Puff Pastry Caprese Tart

Puff pastry is time-consuming to make, but the homemade version is infinitely better than anything you can buy. You’ll need to set aside most of a day to allow for all the resting time in between the rolling and folding, but a big plus is that puff pastry freezes well; just make sure you defrost it thoroughly (overnight, in the fridge) before using. This recipe makes more pastry than is required for any of the recipes, so you’ll definitely have enough for a second, or even a third, dish.

 

Makes ± 1.2 kg puff pastry

Preparing the butter

450 g salted butter, at room temperature, grated

115 g white bread flour

15 ml freshly squeezed

lemon juice

Making the dough

200 g cake flour

200 g white bread flour

50 g cold salted butter, cut into small blocks

250 ml iced water

15 ml freshly squeezed

lemon juice

5 ml fine salt

Preparing the butter

1          Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl, working the flour into the butter with a wooden spoon or your hands.

2          Turn the mixture out onto a work surface and shape into a block (± 10 x 10 cm).

3          Wrap tightly in clingfilm and place in the fridge until the butter is chilled

and firm, but not hard. (You can do this ahead of time, but remember to take the butter mixture out of the fridge a few minutes before you need it, so it is not rock hard.)

Making the dough

1          Sift the cake flour and white bread flour together.

2          Add the blocks of butter, working them in with your fingertips until the texture resembles breadcrumbs.

3          Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and pour in the iced water, lemon juice and salt.

4          Using your fingers, work the ingredients into a dough, trying to knead as little as possible. Shape the dough into a ball, wrap tightly in clingfilm, and place in the fridge for an hour or two, to get firm and cold.

 

Making the pastry

1          Take the ball of chilled dough out of the fridge. Remove the clingfilm. Flatten the dough slightly and score an ‘X’ on top. Roll out the four ‘arms’ of the cross, making sure the centre of the dough is about four times thicker than the arms, and about the same size as the butter-flour block resting in the fridge.

2          Place the chilled butter-flour block in the centre of the dough (if it doesn’t fit, roll the dough out some more). Fold each arm of dough in turn back over the butter, to enclose it, pressing down lightly to make a snug fit.

3          Flour your working surface well. Roll the dough into a rectangle (roll up and down only, keeping to the same direction). Lightly mark the rectangle into horizontal thirds. Fold the bottom third of the dough upwards and fold the top third down to meet the lower edge (as if making an envelope).

4          Give the dough a quarter turn, so the closed side is on the left (like the spine of a book). This completes one fold. Mark the edge with a single finger indentation (this will remind you how many ‘fold-and-turn’ steps you have completed). Wrap the dough tightly in clingfilm and place it in the fridge

to rest for at least 30 minutes, or until cold.

5          Repeat the rolling, folding and resting process five more times (for a total

of six ‘folds’), marking the appropriate number of finger indentations on each fold, to help you keep track. After the final 30-minute resting period, the pastry is ready to be used in a recipe. At this point, you can leave the pastry in the fridge overnight, or even for a few days. If you only need a portion of the pastry for a recipe, divide it and freeze whatever you don’t need. Remember to defrost frozen pastry thoroughly before using in a recipe, preferably overnight in the fridge.

 

We use bread flour in puff pastry because it provides the gluten structure

needed to form  a strong dough that is able to trap the water

vapour that forms during the baking process.

 

Puff pastry caprese tart

Makes 1 tart

Puff pastry case

400 g puff pastry (see page 104)

Basil pesto

35 g fresh basil

30 g salted butter

125 ml olive oil

2–3 cloves garlic

50 g Parmesan or pecorino cheese, finely grated

50 g pine nuts (pine kernels)

or flaked almonds (see Note on opposite page)

salt and freshly ground

black pepper, to taste

 

Caprese tart

10 ml salted butter

24 cherry tomatoes, halved

pinch flaked salt

2 sprigs fresh rosemary, finely chopped

splash balsamic vinegar

20–30 thin slices mozzarella cheese

40 ml basil pesto

4 sundried tomatoes, soaked in boiling water and sliced

2 buffalo mozzarella balls, torn into bite-sized pieces

To serve

fresh basil or rocket leaves

olive oil

balsamic vinegar

salt and freshly ground

black pepper, to taste

Puff pastry case

1          Grease a 12 × 34 cm rectangular tart tin. Roll the pastry to fit the tin and press it in gently to cover the base and sides. Prick well with a fork. Place into the fridge for at least 30 minutes, to rest.

2          Blind-bake (see page 168) the pastry case in a preheated oven at 200ºC for about 20 minutes, or until cooked. Set aside to cool before adding the filling.