Half win, half fail…

pastry finished close up

And so, my quest of producing edible pastry continues.  I made this wee tart last Friday night following the same pastry recipe that worked for me last time.

Pastry is peculiar.  In fact, it’s about as peculiar as my insistence on trying to master it when I can buy perfectly acceptable ready to roll stuff in the shops.

Although I followed the same recipe as last time, my second batch of home-made pastry was quite a different animal.  It seems that if you change just the slightest thing – for example, the temperature of the butter or water – you end up with a different outcome.

I’m not at all comfortable with this level of uncertainty.

This week’s pastry was very crumbly again, but also it was realllly buttery and greasy.  It actually made me feel a bit ill.  Was it perhaps the oil from the pesto topping or was it something that I did wrong in the pastry process?

pastry finished close up crumbly

I have my eye on another savoury tart recipe which has an entirely different pastry recipe so I’m determined to find the perfect pastry before my quest is deemed as an official ‘Win’.

This Tomato and Pesto Tart is another recipe from BBC Good Food, which has been my major go-see for recipes these days.  I should rename the blog I Can Has BBC? at this stage.

Obviously, the sensible thing would be to follow this recipe exactly, as it suggests using ready-to-roll pastry, rather than faffing around with your own home-made stuff.  I’m not sure why I’m being so obstinate about this whole pastry thing.  It doesn’t make any sense.

This tart is supposed to be a really quick snack, but making my own pastry took me around 3 hours again.  It was stress free this time, that’s for sure, but it was still time-consuming.

Here’s the pastry recipe I used, which produces very crumbly, almost biscuity pastry.  Not really worth the 3 hours it took in the making.

BBC Good Food’s Tomato and Pesto Tart with The Guardian’s Pastry

For the pastry

175g plain flour

1 tsp caster sugar

pinch of salt

125g cold unsalted butter, diced

3 tbsp of very cold water (put a glass in the fridge so it’s really cold)

Make your pastry by processing the flour, sugar and salt.  Add the butter – I added it a bit at a time as I was nervous – and pulse until it looks like fine breadcrumbs.  Tip into a big bowl and add the very cold water.  Add your water a little at a time until the mixture turns into dough.

Wrap the pastry ball up in clingfilm and pop it in the fridge for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, take out your pastry ball and roll it out on a floured surface.  I flattened it with my hands mostly as I was afraid of it crumbling all over the place.

I cut my pastry into smallish square tart shapes and made borders with the spare pastry.  I also poked it all over with a fork.

pastry uncooked

I made two but you could easily get four decent sized tarts from this amount of pastry.  I put them on a greased baking sheet and put them back in the fridge for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 200 degrees C and after 15 minutes in the fridge, pop in your chilled pastry.  Let them bake for 10 – 15 minutes, until golden brown.

*For this recipe, because the tomatoes need to cook, it probably would have been better to perhaps skip the last step of pre-baking, or maybe only bake the pastry for 5 minutes.  With mine, I couldn’t cook the tomatoes as much as I wanted to because the pastry was going to burn.*

Now for your tart toppings:

6-8 vine tomatoes, thinly sliced (you can get lovely ones now as they are in season)

2 tbsp mascarpone (or thereabouts)

4 tbsp delicious green pesto

Once the pastry bases are ready, you can spoon your pesto like butter on your pastry.

pastry with pesto

Next put a few blobs of mascarpone around the place.

pastry with pesto and mascarpone

Layer your tomatoes on top.  Finally, season with salt and pepper, and if you have some to hand, sprinkle with a few chopped herbs (I used fresh sage and oregano).

pastry with pesto mascarpone and toms

Pop the tarts in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the tomatoes are lovely and cooked.  Mind you don’t burn your pastry!

last pastry pic

Nice topping – shame about the crumbly, greasy, time-consuming bleedin’ pastry.

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  1. I agree completely … BBC Good Food site is a pretty good and I love the tips/comments left by readers. Your tommytoe tart looks like it should be on my plate for lunch!

  2. Hi Gillian – BBC Good Food rocks. And the comments are definitely really useful as you can see if the recipe needs tweaking or what have you. I used this recipe last night – perfect Monday night fodder, so easy to make and really comforting too!

  3. Oh I must try that – sausages … good.

    I love the Chicken StirFrys

    And have just come across chocolate biscotti … hmmm coffee and biscotti

  4. Re: Pastry….

    I remember working in the NY/CT area, in restaurants both good and otherwise, and hearing a great deal of debate among pizza chefs as to the “right” way to make the dough. In fact, some of them have claimed that there’s little you can actually DO to make it good or bad; that it’s a case of things beyond your control, such as hard or soft water, the humidity and temperature of the area you’re in, altitude, etc.

    Don’t give up, certainly! I think learning about how the stuff you’re working with reacts with the conditions you’re working in may grant you really important insights into how to get the best results. But what a pain! Pastry is the Everest I’m holding off climbing until I’m retired from other pursuits.


  5. Hey Ben – good advice there, for sure. I’m definitely not going to be giving up but I may need to try out a few more pastry techniques til I find what I’m looking for. Damn, I sound like Bono.

    I’m definitely not giving up though – my next project is a beef and guinness pie. There are some benefits to winter, and that’s guilt-free comfort food. Nom!!