JOANNA'S FOOD: family cooking, from scratch, every day

Monday, September 10, 2007

Butter-less pastry - & a fruit tart

This pastry is a revelation ... and, for those of you who think pastry can only be made with butter: this is a French recipe, a proper recipe. There are egg yolks and oil, so it's still not something to eat every day, but this is a real breakthrough for those who can no longer eat butter. And for those people who think that our low-cholesterol way of eating is somehow second best - this is really delicious and worth a try in its own right. Also, if you're not a natural pastry chef - and I never was - this is quick and easy, a definite improvement on bought shortcrust. All the virtues, then.

The recipe was discovered by clever Anna, in Geraldene Holt's French Country Kitchen, one of my most favourite of all cookery books. I've cooked and cooked from this book (but stupidly failed to spot this pastry), more than any other I own, I should think, and I've never been able to understand why Geraldene Holt isn't better known: she's at least as good as Jane Grigson, and considerably better than a whole host of well-regarded food writers. She writes out of real experience - in this book, her many years of summer living in France.

This recipe for shaken hot-water pastry comes from Mme Chalendar, who, GH notes, sells earthenware and stoneware kitchen pots in Lamastre.

225g flour
1 tbsp caster sugar (leave it out if you're making something savoury)
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
4 tbsp mild salad oil
1/2 beaten egg
3 tbsp hot water

Put all the ingredients into a lidded plastic box and shake it for at least a minute. When you take off the lid, you will find a lumpy mixture; form it into a ball with your hands, and roll it out on a floured surface. GH says this is enough for a 24cm tin, but I have made this a number of times, and find that it is enough for a larger tin, and rather too much for a 24cm tin, because the pastry is better when it is very thin. You can use this straight away, no need to rest it.

Plum tart

If you are making a fruit tart, here's another trick, and I'm not sure if it come from Mme Chalendar or GH: mix 20g flour with 20g sugar and sprinkle it over the pastry base. Then add the stoned fruit halves (raw). The flour and sugar mix will effortlessly thicken the fruit juices to make a delicious sauce.

This tart needs 30-35 minutes in a moderate oven, 190C. When it's done, glaze the fruit with a little melted jam - I used the rose petal jelly I made last month, but anything would do, even a little sugar syrup if there's no jam in the house (especially if you have vanilla- or lavender-flavoured sugar). The first time we made this, we forgot all about glazing it in our excitement - it's the one in the photographs, so you can judge for yourself whether it's worth the bother, because glazing is fundamentally a cosmetic exercise. We didn't bother with the flour and sugar that first time, which was a mistake, as I think you can see in the photograph.

We ate this tart by candlelight in the garden. It's quick and easy, the sort of food you can cook ahead, either for a party or just because you feel like it.

This is my entry for this month's Heart of the Matter ... fruit and berries is the theme for September ... and Ilva at Lucullian Delights is hosting. The idea is to build a bank of heart-friendly recipes on the Heart of the Matter website, a resource for everyone to use, and one which would have been very useful to me in the days after my husband's heart attack. There's more information about how to submit here, and some guidance for those of you worried about heart-healthy eating.


Figs, Bay, Wine said...

Joanna, what a fabulous recipe to have! I will absolutely use this in place of short crust next time. It's great to have a way to skip all that butter. Beautiful plum tart too.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Positively a brilliant pastry. If I don't get distracted I'll give it a try. The plums look fabulous!

Celia Hart said...

What a good recipe - will definitely try that pastry.
That plum tart looks absolutely delicious - what a fantastic colour!


Amanda at Little Foodies said...

The pastry sounds great. The plum tart looks beautiful and glazing with your rose petal jelly sounds really good.

Anonymous said...

I'm really glad you posted this Joanna - I never make pastry because it always seems so fatty so I'll definitely give this a try! The other half will be exceptionally pleased as I never make him anything with pastry :-)

I love the flour/sugar/fruit trick, so effortless!

Parisbreakfasts said...

This looks and sounds delish!
but here's a fruity dessert that has no pastry at all and can be quite satisfying, especially with a bit of yogurt on top.
I found this on FLickr
Bakes Peaches and Blueberries
Of course you could use plumbs instead :)

Anh said...

Beautiful, beautiful recipe!

Karen Baking Soda said...

I really should learn to read! Tried it right after I speed read your post; shell would have been a lot better if I added baking powder.... Ooops!

Joanna said...

The first time we made this, we left out the hot water ... I think the reason for making these mistakes is because it's so very surprising and different from "normal" ways to make pastry. But it's worth perservering, because it's good, as well as butter-free


Katie Zeller said...

To my mother's dismay I have never made a short crust. This I will try...simple enought that even I should be able to not screw it up....

Simona Carini said...

I am totally intrigued by the butter-less crust and I will try to make it. Thanks.

Christine said...

I love the ingredients for this crust and will try it this weekend. Thanks Joanna!

Anonymous said...

Fabulous pastry!!! I just made it now for an egg and bacon pie...I didn't have enough butter for a regular shortcrust. It worked absolutely perfectly and I am no chef! Delicious and so light. The thing I liked best about it, was how easy it was to roll out didn't tear or stick to the benchtop like shortcrust does! Thank you Joanna!

Heidi, Australia.

Cecelia said...

You have no idea how relieved I am to have found a butterless pastry that is proven to work. And you have lovely photos! I'm making a black cherry tart for a party and forgot that I'd run out of butter - so this is a lifesaver.
I'm an American, though, and will have to do all the conversions for measurements and temperatures...hope I get it right!