‘This is a tart with serious heft,’ says Alice, ‘but it retains a certain elegance. A rustic elegance, perhaps. You will need a lot of baking beans; more than I had in the house, so I used a couple of bags of dried pulses that had been hanging around for too long. Giving a weight quantity for garlic may seem odd, but anyone who has witnessed those monster smoked garlic bulbs will understand the sheer size of each clove. A note on the pastry: you could substitute 500g bought, all-butter shortcrust and the world would still turn.’
Luxurious Leek and Almond Tart recipe
Makes: 1 enormous tart
Prep: 50 minutes plus at least 1 ½ hours chilling
Cook: 2 hours
For the pastry
225g unsalted butter, chilled and
cubed, plus more softened
butter for the tin
475g plain flour, plus more
1 tsp salt
1 egg, separated
For the filling
Pinch of saffron
100ml single cream
12 large, fat leeks, trimmed, very
well washed and thickly sliced
50g unsalted butter
15g smoked garlic cloves,
5 eggs, plus 2 egg yolks
60g parmesan cheese
bunch of chives, finely snipped
Start with a deep, 26cm diameter springform cake tin. Lightly butter the inside of the tin, then dust the butteriness with flour, tapping and turning the tin and tipping out any excess.
Using the pulse button of a food processor, whizz the butter, flour and salt together for a couple of minutes, until it looks like coarse sand. Tip into a bowl and, using a table knife, cut in the egg yolk and just enough iced water to get the mixture clumping. Tip on to a work surface and lightly bring together. Flatten to form a disc, wrap in cling film and chill for at least one hour, or up to three days.
Remove the pastry from the fridge about 30 minutes before needed. On a lightly floured surface, roll the pastry out to the thickness of a two-pound coin. Line the tin, pushing it up the sides and right into the ‘corners’ with a small ball of pastry. Leave a good overhang. Chill for at least 30 minutes, a couple of hours if you have time. Preheat the oven to 190°C/fan 170°C/375°F/gas mark 5.
Scrunch up a large sheet of baking paper to make it more malleable then line the pastry with it and fill with baking beans, dried pulses or raw rice. Whatever you use, it needs to reach right to the top or the sides could collapse in or just plain slump. Slide on to a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, before gingerly removing the paper and beans. Bake for a further five minutes or so, until the pastry looks cooked and ‘sandy’ but is still pale in colour. Remove from the oven and immediately brush the pastry all over with the egg white, to seal and keep it crisp when the filling goes in. Trim the pastry flush with the tin. The case will keep, well wrapped, for a couple of days.
Reduce the oven temperature to 170°C/fan 150°C/325°F/gas mark 3. Soak the saffron in the cream. In a large saucepan with a closefitting lid, gently soften the leeks and a pinch of salt in the butter.
Recipes taken from Friends At My Table by Alice Hart, published by Quadrille. Photos ©EMMA LEE
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