I love cake, I do. Making it, reading about it, photographing it, talking about it, feeding it to people, eating it. Pure joy. All of it. Alas one can not subsist on cake alone and therefore I have to devise ways to get my bake on without ladling out cupfuls of sugar and slabs of butter. Sigh, if only you could take the calories out of cake as Cameron Diaz dreams the object of her affections Peter does in The Sweetest Thing. Tell me you haven’t had that dream too… ;)
As May draws to a close, the weather has turned and we are having glorious sun filled skies on a daily basis which always inspire me to get my exercise gear on as well as eating lighter, fresher more colourful foods. Gone are the comforting carbs and their dowdy wheaten hues, enter in mounds of spritely summery veg. Dare I say it but I am even tempted away from the cake tin by the emergence of summer fruits. Oh how I love a succulent British strawberry and oh my, are the early arrivals turning out to be excellent this year already. However, I digress. We have tarts for tea to talk about…
Several years ago, I watched Rachel Allen’s TV series Bake. I loved every episode. Not only because it was filled with recipes of hers I really wanted to make immediately but also because each episode showcased the work of both up and coming baking stars and long-established baking legends. The girls behind my beloved Primrose Bakery, the two fabulous Davids of Outsider Tart, the cheeky chappy Gerhard Jenne of Konditor & Cook were all featured amongst others I don’t have time to wax lyrical about. Apart from Isadora Popovic of The Popina Bakery and her (in my opinion) innovative quiches using a light bread dough rather than rich, buttery and decadent shortcrust pastry.
As divine as the traditional may be, a summer dinner it is not and together with all the voluptuous savoury custard usually incorporating much heavy cream, it really isn’t for the calorie conscious. So I scaled down her recipe as you really don’t need as much as the original states and created a savoury summer tart which we could have for dinner one night after work, wrap up and take on a weekend picnic or freeze for when hunger strikes but the thought of standing stoveside for more than 5 minutes makes you want to scream.
If you’ve never made a quiche or savoury tart before you will be thrilled with how much more taste you get in making it yourself. Here, I make garlic mushrooms and used some feta which had been marinading in the fridge (covered in olive oil, oregano and chilli flakes and in a sterilised jar – mine never lasts more than a week as we eat it all!).
You’d think garlic and mushroom were rather heavy flavours for my hot-weather inspired meal but when you add in plump cherry tomatoes which burst upon biting and sizeable chunks of the salty, sharp goat and sheep milk Greek cheese all the flavours compliment rather than compete. Spring onions are great for giving that characteristic onion flavour but in a fresher, almost herby-chive-like manner. I love ’em so I put a ton in. That jade green colour is just so visually appealing too :D
To make the filling less heavy I like to use low-fat Greek yogurt and single cream with a higher egg proportion. Sounds a bit counterintuitive but the full-fat quiches will use a heap of double cream and far less egg to “set” the savoury custard. Now I do love me some double cream but when eaten in such a vast quantity, it takes the joy out of eating it – a spoon or two on top of a hot pudding-like apple pie is how I like to get my hit.
Using a bit more egg helps with the runnier, higher water content yogurt and single cream in getting it to set. I have also subbed the whole amount with reduced fat sour cream too – work out the calories if you must and see which sounds like the lesser of two evils! Then dig in and don’t give a damn because it’s so delicious, you can always go for a run when the sun goes down ;)
Hungry Hubby loves his with baked beans, I like mine with a fresh green salad. Which I put on his plate too so he *has* to eat them as he won’t leave food on his plate. The things you learn after almost 14 years together mwuahahaha ;) Also, we prefer to eat our quiches cold but I know the very idea of this makes others recoil in horror – please so feel free to snaffle it up as soon as it comes out of the oven.
I do have a real weakness for baked feta as you may see from my regular snaps of dinner on Facebook. It sneaks into a sometimes frightening amount of dishes! However you like to eat it, please do try it and tell me all about it. I love to hear how folk get on with my recipes so don’t be shy and leave me a comment. Fiddling with my recipes is wholeheartedly encouraged :D
- 180 g strong bread flour
- 1 medium egg
- Approx 60-75ml water
- 1 level tsp dried yeast
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 200-300 g baby button mushrooms
- 1 large clove of garlic minced
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 6 spring onions finely sliced
- 2 handfuls of cherry tomatoes approx 200-250g
- 150 g feta marinated feta is fabulous here
- 80 g greek yogurt low fat is fine
- 120 ml single or double cream
- 3 medium eggs
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1/4 tsp dried oregano
- Good grating of fresh nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp dried basil you may use fresh if dried horrifies you!
Make the pastry base by kneading all the dough ingredients together until smooth and not sticky – add a little more flour if it is sticky or all the water if too dry. Cover with a piece of cling film whilst you prepare the filling.
Heat the oil for the filling and add your mushrooms (leave them whole) and cook until they release their juices at which time, quickly stir in the garlic and spring onions. Follow with the fried thyme and oregano. Cook until the onions are softened, not browned. Put to once side to cool.
Roll out your pastry 2-3cm larger than your loose bottomed tart tin – mine is 23cm in diameter. Transfer to the tin and gently mould to the sides of the tin. Use your thumb to “cut” the excess pastry off against the rim of the tin.
Add the cooled vegetables then slice your cherry tomatoes in half and add them on top. Cube or tear up your feta as you like and scatter over the top too – try and insure the future slices will have an equal amount of all the filling main ingredients. It will look like there isn;t enough but don’t panic – the custard is coming! Albeit a savoury one…
Measure the yogurt, cream, eggs and nutmeg into a jug and whisk until well combined but not frothy. Pour over the vegetables and sprinkle with the dried basil, if using. I suggest using fresh on top after it is cooked if you have an aversion to dried herbs.
Bake in a preheated oven at 180°C for 30-35 mins until the filling is puffed up, browned in places and the pastry is shrinking away from the tin. It will puff up quite a bit with those three eggs.
Cool in the tin for 15 minutes then remove from the tin, slide off the base and then cool on a rack. Cut into portions and when completely cool, wrap well in cling film then foil if freezing. If not, wrap in cling film and it will keep in the fridge for 2 days. Return to room temp before eating or pop in a moderate oven to warm through if liked.