Puff pastry recipes | Nigel Slater

Tright here is never a lot within the freezer. Espresso beans, a bath of vanilla ice cream and one other of Italian lemon sorbet (I combine them, attempt it), blackcurrants for yogurt smoothies, a bag of damsons for breakfast compotes, some frozen peas and a packet of emergency crumpets. And one other factor: a sheet of all-butter puff pastry. Pastry that I thaw and roll as thinly as I dare, scatter with nuggets of crisp pancetta, butter-softened shallots, a grating of parmesan or fontina and some sprigs of thyme, then bake till the sides are puffed and golden. A tart I can slide straight on to a wood board and convey out for lunch.

Deep tarts, these blind-baked pastry circumstances stuffed with deep and quivering savoury custard, onions and lardons of bacon, are all properly and good once I’m within the temper to bake, however they’re one thing of a efficiency compared to the convenience of a puff pastry tart. Each have their place in my kitchen, however the parchment-thin puff pastry model is the one I make most frequently, little question because of the truth I’ve a lot of the components virtually completely at hand.

Although tempting, it’s a mistake to load up the pastry with thick layers of cheese and greens. The delight of such baking is that it’s gentle and crisp, qualities that you simply danger dropping with too heavy or wealthy a filling. The time spent within the oven is brief, so bacon, mushrooms and the like ought to be cooked briefly first, then scattered over the uncooked pastry simply earlier than baking.

This week I made candy tarts, too. Banana pastries, baked twice, as soon as to cook dinner them to a crisp honey gold and, secondly, so as to add a sticky maple syrup glaze. We want not cease at bananas; skinny slices of poached apricots (even these from a tin) are price contemplating, as can be a handful of blueberries. Virtually price having a freezer for.

Pancetta, thyme and fontina tart

You’ll be able to add different components right here. A couple of mushrooms, sliced thinly and sautéed with butter, garlic leaves and thyme are a risk, as are skinny slices of cherry tomato, basil oil and spring onion. Cheese is greatest added in small quantities and finely grated, in any other case you may as properly make pizza.
Makes 2 skinny tarts

pancetta 250g, in a single piece
olive oil 5 tbsp
shallots 250g
thyme 20 small sprigs
fontina 250g
puff pastry 250g

Set the oven at 220C/gasoline mark eight. Take away any thick pores and skin from the pancetta and reduce the meat into small cube, with no items bigger than zero.5cm. Pour the olive oil in a shallow pan, place the discarded pancetta pores and skin within the oil – its fats will enrich the oil – and heat gently. Peel and halve the shallots then cube finely and add to the pan along with the cubed pancetta.

Because the shallot softens and the pancetta sizzles, stir repeatedly, shifting all the pieces around the pan sometimes. Add the leaves from half of the thyme.

Coarsely grate the fontina. Reduce the pastry in half and roll out every sheet to a rectangle measuring 32cm x 20cm. Place an empty baking sheet within the oven. Line a second baking sheet with baking parchment.

Lay the pastry on the baking parchment. Divide the grated cheese between the pastry sheets, scattering it evenly over all however the outer rim of the pastry. Scatter the softened shallots and the pancetta and its fats over the pastry, discarding the pancetta pores and skin as you go. Add the remaining sprigs of thyme then place the baking sheet on prime of the new sheet already within the oven.

Bake for 15 minutes until the pastry is crisp and calmly risen, then take away from the oven and reduce into vast slices.

Banana tarts

Golden wonders: banana tarts. : Jonathan Lovekin/The Observer

The thinnest of tarts. It’s price rolling the pastry as finely as you possibly can. Strive putting the pastry on the baking sheet earlier than including the bananas. It makes life a lot simpler than transferring them totally laden.
Makes four

butter 40g
puff pastry 125g
bananas 2
icing sugar 2 tbsp
maple syrup four tbsp

For the cardamom cream:
inexperienced cardamom pods 10
double cream 250ml
icing sugar 1 tbsp
vanilla extract

Set the oven at 220C/gasoline mark eight. Place a baking sheet within the oven to warmth up.

Soften the butter in a small pan, take away from the warmth and put aside. Roll out the pastry very thinly, then reduce out four discs about 12cm in diameter. Place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Peel the bananas and slice thinly, then place in a single, barely overlapping layer on every disc. Brush the bananas and the edges of the pastry with the butter then mud generously with the icing sugar.

Place the baking sheet on the heated sheet within the oven and bake for 12 minutes. Take away from the oven then trickle the maple syrup over the bananas and return to the oven for five minutes till the pastry is deep golden brown and the fruit is sticky and glistening.

In the meantime, make the cream. Crack open the cardamom pods and extract the darkish seeds, then crush to a powder utilizing a spice mill or pestle and mortar. You want 2 tsp of the bottom spice. Pour the cream into a chilly mixing bowl and add the icing sugar, floor cardamom and a few drops of vanilla extract. Beat until thick, stopping as soon as the cream will maintain its form on the whisk.

Serve the tarts sizzling from the oven, with the cardamom cream.

Electronic mail Nigel at nigel.slater@observer.co.uk or observe him on Twitter@NigelSlater

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