Recipe and photograph courtesy King Arthur Flour, www.KingArthurFlour.com (1-800-827-6836)
2 cups King Arthur All-Purpose Flour
½ cup cream cheese
½ to ¾ teaspoon salt*
2 tablespoons buttermilk powder, optional (may be purchased from King Arthur Flour, www.kingarthurflour.com)
10 tablespoons cold butter
3 to 4 tablespoons ice water
*Use the lesser amount of salt if you use salted butter
Filling for large tarts**
6 large eggs, beaten
1½ cups milk
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon salt
2 medium tomatoes, sliced in ¼-inch thick slices
**To make one large tart rather than two, simply halve all of the ingredients
Filling for small tarts
32 cherry or grape tomatoes
1 cup shredded cheese, blue cheese or Cheddar***
To make the crust: Put the flour in a bowl, or in the work bowl of a food processor. Add the cream cheese, salt and buttermilk powder. Mix together until everything is evenly crumbly. If you’re using a food processor, just a few quick pulses are all you’ll need. Cut the cold butter into pieces and work it into the flour, leaving some visible pieces. Sprinkle the dough with the cold water and toss. Squeeze the dough to determine if it holds together. If it’s too dry, add water 1 tablespoon at a time, using just enough so the dough will hold together. Divide the dough in half, to make two 9-inch tarts. Or, divide it in eight pieces, to make eight (4½ -inch) tarts. Or make one full-sized tart and four small tarts.
Flatten each piece of dough into a disk, wrap well, and refrigerate for 30 minutes or longer.
If you’re making two large tarts: Roll each piece of dough to a 12-inch diameter.
For small tarts: Roll each piece to a 5½-inch to 6-inch diameter.
Gently place the rolled-out pastry in the tart pan, smoothing it over the bottom and tucking it into the sides. Roll your rolling pin across the top of the pan to cut off the excess pastry. Peel the pastry away from the edge of the pan. You can bake these trimmings along with the tarts, for a crunchy/flaky snack.
If you’re making small tarts: Prick the bottom crust all over with a fork. Bake them in a preheated 350°F oven for 10 minutes; they’ll probably puff up a bit, despite the pricking; and their sides will slide down the edges of the pan. That’s OK.
Remove the tarts from the oven, and set aside while you make the filling.
If you’re making two 9-inch tarts: Refrigerate the crusts while you prepare the filling.
To fill the mini tarts: Place about 8 cherry tomato halves in the bottom of each tart shell. Sprinkle each tart with 2 tablespoons of your favorite shredded cheese; we like a combination of blue cheese and cheddar.
Bake the tarts in a preheated 425-degree oven for about 20 minutes, until their crusts are brown and the cheese is melted. Remove from the oven, and serve warm, or at room temperature.
To fill the standard tarts: Whisk together the eggs, milk, cheese, herbs, and salt. Divide the mixture between the two chilled shells. Lay the sliced tomatoes on top. Bake in a preheated 425-degree oven for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, until the crust is brown and the custard is set. Remove from the oven, and serve warm.
Yield: 2 large or 8 small tarts.
***Kitchen Ade Note: In case you’re wondering, blue cheese will melt – around the mold.