The Great British Baking Show makes it look easy.
But actually it’s really hard and you need to not only follow the recipe but also have some intuition and knowledge of what you are doing. I came close, but in the end, one fatal error led to a tart with gooey, inedible pastry instead of a perfectly flaky and delicious crust. My mistake? I didn’t blind bake it long enough.
Aside from that, this would’ve been a pretty okay tart! I intended on making a lemon ricotta tart with a shortcrust pastry that was done by hand.
The parts of the crust that was cooked weren’t bad, a little bland, but the filling was really good and I highly recommend giving it a try despite my failures. You can find a full list of ingredients for the crust and filling here.
Making the dough
Have you ever seen pasta being made by hand or done it yourself? Making shortcrust dough by hand is essentially the same process (just with more butter). You start with your flour on a countertop, make a well, and deposit your eggs, water, and butter into the center.
Much like making pasta by hand, the goal is to slowly incorporate the flour into your wet ingredients. If you do it too quickly or severely, the well will break open and you’ll have egg running all over the countertop (this happened to me and for about 10 seconds I was very panicked until I regained my mixture and used a bench scraper).
The point of doing this is to fully incorporate the butter into everything in place of a food processor, so you really need to use your hands and squeeze the butter and flour together as the dough forms. I used this video for reference, but you can see how the process unfolded via pictures below:
In total, kneading the dough until it was ready to be divided in half (I doubled the recipe) took about 5-7 minutes. It was super fun to handle the dough and I felt extremely accomplished when I put it in the fridge to rest for 2-3 hours.
Rolling, Placing, and Blind Baking
So… I had this part pretty under control until the blind baking part. Once the dough had chilled properly, I rolled it out to be about ⅜ of an inch thick. It’s not always easy to tell, so just roll it out to be larger than whatever tart pan you are putting this in to.
Once it is rolled out, there are many methods to get it into the tart pan. I went with the loosely-roll-it-back-onto-the-rolling-pin method and had success. When you get it onto the pan, be sure to lift it into the corners gently before pressing. If you don’t, you could accidentally puncture your crust.
When I got to the blind baking part of this, I was completely unprepared. I assumed we had some rice on hand to use as a baking weight, but we didn’t so I ended up improvising with some small pot lids and extra foil.
The tart goes into a 325-degree oven to blind bake for... I genuinely don’t know how long. The recipe I took from said 20 minutes, but that wasn’t enough. I’d say it needed another five to ten minutes easy but in this case, I defer to any recipe that calls for the crust to be baked longer than 20 minutes.
Making the filling
The filling turned out pretty okay from all of this. Originally, I was going to make my own ricotta cheese at home via J. Kenji Lopez-Alt’s recipe but I decided I didn’t want to bite off more than I could chew with this project. I would probably add more lemon juice and/or zest the next time I attempted this, but the end result was a near-cheesecake like consistency.
Almost like making cookies — you need to cream your sugar, cinnamon, and cream cheese together until they are light and fluffy. After about two minutes, you should be at that point and ready to add the rest of your ingredients and fully incorporate them until smooth and pourable.
Cooking the Tart
This part should be the easiest, at least in theory. Pour your batter into the center of the crust (it doesn’t matter if it is still hot) and let it bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 30-35 minutes or until the filling is set and the center has a slight wobble to it.
Like I said, I messed up the blind baking part and it was essentially ruined. There was no way of re-baking it without ruining the filling, so I was unfortunately out of luck with this project but I know now that I need to blind bake the tart FULLY before adding the filling.