Leek and Cheese Tart
After making a delicious dingle lamb pie last week, I thought I’d try another savoury dish. The leek and Caerphilly tart from Paul Hollywood’s British Baking catches my eye every time I flick through the book, so I thought I’d give it a go.
As you may have guessed from the title of the post, I didn’t make it with caerphilly. I couldn’t find any. I tried Tesco, Marks and the cheese counter in Leamington’s brilliant butcher’s, Aubrey Allen. There wasn’t any Caerphilly to be found. I did a bit of Googling to find a substitute and the British Cheese Board suggested something crumbly, like Lancashire, Cheshire or Wensleydale. I decided to go with Lancashire.
I started by making the pastry case. I mixed plain flour and salt in a bowl, and added cold butter and lard. Using my trusty pastry blender, I mixed the fat into the flour until the mixture looked like breadcrumbs. Then I slowly added iced water and brought the mixture together to form a dough. I went slightly wetter this week than I did with the dingle lamb pie, so my dough wasn’t quite so crumbly. I formed it into a nice neat disc, wrapped it in clingfilm and put it into the fridge.
The tart case needed to be baked blind before the filling went in so, after 30 minutes or so in the fridge, I rolled the pastry out. Now, Paul Hollywood’s lovely looking tart is baked in a thin rectangular tin. I don’t have one and, I didn’t really think I could justify buying one for just one tart. Let’s face it, a tart’s a tart whether it’s round or rectangular isn’t it? The recipe says that you can use a 23cm round tin as an alternative. I used a round Pyrex flan dish and hoped for the best. My dingle lamb pie had turned out alright, so why should a leek and cheese tart?
Anyway, I lined the dish with my pastry. It was a bit thin around the edges in some places, but I did a bit of patching and was fairly happy with the result. I didn’t trim the pastry from round the edges of the dish at this stage, I was going to be professional about it, and do it once the pastry was cooked. After lining the case with baking paper, I put in some baking beads, and put it into the oven at 180° fan.
The baking time in the recipe is between 12 and 15 minutes or until the pastry is dry to the touch on the base. Checking this was really tricky, because the baking paper was stuck to the pastry. All I know is that, after the top end 15 minutes baking time, the pastry was nowhere near cooked. I gave it another three minutes, and then another two. After that, I took out the paper and the baking beans and put the case back into the oven for another five minutes.
To make the filling, I started by cutting four leeks into 2cm thick chunks. I had a lot of leek chunks. At least a third of them never saw the inside of the tart case. Anyway, I steamed them for 8 minutes, carefully dried them and tossed them in melted butter with a bit of salt and pepper.
Separately, I beat eggs and double cream together and added some thyme leaves. The plant I bought from Tesco last week was (and is) still going strong. There was supposed to be some parsley in there as well, but in my frantic hunt for the Caerphilly, I’d forgotten to get any.
To put the tart together, I crumbled my Lancashire cheese and put half of it into the tart case. My block of cheese was bigger than the recipe amount (the recipe uses 100g, my block was 125g). I decided to use all of it. A 25g block of left over cheese would be of no use to anybody. I put the leeks on top of the cheese. Now, this is where a rectangular tart tin would have been great. The picture in Paul Hollywood’s book is so neat. The leaks fit in so snugly. They don’t do that in a round tin. My leeks were all over the place. Once the leeks were in, I poured the cream/egg mixture onto them and scattered the rest of the cheese over the top. I don’t think there was enough filling. Perhaps I should have invested in the rectangular tin after all.
I baked my tart at 160° fan, again, for much longer than the time stated in the recipe. The recipe time is between 20 and 25 minutes. Mine took nine minutes longer, and I had to crank up the temperature in the end to get the top brown.
Here’s what the finished tart looked like.
Was it worth it?
It was OK. The pastry was very good. The leeks were fine. As I suspected when I put it the cream/egg mixture in, it needed more filling. I also think it could have done with a bit more cheese. Perhaps it would have been much nicer as a rectangle. I think I’ll be returning to cake next time.