I made my own sweet pastry for the first time, last Sunday, when Robyn and Shane
came over for lunch. Woke up early and couldn’t get back to sleep because I was
thinking about pastry. So got out of bed and started baking. I served these with a
dollop of vanilla ice cream.
330g plain flour
100g icing sugar
Grated zest of ½ lemon
¼ teaspoon salt
180g cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 free range egg yolk
2 tbsp cold water
Put the flour, icing sugar, lemon zest and salt in a bowl and add the butter. Rub it in with your hands or, more easily, using a mixer fitted with the beater attachment. Or you can
do the job in a food processor with the beater attachment. In all cases, you need to mix
the ingredients until you get a coarse breadcrumb consistency, making sure there aren’t any large lumps of butter left.
Add the egg yolk and water and mix just until the dough comes together, being careful
not to mix any longer than necessary. You might need to add a tiny amount of extra water.
Remove the dough from the mixing bowl and knead very lightly for a few for a few seconds only, just to shape it into a smooth disc, 5-6cm thick. Wrap in cling film and chill until ready to use. The pastry will keep in the fridge for a week and at least a month in the freezer.
40g melted unsalted butter for brushing
¼ quantity of sweet pastry
Plain flour for dusting
Start by brushing your tartlet tins with a thin layer of melted butter, then leave to set in the fridge. You can use small muffin tins instead as long as they’re about 5-7cm diameter and about 3cm deep.
Meanwhile, prepare a wide, clean work surface and have ready a rolling pin and a small amount of flour. Lightly dust the work surface, place the pastry in the middle and roll out the sweet pastry thinly, turning it around as you go. Work quickly so it doesn’t get warm.
Once the pastry is no more than 2-3mm thick, cut out 6 circles using a pastry cutter or the rim of a bowl. Line the buttered tins by placing the circles inside and gently pressing them into the corners and sides. Leave to rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 150˚C / gas mark 2. Line each pastry case with a circle of scrunched-up greaseproof paper or a piece of cling film. It should come 1cm above the edge of the pastry (paper muffin cases are another great solution). Fill them up with rice, dry beans or baking beans, then place in the oven and bake blind for about 25 minutes. By then they should have taken on a golden-brown colour. If they are not quite there yet, remove the beans and lining paper and continue baking for 5-10 minutes. Remove from the oven.
Keep the baking beans or rice and the paper holding them for future use. Remove the
tart cases from the tins while they are still slightly warm and leave them on the side to
cool down completely.
Banana and hazelnut filling
45g unskinned hazelnuts
90g unsalted butter
100g icing sugar
40g plain flour
2 free range egg whites
½ tsp vanilla essence
50g mashed banana
2 tsp lemon juice
6 pre-baked tartlet cases
50g smooth apricot jam
50g dark chocolate, broken into pieces (optional)
Heat the oven to 150˚C / gas mark 2. Scatter the hazelnuts in an oven tray and roast
for 12 minutes. Remove and allow to cool down.
While you wait for the nuts, make some burnt butter. Put the butter in a medium pan
and cook over a moderate heat. After a few minutes, it should start to darken and
smell nutty. Take off the heat and leave to cool slightly.
Set aside 10g of the nuts. The rest (plus their skins) put in a food processor, together
with 70g of the icing sugar. Work to a fine powder and then add the flour. Pulse together
to mix. Add the egg whites and work the machine very briefly, just to mix them in.
Repeat with the vanilla and the butter. It is important to stop the machine as soon as
the ingredients are incorporated.
Mix the mashed banana with the lemon juice and the remaining icing sugar. Spoon about
two teaspoons of this mixture into each pre-baked tart case (still in the tin). Top with the hazelnut batter. It should come to within 2-3mm of the top. Place in the oven and bake
for 20-22 minutes, until the hazelnut filling is completely set. You can check this with
a skewer. Remove the tarts from the oven and cool slightly, then carefully remove them from their tins.
Put the apricot jam in a small saucepan, stir in a tablespoon of water and bring to the
boil. Remove from the heat and brush lightly over the tart tops. Roughly chop the
reserved nuts and scatter them on the jam.
If using the chocolate, put it in a heatproof bowl and place over a pan of simmering
water. Stir gently just until the chocolate melts. Use a spoon to drizzle the tarts gently
with the chocolate, trying to create thin, delicate lines. Do not drizzle too much, so the chocolate doesn’t take over.