The key to a perfect tart is the pastry. Like most things worth doing it takes practice, but once mastered you’ll never go back to the pre-made stuff. Sift 250g of plain flour into a large bowl and rub in 125g of diced cold butter until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add a pinch of salt, 1 beaten egg and 3 tablespoons of cold water. Knead the dough lightly, but don’t overwork it or it will lose its “short” texture. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Lightly flour your work surface and roll the pastry in one direction. Rotate the pastry 90 degrees and roll again. Repeat until you have an even 5mm thickness. Lay over a buttered tart tin, pushing the pastry into the sides. Trim the pastry, leaving 1cm of excess pastry. Don’t pinch it over the sides, as it will shrink during cooking pulling the pastry shell out of shape. Prick the base with a fork and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
Cover the pastry with greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans. Bake at 180C for 20 minutes. Remove the beans and paper and bake for a further 5 minutes. Brush the hot pastry with egg wash and bake for a further 2 minutes. This forms a seal which keeps the pastry crisp when you add the filling.
Fig, Goats Cheese & Bacon Tart
Serves 8 – 10
Preparation time 25 minutes (plus the pastry)
Cooking time approx. 40 minutes
1 cooked pastry case – above
350ml double cream
aromatics – bay leaf, thyme, peppercorns, rosemary
generous pinch of salt
6 figs – sliced
6 rashers streaky bacon – cut into chunky lardons & sautéed
250g goats cheese – grated
1 tablespoon chopped fresh marjoram
- Pre-heat oven to 170C.
- Bring the cream, milk, salt & aromatics to a simmer. Pass through a sieve.
- Scatter half the figs, marjoram, bacon & cheese into the pastry case.
- Pour in enough of the custard to almost fill the tart.
- Scatter over the remaining figs, marjoram, bacon & cheese.
- Carefully place in the oven. Top up with the custard & bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the filling has set & the top has a lovely golden hue.
- Rest for 10 minutes before slicing.