought all of the ingredients and was planning on making this tart tomorrow (i'm trying it w/ the blue cheese) - how did you like the taste ?
was this recipe a hit?


eatme_delicious said...

Peter: I liked the tart - it was something different. But it doesn't stand out in my mind now as something I must make again. Hope it turns out well for you!