Little tarts

Sometimes a first course is needed. Or an appetiser. These little tarts are made with yeasted wholemeal pastry. The yeast leavens the pastry and turns solid crunchy wholemeal into an altogether lighter mouthful. Probably wouldn’t win any prizes but they taste nice.

Brie and tomato; goat’s cheese and pepper tarts

Ingredients for 7-8 mini tarts:

  • Pastry: 100g wholemeal/atta flour, 60g butter, salt, chopped fresh herbs, ~10g fresh yeast, 20ml milk and water mixture, 1 tsp sugar, 1 egg, 10ml milk, more water.
  • Filling: sliced onions, fennel, peppers, a few cherry tomatoes, olive oil, hard goat’s cheese, brie (both cheeses here come from Sharpham, Devon.)
  • Alternates: leeks, garlic, mushrooms, different cheese (halloumi, feta, wensleydale)
  • Method: First put the yeast, milk mixture and sugar together. Whisk it and leave until frothy. Then sift the flour with salt, stir in half the egg, rub in 10 g butter, and add sufficient water to achieve a dough consistency (not too much, this is pastry, not bread). Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll out into a rectangle. Divide the remaining butter in two. Make thin slices of one portion and lay across the middle section of dough. Then fold one side over and lay the slices of the second portion of butter on top, finally folding the second side over the top. Pinch the edges to stop the butter escaping.

Proceed as per rough puff pastry, that is, rotate the package by 90 degrees and roll out to a rectangle, fold sides to middle, rotate, roll, fold. Do this several times more, then leave the dough to rest in the fridge for an hour or two. If you would like, scatter finely chopped herbs through the layers, too. When this stage is complete, take out the dough and roll it out again. Divide into 8 pieces – these can be rectangles, squares, triangles, diamonds. Turn over the edges to make a raised rim. Lay on a baking tray lined with baking paper and brush with the remaining egg and milk. Leave to rise.

While the pastry is resting, sauté sliced onions, peppers, fennel and any other filling vegetable in olive oil. Leave to cool.

  • Assembly: Lay a selection of desired vegetables over each tart base. Add a few thin slices of cheese. Bake at 200°C for about 10 minutes – watch them as timings are variable. Serve with fresh basil or parsley. A smidgeon of chutney is often appreciated.

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