I was thinning out my garden leeks this week, and I didn’t want to throw out the extra ones, even though they were tiny, so I decided to use them in a tart with a velvety ricotta base, some caramelized onions, and a puff pastry shell. This was my first attempt at a rough puff pastry. Usually I go the extra mile and make a regular puff pastry, but I decided to give the rough puff a try. It turned out fairly well, but I didn’t find it all that easier or quicker then a regular puff pastry. If you are not feeling up to making your own puff pastry, which can be a bit of a project, feel free to use you store-bought pastry for this tart.
Rough Puff Pastry
- You want to keep your ingredients as cold as possible so that the butter doesn’t melt into the dough. This means working quickly, allowing the dough to rest in the refrigerator for extended periods of time, and handling the dough as little as possible.
- Make sure to use unsalted butter. Salted butter has salt crystals, i.e. extra moisture when warmed, that make it harder to handle and work with, especially, when forming layers.
- 1 3/4 cups Flour (chilled)
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted Butter (chilled)
- 1/2 cup + 3 tbsp iced Water
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- Combine the flour and salt, and place them into a food processor.
- Cut the butter into cubes, and distribute them evenly among the flour.
- Give the food processor a quick pulse, until the butter is distributed among the flour in slightly larger then pea size chunks. Do not over mix to the point that your butter has fully incorporated into your flour and the dough is starting to for together like a pie dough. You want to be able to distinguish the butter as a separate entity form the flour.
- Transfer this mixture into a bowl.
- Make a well in the middle and pour in the water.
- Use your hands to mix the water into the flour. Do not rub or pound the ingredients together, just gently toss them. Once again, you want to make sure that the butter stays in individual chunks. Work efficiently so that your body temperature does not melt the butter.
- Pour your dough out onto a piece of parchment or wax paper, gently press it into a disk, wrap it, and place it in the refrigerator to chill for ~ 30 minutes.
- Remove your dough from the refrigerator.
- Working quickly, roll out your dough and give it a book fold.
- Turn the dough around, and if it is still sufficiently chilled, give it another quick roll out and fold.
- Return the dough to the refrigerator to chill for another 30 minutes, and repeat the folding process one or two more times.
- After your final fold return the dough to refrigerator for a final 30 minutes. It is at this point that you can also freeze your dough for future use.
- Preheat the oven to 425 F (~ 218 C).
- Remove your dough from the refrigerator and roll it out into a large rectangle that will fit a 9″ x 11″ baking pan with a little extra to run up the sides.
- Place the dough in the baking pan.
- Place a piece of parchment over the dough, and pour a couple cups of dried beans or ceramic beads over the bottom of the dough to weigh it down and control the puff while baking.
- Bake the dough for 10 minutes before reducing the heat to 375 F (~ 190 C).
- Bake for another 45 minutes. If the pastry starts to brown too quickly cover it with aluminum foil, and return it to the oven.
Leek and Ricotta Tart
- 1 Puff Pastry Shell
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk Ricotta (part-skim ricotta doesn’t hold its texture when baked)
- 1 thinly sliced sweet Onion
- 1 tbsp Butter
- 2-3 cups of Leeks (large sliced leeks or whole baby leeks with the less tender green parts removed)
- 2 sprigs fresh Thyme
- 3 sprigs fresh Oregano
- Salt and Pepper
- shaved Parmesan for garnish
- Melt the butter in a large skillet, and caramelize the onions in it.
- Once the onions are a nice golden brown, add in the leeks and continue to sauté the leeks for several minutes until mostly cooked.
- Throw in the thyme and oregano, and season with salt and pepper.
- Give the leeks one last quick stir, and remove them from the heat.
- When you remove your pastry shell from the oven, and have pulled off the parchment and weights (If you are using store bought pastry, refer to the cooking instructions for the rough puff pastry above and tailor them to the instructions on your packaging), carefully scoop the ricotta into the bottom of the pastry shell.
- Arrange the leeks and onions overtop of the ricotta.
- Return the tart to the oven, and bake it for another 10 minutes.
- Remove from the oven, and garnish with shaved parmesan.