Its been eons since I have posted. What between shifting homes and countries, life has been one long transit! R’s company decided to move him to Cairo but we ended up being in Dubai courtesy the Egyptian revolution.
It took our stuff 4 months to reach, by which time most of my clothes were musty, and some of my kitchen ware was rusted. I guess that is not too surprising given that the stuff was packed waiting to be shipped for 4 long months during the monsoon.
To cut a long story short, now in Dubai, well settled in, and, back to cooking! Though I seem to derive significantly more pleasure out of baking than cooking. Needless to say, it’s a lot worse for my waistline than cooking is, sigh!
Have people over for dinner tonight, and am baking a jam and ricotta tart. Should have ideally been stewed fruit, but didn’t have the car, no berries, so decided to make do with jam instead. It didn’t come out too bad!
300 gms all purpose flour
150 gms butter or margarine cubed
75 gm icing sugar
2 eggs beaten separately
150 gms ricotta cheese, beaten well and flavoured with 2 tbsp of icing sugar
200-225 gms of good quality pulpy jam either strawberry, raspberry or blueberry
Making the short crust pastry
In the mixer bowl of a food processor, mix the flour and icing sugar. Add the butter cubes and whizz the mix till it resembles coarse bread crumbs. Add one beaten egg, give a couple of whizzes, and check the dough. It should be soft to touch, a little, not too much, pliable and not stiff. Add a lil bit of the second beaten egg, check dough again. You may need to add half an egg more, but very unlikely any more than that. Too much egg will make the dough very loose, it will fall apart and hold the tart together and when you bake, it will crisp to a biscuit! Keep aside the remaining egg, you will needit later for glazing the tart.
(Not posting photos cos the process is the same as making tartlets except that this recipe adds icing sugar cos its a sweet tart).
Remove the dough from the mixer, knead it so that it comes together, cover with cling wrap and leave it in the fridge for 20 mins to rest.
Lining the tart tin
Oil the tart tin well to ensure that the baked tart does not stick to the tin and comes out easily.
Roll the dough out into a circle till its about 2-3 inches larger than the base of the tart.
Drape the rolled dough on a rolling pin and lay it out on the tart base. Push the dough against the wall of the tin and then press the edge to cut off the excess dough so that the rolled dough neatly lines the base of the tart. Roll up the excess pastry and keep it in the fridge till you need it again.
Adding the filling
Take the ricotta cheese, beat it well with a whisk or a fork and add 2 tablespoons of icing sugar and then line the above tart case with an even layer of the sweetened ricotta.
Take the jam in a bowl, beat it with a whisk and then pour it above the ricotta layer, again spreading it evenly.
Making the lattice
Now take out the excess pastry from the fridge and roll it out into a large circle slightly larger than the tart tin. Cut it into thin strips.
Dip your pastry brush in the remaining beaten egg, and, brush the edges of the lined pastry in the tart.
Now lift a strip and lay it across the tart, then pick the next one and lay it at right angles to this one. Similarly keep picking up one strip at a time and keep alternating laying them vertically and horizontally. The edges of the strips will overhang the edge of the tart tin.
Continue to alternate the strips till the entire tart is covered. Then press the edges of the strips against the pastry base to seal the strips into the pastry base. Press your fingers along the edge of the tart tin to cut off the excess pieces of the strips to obtain a perfect lattice.
Baking the tart
Preheat the oven to 180 degree. Brush the top of the lattice tart with the beaten egg.
When the preheat is completed or about 5-6 minutes in a gas oven, place the tart in the centre of the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes.
When 30-35 minutes are over, take the tart out of the oven, put it in a wire rack and allow it to cool. It will still cook some courtesy its own heat even after you take it out.
When ready to serve, heat it in a micro or keep it in a warm oven 15 mins before serving. Serve with pouring consistency custard!
Important: Its important to use good quality jam. Poor quality or smooth jams ( jams without any visible fruit lumps) tend to melt to liquid while baking and spill out of the tart. The sugar in the melted jam coats the lattice and tends to caramalise making the pastry extremely hard.
Vegetarian version: You can use chilled water instead of the egg while making the shortcrust pastry. For glazing and sealing the strips to the edges of the base, you can use milk.