Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Hearts and Tarts

  The Queen of Hearts
    She made some tarts,
        All on a summer's day;
    The Knave of Hearts
    He stole those tarts,
        And took them clean away.
    The King of Hearts
    Called for the tarts,
        And beat the knave full sore;
    The Knave of Hearts
    Brought back the tarts,
        And vowed he'd steal no more.

W. W. Denslow (1901)
With the exception of reading this poem in Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, I never considered the gastronomic pleasures of the tart. In some cases, the words “pie” and “tart” overlap and blur: if it is a baked dish consisting of a filling over a pastry with an open top, it can be either without people batting an eyelash.

Ah, the beauty of food terminology.

I’ve made a few pies to share on Meals with Morri, the majority of which could be equally considered a tart; though in my upbringing "pie" is the more common term in the United States. So when the Gluten Free Ratio Rally was challenged to make tarts knaves and kings alike would want with their afternoon tea, I felt it was high time to make the distinction.

 It’s all about the crust, really. Pie crust, at least on MWM, falls in the flaky category, the one Michael Ruhlman wrote about in Ratio and Alton Brown gave awesome tips and tricks in making on Good Eats. There are literally clumps and bumps of fat left whole to create this amazing crunchy yet tender texture that beautifully pairs with the filling it holds. The tart crust, as I have come to understand, is usually a shortcrust pastry, similar in taste and texture to the shortbread cookie (Coincidence? I think not!). The binders (fat and liquid, and sometimes egg) are brought to room temperature, and care is given to make sure each and every flour granule is coated with fat. The result is a light and crumbly crust.

The one I chose to make was the pâte à foncer, a shortcrust pastry that includes egg. I wanted a flat crust that took center stage with a savory filling that was moist but not too wet. What I got was a crust that may have just become my go-to pastry for future tarts and pies. It crumbled, yes, but it didn't fall apart... VICTORY!

The ratio is quite simple (and rounded up): 5 parts flour, 3.75 parts fat, 1 part liquid, 1 egg yoke, and a little sugar (honey, in this instance).

Grain-free Pâte à foncer (ratio from Michel Suas's Advanced Bread and Pastry: A Professional Approach as discovered on The Second Lunch)
195 g Coconut flour
100 g Garbanzo bean flour
100 g Quinoa flour
148 g Salted butter, room temperature
148 g Coconut oil, room temperature
79 g Milk (I used Goat milk), room temperature
1 (16 g) Large egg yoke
6 g Honey

Allow butter, coconut oil, milk, and egg yolks to come up to room temperature. (Butter should be almost mayonnaise consistency.)
Soften the butter and mix with the paddle attachment on the electric mixer's medium-high speed.
Add the honey, yolk, and milk, and then slowly incorporate the flour.
Mix until just incorporated, and refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes to an hour.*

And now... the tart part!

Savory Onion Tart Squares with Pâte à foncer crust

28 g Salted butter
1 Large yellow onion, thinly sliced
3 Garlic cloves, finely chopped
20 ml White wine, adding more as needed
6 g Dried parsley
1 tsp. Dried tarragon
1 tsp. Dried thyme
1/4 tsp. Sea salt
1/4 tsp. Cracked pepper
122 g Pumpkin puree
1 Egg, yoke and white separated
Filtered water, for the egg wash
Prepared Pâte à foncer

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
In a large cast iron skillet on medium heat, melt the butter and stir in the wine.
When the mixture begins to brown slightly and become aromatic, add in the onion and garlic to cook for 25 – 30 minutes until caramelized (adding more white wine if it starts to stick at the bottom).
Stir in the spices and cook on low heat for another 5 minutes before turning off the heat and setting aside.
In a small bowl, combine the pumpkin puree and egg yoke and set aside.
On a large cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, roll out and flatten the dough into a rectangular shape with a thickness between 1/8 and 1/4 inches (remember: the thicker the crust, the wetter you will want a filling).**
Spread the pumpkin until it is about an inch from the edge of the crust, and then top it with the onion (at this point, if you want to add cheese such as Ricotta, Parmesan, Gruyere, or Swiss, go right ahead).
Combine the egg white and equal parts water for the egg wash and coat the edges using a pastry brush.
Bake for 25 – 30 minutes, or until the crust has browned slightly.
Remove from the oven and let it cool five minutes before cutting into squares.
Serve warm with a sauce accompaniment or as a side to a soup/stew.

Makes 9 – 16 servings.

*I found that chilling the dough over an hour made it difficult to spread out and rather dry. The next time I use this shortcrust recipe (and I will), I'm simply going to go from mixer to pan and see how it fares.
**I also want to use a wetter filling next time (maybe twice as much pumpkin or incorporate ricotta in this particular recipe). I do think this would be delicious with cooked apples with a caramel sauce, though.

Now, I wasn’t the only one who took on the challenge to make a gluten free tart. Charissa of the Zest Bakery was our marvelous host this month. As the name suggests, the Zest Bakery is "a passionate (and zesty!) bakery that strives to provide delicious, gluten-free foods and desserts in the Bay Area. To ensure there are no gluten-containing products present in the bakery or on our equipment, we built our bakery from scratch.”

That is devotion right there, with people who are sincere and passionate about the welfare of others. I now have a delicious reason to visit the Bay Area, if only to be inspired by what they do.

But really, the GFRR always inspires me. See for yourself why…

Charissa | Zest Bakery    Cheddar Apple Tart   
Karen | Cooking Gluten Free!    Plum Tart (dairy and egg free)   
Paula | Gapey's Grub    Sugar Free Pear Tart   
TR | No One Likes Crumbley Cookies    Pumpkin Tart   
Sihi | Wandering Ladle    Banana-Pomogranate in Gluten Free Vegan Chocolate Tart Shells   
Heather | Discovering the Extraordinary    No-Bake Mini Pumpkin Tarts (grain free)   
Pete and Kelli | No Gluten, No Problem    Spiced Cider-Poached Cinnamon Apple Tart   
Jonathan | The Canary Files    Vegan Cardamom Cashew Cream & Fig Tartlettes   
Mary Fran | FrannyCakes    Savory Sweet Potato tart  
Caneel | Mama Me Gluten Free    Pecan Tollhouse Tarts   
Morri (me!) | Meals with Morri    Savory Onion Tart Squares with Pâte à foncer crust (grain free) 
Jean Layton | Gluten Free Doctor    Nectarine Rose Tart (dairy-free crust)     
Claire Berman | This Gluten-Free Life    Fresh Summer Sweet Tomato Tart  


  1. Yum! It's definitely the season for a lil pumpkin! Thank you for using it in not just a tart, but a savory tart! The filling sounds fab. Thanks for participating in the tart challenge!

  2. This looks delicious! What a meal this would make!

  3. This is dinner tonight with a salad---done!

  4. Mmmmmm - this would be perfect on a cool autumn night, Morri. Would be a great main course and I could bring my tartlettes for dessert. :) And the poem was a clever touch - well played, my friend.