Friday, June 17, 2005

SHF#9: Sweet Tomato Tart

Life in Flow is hosting the ninth edition of Sugar High Friday and the theme is Tantalizing Titillating Tempting Tarts! Since I am a self-proclaimed queen of tarts, I simply have to make an entry to this one, if only I can figure out how to submit my entry (technical problems). But even if it never makes it into the SHF roundup, it’s ok too, because it is something that I’ve been meaning to try for a long time.

My favorite neighborhood patisserie came up with a cherry tomato tart a couple of summers ago. I’ve eaten it a few times and really liked it, but maybe the idea is not universally appealing so now they have taken it out of their summer rotation. In its place, they are selling a new tomato mousse tart with strawberries and tomatoes on top, but I still prefer the old version better, with only tomatoes.

So I set out to make my own version of a sweet tomato tart. I found some oblong shaped mini tomatoes in the supermarket that are sweeter than the normal cherry variety and decided to try them. The skin on these tomatoes are rather thick so I cut them in half and roasted in the toaster oven for about eight minutes, just enough that the skin comes off easily but before the tomatoes lose shape.

For the tart base, I decided to use the pate sucree recipe that I learned in cooking school. Here’s how:

Makes one 18cm tart, or double recipe to make 10inch tart.
Unsalted butter 60g
Pinch of salt
One egg yolk
Vanilla essence (or oil) 3-4 drops
Cake flour 80g
Almond powder 30g
Powdered sugar 50g
Bread flour for dusting

1. Sift together cake flour and almond powder twice, store in fridge until use.
2. Place powdered sugar in fridge before use.
3. Bring butter to room temperature.
4. Butter and flour the tart pan. Place in fridge to prevent butter from melting.

Making the dough:
1. Clean and disinfect a large area of the counter.
2. Place the mixture of cake flour and almond powder on the counter and make a big well out of it using a plastic scraper (diameter of well should be twice the width of scraper)
3. Place the remaining ingredients inside the well in the following order: powdered sugar, vanilla oil, salt, butter, egg yolk. As much as you can, try not to let the ingredients touch each other, and block the egg yolk from the sugar with a wall of butter. (This prevents sugar from absorbing water in the egg yolk, leading to clumps)

4. Using your fingers, squeeze butter and egg yolk together until completely incorporated.
5. Use scraper to cut into butter the powdered sugar, then flour mixture.

6. Gather all the dough in front of you with the scraper. Using the heel of your hand, push a portion of the dough the size of a golf ball away from you on the counter. Repeat in a radiating pattern until all the dough is pushed away. Gather up dough and repeat. At first the dry ingredients will separate from the butter mixture,

but after three to four repetitions, the dough should come together nicely. Do not over-knead, otherwise gluten will form, causing the dough to become hard and also shrink while baking.

7. Pat dough into a round disc, and place inside freezer for 15 minutes or fridge for at least one hour.
8. Dust counter with bread flour (particle size of bread flour is larger than cake flour, so it’s better suited to prevent sticking) and roll dough out into a disc and line the tart pan, prick all over with fork.
9. Bake in 350F/180C oven for 15 minutes or until golden.
10. Cool on rack and invert out of tart pan.

1/6 cup sour cream
½ cup mascarpone cheese
1/8 cup sugar
¾ tsp finely grated lemon zest
pinch of salt
roasted mini tomato halves with skin removed (enough to line top of tart)

1 tbsp apricot jam boiled with 1-2 tbsp water until desired consistency is reached.

Whisk together all the fillings ingredients except for tomatoes and spread in cooled shell. Arrange tomato halves on top of filling. Brush the tomatoes with glaze to prevent from drying out.

All in all, it worked out ok. The dough gets soft really quickly so I wasn’t able to get the complete piece of rolled out dough into the tart pan. After two tries, I gave up and patched it up in the pan instead. It still worked out really well and came out effortlessly, and my tart pan doesn’t even have a removable bottom. Despite my convoluted description, it is actually really easy to make the pate sucree. Using this method, you get a really nice almost fluffy texture. Never will you have the problem of the unbreakable tart bottom because this one crumbles nicely under a slight stab of the fork, yet holds up nicely for easy handling.

The cream filling is nice and tasty, but not exactly what I had in mind. Thinking back, the original filling had more of a custard feel. The tomatoes and fillings were probably baked with the tart base too, because if I remember correctly, the custard also had tomato taste in it. Oh shucks, it’s been so long since I had the real thing that I can’t remember exactly what it’s like. I guess I will just have to settle with my version of it for now.

Update: the host at Life in Flow graciously gave me his email address so it looks like the tomato tart will make its way into the SHF roundup. Thanks, Redbeard for uniting tart lovers all over for this SHF!


Nic said...

Very unusual, Lynn. I'm nor suprised that a bakery had to add strawberries to increase the appeal of the dessert, though. I don't think tomatoes jump to the front of anyone's mind when it comes to dessert. I'd definately have some, though!

Rachel said...

I once had a sweet poached tomato (served with the basil ice cream I was telling you about), and although I thought the ice cream was refreshingly good, the tomato just had too much umami. Did you find that to be the case here? I think I'm pretty open-minded when it comes to food, but the tomato is one fruit that my palate *insists* is a savory creature.

Your tart shell looks, as always, to be perfection! But frisage + pastry dough scares me to death.

keiko said...

Hi Lynn - this looks so delicious and beautiful. I'm glad you made it because I've been waiting since you told me about the tart! The filling sounds yummy to me, but I'm sure you can experiment more and make even better one!

Jennifer said...

What an original use for tomatoes - they are a fruit, aren't they? I LOVE IT! And your step-by-step pictures that accompany your crust directions are perfect - I will be following them next time I make a tart.

Thank you so much for joining in on SHF - your first! - hope to see you out again next month!

Chefdoc said...

Hi Lynn, I'm a definately a fan of sweetened tomatoes. Your tart is gorgeous! I had not seen your method of pulling a pate brisee together before. I will give it a try. Thanks.

Lynn said...

Nic, I think you are right. I think that tomato tart was far from the best-selling item at that bakery. Too bad for me =o(

Rach, maybe next time we do the ice-cream party again we could roast some potatos and see if you change your mind ;o)

Keiko, I was really bummed that they don't have that tart any more, but I will try to make a tastealike!

Jennifer, this is actually my third SHF =oP but first original recipe (well, sort of). I'm glad you find the photo-illustrated instructions helpful. It's surprisingly easy, and no fancy tools needed.

Chefdoc, I am sure you will have no problem with the sucree, judging from your expertise in tart-making!

Lynn said...

Um, I meant tomato, Rachel, not potato!

chronicler said...

Lynn, what a unique tart! I have a family full of tomatoe lovers. This will be a super treat for them!

sarah said...

i love tomatoes and your tart is so cute! and i totally remember my mother trying o get us to eat them as "dessert" when we were little by sprinkling them with sugar...but i guess they're sort of considered berries, anyway! lol!

Melissa said...

Hi Lynn,
Great photos and 'step-by-step' of making the 'sucree' dough! Picture perfect!

Lynn said...

Chronicler, go for it! I hope your family likes it.

Sarah, my grandmother used to sprinkle sugar on tomatoes too, except we ate it as a salad. Weird, huh!

Melissa, glad I could be of help.

Lady V said...

wow... they're absolutely amazing *drool*

how do you get the tarts out of the dish? I find it impossible, and the first cut always ends up messy and crumbly. =(

Lynn said...

I never have problems getting tarts out of pans. But if you do, maybe you could brush the inside with butter or shortening and dust with flour.

As for cutting, I use a bread knife in a sawing motion for the first cut. After that a normal chef's knife will do.

Hope it helps. And thanks for stopping by!