by Dominic Franks from DomInTheKitchen.com @DomInTheKitchen
This asparagus tart is a simple celebration of the humble asparagus season, which is in full swing right now. I’ve always adored the stuff and can remember being served it as a kid and being told how special it was. We revelled it. It was also one of those incredible foods that you were allowed to eat with your fingers - encouraged to, in fact! Dipping it in melted butter which inevitably dripped down your chin - bliss.
For me, the best way to eat it is simply steamed until just tender and then drizzled with butter or garlic butter but this tart with its simple cheesy herby filling comes in a close second.
Kitchen Tools Needed: Cole & Mason Cambridge 20 Jar Herb & Spice Rack Carousel
Cooking Time: 20mins
Serves: 4+ (Makes roughly 6 fluffy pancakes – 2 red, 2 green and 2 yellow)
For the pastry
- 260g butter – grated and then frozen (I always use lightly salted butter)
- 2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 350g cold plain flour (pop it in the freezer the night before you want to make this)
- roughly 150ml ice cold water mixed with a teaspoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice
For the filling
- roughly 8 asparagus spears – if they’re thick, cut them lengthways
- 1 x 125g portion garlic & herb cream cheese (Such as Boursin.)
- one tablespoon Greek yoghurt
- 1 x large free-range egg
- salt and pepper
- dried, oregano, thyme
Start with the pastry. Place the flour and garlic powder into a large bowl and using your fingertips, quickly rub in 60g of the butter, then add the water / lemon juice mix a tablespoon at a time.
You can stir this with a wooden spoon, but I like to use my hand, shaped like a claw as I can feel the flour and water begin to form the dough, so I know how much liquid to add. You want to add enough liquid to form a firm dough that isn’t too tacky.
Knead the dough for a couple of minutes then wrap in clingfilm and pop in the fridge for about 10 minutes.
Flour your work surface and roll the dough out into a long rectangle with the short side nearest you, then sprinkle the bottom 2/3rds of the rectangle with half the grated frozen butter. Push it down into the dough slightly.
Fold over the top un-buttered third towards you and then fold the bottom third back over the top so that you have created 6 layers of dough/butter/dough/butter/dough/butter.
Turn the dough 90 degrees and roll it out again into a rectangle and repeat the above with the remaining butter. Roll it out again after this and fold, then wrap and refrigerate for a good hour.
Repeat the roll and fold process again three more times but don’t worry about refrigerating the dough between each fold. If you work fast, you really won’t need to.
After the fifth roll and fold, wrap it and pop it into the fridge for at least an hour before using.
Meanwhile make the ‘filling’ by beating the egg, cream cheese, yoghurt and seasoning together to form a loose paste.
When ready, pre-heat your oven to 170C and line a large baking sheet.
Roll out your pastry to fill the baking sheet – don’t worry too much about it being perfectly square. Score a line around the pastry sheet 1cm in from the edge.
Pour the filling into the scored area and spread it out, then lay the asparagus on top.
Bake for 25-35 minutes or until the edges have risen and are nicely golden.
You can make the rough-puff pastry up to a month ahead as it stores well in the freezer. Just be sure to take it out to defrost the night before you want to use it.
You can also use a sheet of ready-made puff pastry which is much easier but not quite as rewarding!