Is there anything more enticing then good flakey puff pastry?!
The overwhelming allure of butter that fills both nostrils when it bakes. The change of texture as your teeth sink through. The way the brittle crisp exterior gives way to its soft buttery pillow beneath. Its the sort of perfection that merely to describe has the power to fill my mouth with saliva, in anticipation. As far as I am concerned it is damn near baking-foodporn* perfection. The shortcrust variety doesn’t even come close. Sorry but you know its true.
I will be honest with you, whilst the tart was baking, I could barely tear myself from the kitchen. I was like a giddy schoolgirl waiting in anticipation for the oven for the pinger to go off.
This puff-pastry is a lil bit special. Why? Well because it is the easiest puff pastry you will ever make… and it is completely wheat-free. It is made with Spelt, an ancient ground flour. Spelt is in the same family as wheat (so thus still contains gluten) but in much lower quantities and it is much easier to digest. I say that boldly because if anyone knows about un-digestible flours and grains its me… miss sensitive. I have never have had a problem with spelt and in terms of baking it acts in a way similar to wheat. It yields a fabulously flakey-pastry, thats for sure. In fact it worked so well that no-one who I served it to had any idea that it wasn’t wheat. My mum (pictured above) is the puff-pastry queen and she was suitably impressed, a job well done me thinks.
As ever with tart making, there were the few scraps of pastry excess, after a little trimming. These were baked alongside as chef perks. Being the impatient baker that I am, I made the classic error of eating them 10-seconds from the oven and burning my tongue at the first bite. Not recommended if you want to keep the roof of your mouth in tact!
For the Pastry
- 300g White Spelt Flour
- 1 tsp fine Sea Salt
- 250g Unsalted Butter (cut in cubes) at room temperature
- 150ml cold water, approximately
For the Filling
- 1/2 Butternut Squash, sliced longways in inch thick pieces (see below picture)
- 1 large Carrot, cut in 1-inch pieces on the bias.
- 1 Egg
- 2 tablespoons Creme Fraiche or Soured Cream
- 150g Manchego or a Mature Cheddar Cheese
- 1 tablespoon dried Thyme, optional
- 2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil, plus extra for drizzling
- Sea Salt and Fresh Black Pepper
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees celsius, gas mark 4.
Arrange the carrot and squash on a baking tray, drizzle over the oil, scatter over the thyme, salt and pepper and shake to evenly coat. Place the baking tray in the oven. Cook or 40-45 minutes, or until the veg are golden and soft.
Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Add the butter to the bowl and rub them in loosely. Don’t rub them in too much, you need to see bits of butter.
Make a well in the centre of the flour and pour in about two-thirds of the cold water. Start working the water into the dough, mixing until you have a firm rough dough. Add extra water if needed.
Bring the pastry together into a ball. Cover with cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for 20 mins.
Turn the pastry out onto a lightly floured board, knead gently and form into a smooth rectangle. Roll the dough in one direction only, until 3 times the width, about 20 x 50cm. Keep edges straight and even. Don’t overwork the butter streaks; you should have a marbled effect.
Fold the top third down to the centre, then the bottom third up and over that. Give the dough a quarter turn (to the left or right) and roll out again to three times the length. Fold as before, cover with cling film and chill for at least 20 mins before rolling to use.
Roll the pastry into a rectangle. Prick the bottom of the tart with a fork to prevent air pockets forming and fold over the edges and tuck the pastry in so that there is a lip – you don’t want the filling to spill out.
Whisk the egg and creme fraiche together in a bowl, crumble in the cheese and season generously. Pour the mixture in the bottom of the tart and arrange the squash and carrot on top. I tend to brush the pastry with a little bit of milk or a whisked egg to make it shiny and golden, but this is optional. Scatter over a little extra dried thyme too, if you fancy.
Place the tart in the oven and bake for 25- 30 minutes. Check on it after 20 minutes, some ovens cook aster then others.
*Speaking of of Food Porn, my Tarragon Chicken recipe has just been featured on the foodporndaily website, the ultimate click and drool experience. Check it out here.