Last week in the middle of packing up my flat (did I mention I’ve moved house?!) I decided, in my infinite wisdom, not only to arrange a visit to some friends who live over 30 miles away, I also decided that whipping up a caramel & walnut tart from scratch would be just the thing.
I think I’ve mentioned before that despite the name of my blog, baking is one of my least favourite forms of cooking, there’s not enough of a margin for error and once it’s in the oven all you can do is hope for the best. I’m especially bad with pastry, not the actual making of it, more the crafting of it, I can never roll it out evenly enough or in the right shape and then when I try to put in the dish/atop a pie, it cracks horribly and I end up getting really stressed and having to re-roll it.
Irrespective of all of these things, on Thursday evening I found myself embarking on the arduous task of making this rather fabulous tart. I need to point out that there are very few people in this world I would bake for in the most stressful week I’ve had this year, but Chloe and Dan are highly deserving recipients. Every time I go to visit, Dan, with Chloe’s assistance (although he would probably call it interference) absolutely outdoes himself when it come to cooking supper. My next post will actually be another guest spot talking about the AMAZING meal he made us on this visit. In the meantime this is what he made us last time.
For the pastry*
175g plain flour
Pinch of salt
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 large free range egg yolk
100g of unsalted butter, chilled and diced
1 tbsp icy water
*You can make the pastry with a food processor or by hand, I did mine by hand
For the filling
300g of walnut pieces
150g unsalted butter
100g caster sugar
1/4 tsp sea salt crystals/flakes
250ml double cream
- Sift the flour, salt and sugar into a large mixing bowl (mine was fairly shallow)
- Add the diced butter and rub into the flour mixture between the tips of your fingers.
- Continue to rub together until the butter disappears and the mixture looks sandy.
- Using a round-bladed knife stir in the egg yolk and water, then gently work the mixture with your hands until it comes together to make a ball of firm dough.
- Flatten into a thick disc*, wrap in clingfilm and chill for about 15 mins or until firm
*I didn’t read the recipe properly and just wrapped the ball in clingfilm without flattening it, this is probably partly why I had a nightmare with rolling it out and it cracked horribly when draping it over the tin.
- Roll out the dough on a lightly floured work top to a round about 30cm in diameter.
- Roll the pastry around the rolling pin, lift it over the flan tin (mine was a 25cm loose based flan one) and unroll to drape over the tin.
- Gently press the dough into the base and sides of the tin and roll the rolling pin across the top of the tin to cut off the excess pastry, then neaten the rim with your fingers.
- Prick the base with a fork and then chill the pastry case for 20 minutes while preheating the oven to 190.
- Line the pastry case with baking parchment or foil and then weight down with baking beans (I used dried lentils) to weigh it down and bake blind for 12-15 minutes or until lightly golden or just firm.
- Remove the beans and cook for another 5 minutes until crisp and golden (mine is a little overdone, I got distracted by something or other)
- Combine the walnuts, butter, sugar, salt and honey in a large, heavy frying pan (preferably non-stick)
- Set over a low heat and cook gently, stirring with a wooden spoon until the mixture turns a pale straw-gold colour.
- Stir in the cream and cook for another minute until bubbling.
- Set the pastry case, still in its tin, on a baking sheet and carefully pour in the very hot filling, making sure the case is evenly filled.
- Return to the oven and bake for about 15 minutes or until the nuts are a deep golden brown, then leave to cool before unmoulding.
- Serve warm, or at room temperature. I actually made mine the evening before and reheated gently the next day and it was delicious. You can serve with cream or ice-cream.