Crème Fraîche Tarts

Recipe By:  Naomi Pomeroy with Jamie Feldmar
Crème Fraîche Tarts

Try this recipe for Crème Fraîche Tarts from the cookbook Taste & Technique: Recipes To Elevate Your Home Cooking by Naomi Pomeroy with Jamie Feldmar.

This is one of the most eye-opening recipes you’ll ever learn, because once you know it, the possibilities for riffing on it are endless. Morgan Brownlow, my old chef and partner at Clarklewis, taught me this dough. It’s incredibly easy to make at home, even for less experienced cooks, and the results are particularly impressive, especially considering how little effort goes into it.

The key to success is to keep your ingredients cold and not to overmix them. Apart from that, this dough comes together in minutes. And once it’s rolled out, you can top it with virtually anythin — savory or sweet. It bakes up beautifully buttery and flaky and rises almost like puff pastry. I love that you can cut the dough into small pieces for tiny passed appetizers or use the whole batch for a full-size tart that’s perfect for lunch with a simple salad.

Ingredients

Dough

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 16 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 1⁄2-inch cubes and refrigerated until needed
  • 1 cup cold crème fraîche or sour cream, refrigerated until needed

Egg Wash

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream

Half-Dried Tomatoes (makes about 1 cup)

  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1⁄2 teaspoons finely minced summer savory or thyme
Directions Yield:  Serves 6 to 8

Make The Dough 

  1. In a food processor, combine the flour, salt, and baking powder and process briefly to mix. Using the pulse function, add the butter, a few cubes at a time, pulsing 15 to 20 times until the butter is reduced to pea-size pieces. Work quickly to ensure the butter doesn’t warm up too much. Add the crème fraîche directly from the refrigerator and pulse 4 to 6 times to incorporate. Then pulse another 4 to 6 times, until the dough begins to have a slightly uniform but pebbly texture and no dry flour remains.
  2. Stretch a 2-foot-long sheet of plastic wrap across a clean work surface. Turn the dough out onto the plastic wrap. Gather all of the edges of the plastic wrap around the dough, press together, and form the dough into a ball. Tap the dough ball on the countertop to shape it into a rectangle about 6 by 10 inches, flattening the top surface at the end to create an even shape. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for at least 1 or for up to 24 hours.
  3. Unwrap the dough and allow it to rest for no more than 15 to 20 minutes, just until it is slightly pliable. Lightly flour a clean work surface. Using a rolling pin, whack the dough several times across its surface to soften it. Pick up the dough, flour the work surface again ever so slightly, and return the dough to the surface.
  4. Roll out the dough into a rectangle about 8 by 12 inches, with the long side parallel to the countertop’s edge. Fold the rectangle in thirds, like a letter. The dough will look like a book: with a spine (the folded edge) on one side and the open edge on the other. Now rotate the “book” so the spine is facing your body, parallel to the countertop’s edge. Roll the dough out again to an 8 by 12-inch rectangle. Fold the rectangle in thirds again. Rotate the “book” one more time so the spine is facing your body and roll out the dough a third time to a 9 by 15-inch rectangle that’s about 1⁄4 inch thick. Cut the rectangle lengthwise into three strips, each 3 by 15 inches. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the dough strips, not touching, on the prepared baking sheet and prick all over with a fork, leaving a 1⁄4-inch boundary around the edge. Put the baking sheet with the dough into the freezer for about 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Make The Egg Wash 

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and cream until well blended.
  2. Remove the dough strips from the freezer and, using a pastry brush, brush each with egg wash, then bake for 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, turn down the oven to 375°F, and wait for a few minutes for the temperature to adjust. Return the baking sheet to the oven and bake for 12 to 15 minutes more, until the pastry is rich golden brown. Carefully lift up the pastry with a metal spatula to ensure that the bottom is also toasted brown.
  3. Top with one of the following combinations, all of which can be prepped while the dough is chilling in the refrigerator, and finish baking the tarts as directed in each recipe. The tarts will be fairly dark in color. Don’t worry; the taste is amazing.

Half-Dried Tomatoes and Strong Cheese

This is one of my favorite ways to top these tarts: the tomatoes are bright and acidic and add a beautiful burst of color, while a funky cheese plays against the tender pastry. The whole thing gets balanced with a dose of herbaceous flavor from the thyme or savory in the half-dried tomatoes.

  1. Arrange the cheese slices (8 ounces cold strongly flavored soft cheese (such as Brie or Taleggio), sliced 1⁄8 inch thick) along the parbaked pastry strips, dividing them evenly and leaving 1⁄4 inch of pastry uncovered around the edges. Spoon the tomatoes, cut side up, over the cheese and return the tarts to the 375°F oven for 3 to 5 minutes, until the pastry is very dark golden brown. Cut crosswise into pieces and serve immediately.

Make Half-Dried Tomatoes

These bright, acidic cherry tomatoes add a burst of color and flavor to everything from scrambled eggs to Crème Fraîche Tarts or Seared Sea Scallops.

  1. Preheat the oven to 300°F. Cut the tomatoes in half crosswise. Place the tomatoes, cut side up, on a parchment paper–lined baking sheet. Drizzle with the oil and sprinkle with the salt, pepper, and savory. Roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the tomatoes are beginning to color on their edges and have lost about half of their moisture. The tomatoes will keep, covered with plastic wrap at room temperature, for up to 1 day.

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Photographer:
Chris Court © 2016
Source:
Reprinted with permission from Taste & Technique: Recipes to Elevate Your Home Cooking by Naomi Pomeroy with Jamie Feldmar, copyright © 2016. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.
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