This tart, my friends: this tart is the shizzle. I’ve made four of these in as many weeks and they have all been fabulous: quick, easy, adaptable and the best way I know to celebrate the swan song of tomato season. And yet, I can’t take any credit for it: the deceptively simple yet gorgeously flaky tart dough comes to us from France, via David Lebovitz (naturellement), with allium and fresh herb inspiration from Todd & Diane at White on Rice Couple. In fact, I hesitated to post this recipe at all, since it is well-represented on Ye Olde Interwebs, but I’ve been raving about this tart, and feeding it to friends, and everyone wants the recipe, and I found that my methods & ingredients differed just enough to be annoying to explain without a handy blog post at my beck and call.
The oh-so flaky and whole-wheat nutty pastry dough comes together in a snap with a grated stick of frozen butter and an egg taking place of some of the water in the dough (An egg! Who knew?). I like the rustic & easy fold-over technique, but you can easily fit the dough into a tart pan, or even just bake it flat on a pizza stone if you like: it’s quite adaptable and very forgiving as pastry goes. The tangy goat cheese, the spicy, late-summer herbs, the rich olive oil, the cracked black pepper: they all work as a perfect foil for the leeks, the fat heirloom tomatoes and just a touch of Gruyère. I made the version above just a few hours ago and it’s gone, gone, gone: it disappeared so quickly that I’m determined to bring home more tomatoes from the market this weekend. And I’ll keep on making this tart until the tomatoes are gone, gone, gone for another year.
Give this one a try. But don’t blame me if your counters start overflowing with end-of-season tomatoes and your freezer is jammed full of butter!
- 1 cup (130 grams) whole wheat pastry flour
- 1/2 cup (80 grams) whole wheat flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 9 tbsp (4 and 1/2 oz) butter, frozen*
- 1 egg
- 3 tbsp water
- corn meal, for sprinkling (alternatively, use parchment)
- 1/4 cup chèvre (fresh goat cheese)
- 1 – 2 tbsp olive oil
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup fresh herbs, divided (I used oregano & thyme)
- 2 baby leeks (or 1 medium leek, halved lengthwise), cleaned well and thinly sliced
- 2 or 3 meaty heirloom tomatoes, thickly sliced
- 1/2 cup grated Gruyère cheese, loosely packed
*For convenience, I use one stick of frozen butter for grating and one extra tablespoon of cold butter, diced.
- In a large bowl, whisk together flours and salt. Grate in frozen butter, mixing into flour with your hands until flour is moistened and somewhat like coarse meal. In a separate bowl, beat the egg lightly with the water. Make a well in the flour, add the beaten egg and work into the flour until a shaggy dough forms. Turn onto a lightly floured board, form into a smooth ball, kneading only minimally, and allow dough to rest under a clean kitchen towel while you prep the remaining ingredients.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (400 degrees F convection). In a small bowl combine chèvre, pepper, about half of the fresh herbs, and enough olive oil to moisten the cheese and make it easily spreadable.
- Pat the dough into a rectangular shape, about the size of a business letter. Roll out to approximately 1/4-inch thickness, rolling from the middle and loosening the dough from the board, and adding additional flour as needed. Sprinkle corn meal liberally on a baking sheet. Transfer the dough to the baking sheet. Spread the dough thinly & evenly with the chèvre mixture. Sprinkle on sliced leeks and about half of the Gruyère. Layer on sliced tomatoes, keeping about 1 inch clear on all sides. Top with the remaining Gruyère and fresh herbs and a grind or two of fresh black pepper. Fold the edges of the tart dough up, tucking some of the filling under the fold, and folding under any thin edges to form a smooth edge.
- Bake on the lowest rack in the preheated oven until tart dough is puffed and nicely brown, tomatoes are wilted and cheese is lightly browned, approximately 20 – 25 minutes. Keep an eye on the tart in case the dough gets too brown before the middle is cooked through; if so, lower the oven heat to 350 degrees and continue cooking until done. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes before slicing and serving.
- I ‘ve made this a few times now, with variations in the dough, the cheeses, the herbs, the filling. This is my favorite version, but clearly almost anything that works on pizza will work here as well. I do find that the goat cheese middle is key: you need something a bit tangy to offset the rich pastry dough. David Lebovitz suggests mustard as that tangy something, which probably works well (if you don’t hate mustard, like me).
- This tart works nice with cherry or plum tomatoes, halved, as well as larger, meaty tomatoes.
- The French tart dough is a wonder of ease, flakiness & flavor: the tart in this photo was baked on a very humid, rainy day, so it did not puff up as much as previous versions have done, yet still remained deliciously flaky and light. I’ve never used egg in a tart dough before, but for savory tarts, I’m sold. You can obviously use all-purpose flour here, but I highly recommend the addition of at least a little whole wheat flour: the nuttiness and depth it adds to the tart are fabulous.
Best eaten fresh.
Summer into early Fall.