Back in September when I was in Alsace I had a delicious warm onion tarte as a starter to one of the best meals of my happy little life. (If you haven’t noticed before I adore the food in Alsace. Perfect blending of Germanic and French cuisine, yum!) Anyway, the idea of this tarte stayed with me. (It also served rather a neat purpose as apparently the quickest way to check for gallstones is to eat a cheese and onion pastie. I’ve had wracking abdominal pains all week and this could have been the answer but the tarte produced no ill effects so no gallstones, yay! But what is it? I have no idea!)
Anyway, illness aside, I had a poke around on the interweb and came across a recipe by Delia that I thought sounded promising. I’m sorry Delia, but you’re fired! If I had actually followed the recipe given my pastry would have collapsed, my filling would have been almost non-existant and it wouldn’t have been cooked through! I’m very glad that I can actually cook because if I didn’t know what I was doing and had trusted to the guidance of Delia then dinner would have been a disaster! As it was I managed to produce quite a nice tarte. I’ll be doing this again as a) the photography here was just terrible and b) I can make this so much better than it was. Make no mistake, this recipe is good but I know I can make it so much better!
Makes 1x20cm tarte (Serves 4)
For the pastry:
50g plain flour
50g self raising flour
pinch of salt
1/4 tsp mustard powder
40g orange cheddar, finely grated
1-2 tbsp chilled water
For the filling:
750g onions, finely sliced (about 5 regular sized onions) *
4 eggs, beaten *
150ml double cream
20g grated cheese
– First, make your pastry. In a medium sized bowl mix together the flours, salt and mustard powder.
– Cut up the butter into chunks then rub into the flour with your fingers until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs.
– Add the cheese and mix well to distribute it evenly.
– Sprinkle 1 tbsp the water evenly over the mixture, then mix together with your hand, adding more water gradually until the dough just comes together.
– Form the dough into a flat disc and wrap in clingfilm.
– Chill for 30 minutes in the fridge.
In the meantime make your filling:
– Slice the onions into long, thin strips.
– Melt the butter in a very large pan, the larger the bottom of the pan the better but to begin with you’ll need deep sides too.
– Add the onions to the butter and stir until lightly coated.
– Keep the onions over a medium heat for about 30 minutes. Stir frequently to stop them from catching on the bottom.
– Once the onions are well reduced and a deep golden brown turn the heat off.
Prepare your pastry crust:
– Preheat the oven to gas mark 5. Place a baking tray on a shelf in the middle.
– Grease a deep, loose-bottomed, 20cm cake or flan tin.
– Roll out your pastry on a lightly floured worksurface. You want to keep it as round in shape as possible so go gently so you’re more in control.
– When the pastry is about 2 mm thick then pick it up, by draping it over the rolling pin, and gently lay it over the prepared tin.
– Using your fingers, very gently ease the pastry into the tin, pressing any pleats or overlaps down to create a smooth pastry crust with no bubbles.
– Prick the base of the pastry lightly with a fork.
– Line the inside of the pastry with foil and fill to the top with baking beans.**
– Place on the hot baking tray in the centre of the oven for 20 minutes.
– Remove from the oven and carefully remove the beans and foil, you need to be careful not to make any holes in the pastry.
– Brush the inside of the pastry with a little of the beaten egg.
– Return to the oven for another 5 minutes.
– Mix together the cream and remaining beaten egg.
– Take out the pastry crust again and add the cooked onions.
– Spread out evenly over the bottom of the tarte.
– Pour over the cream/egg mix and mix a little with the onion to ensure even coverage.
– Sprinkle over the grated cheese.
– Return to the oven and turn up the temperature to gas mark 6. Cook for 45 minutes until the egg is set and the top goes a deep brown.
– Remove from the oven when cooked, run a knife around the edge and gently remove from the tin and place on a serving plate.
– Serve as you wish. I went for salad, cold meats and new potatoes but it would make an excellent picnic food if you wanted to eat it cold.
* Next time I will use more onions, at least 800g if not 850g. I will also use at least 6 eggs and probably more cream too to create a deeper, denser filling.
** Baking beans don’t have to be the expensive ceramic ones some cookware stores will flog you. And for this recipe you need rather a lot. We use plain old dried beans. You simply use them until they cremate themselves, which will take over 30 years. They will get darker and drier over time but that’s ok. They’re cheap and easy to replace.