One of the reasons I established the Modern Baker Challenge was that I wanted to develop my skills as a pastry chef. You see, although I’ve been cooking and baking for most of my life, I’ve never quite mastered the art of pastry dough. In fact, I usually buy frozen pie crusts whenever I am baking a pie, quiche, or tart. Wanting to overcome my fear of pastry dough, I decided to bake my way through Nick Malgieri‘s The Modern Baker, which is filled with pies, tarts, and the like.
So, although I took on the challenge of cooking my way through Around My French Table mainly to develop skills in French cooking, I was appreciative of the fact that it would also force me to make tart dough for a number of recipes, including Gérard’s Mustard Tart.
This week’s recipe is really two recipes: the mustard tart, on page 154, and tart dough, on page 498. The tart dough takes a bit of time to make, as the initial dough has to chill for at least three hours, and once it’s panned, it has to chill another hour before it is blind baked. I made the dough a few days before baking the tart and rolled it out (with decent, if not perfect, results) just before making the mustard tart.
As I read the instructions, I realized my tart pan was 11 inches, instead of the 9-inch pan called for in the recipe. I tried to roll the dough out enough to fit my pan and came pretty close.
While the crust was pre-baking, I began chopping carrots and leeks for the tart. The vegetables were cut into matchsticks and steamed with a sprig of rosemary. I don’t have a vegetable steamer, but I have found that my colander set into the top of a stock pot works well. I wrap foil around the top of the colander to cover the holes that don’t fit down into the pot. This method has always worked well for me; so well that I’ve never felt the need to buy a steamer.
The vegetables smelled intoxicating. The rosemary became very fragrant as soon as the colander hit the steamer, and I could smell the sweet scent of the leeks within a minute or so.
While the vegetables were steaming, I mixed up the custard, which consisted of eggs, heavy cream, Dijon mustard, Maille moutarde à l’ancienne (hooray for World Market!), salt, and pepper. After tasting the custard to adjust the salt, pepper, and mustards, I poured the custard into the cooled tart shell, then topped it with the vegetables.
A little sprinkle of salt and pepper on the top, and it was ready to bake. I baked the tart at 425°F for about 30 minutes, until the custard was set and the crust and vegetables nicely browned. I allowed the tart to cool for a few minutes, then removed it from the pan.
I was pleased with the way the tart looked when it came out of the pan. It held together well, and compared favorably to the picture in the book. But as they say, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. So, how did it taste? As I Tweeted immediately after taking my first bite, “I think I died and went to Paris!” The bite of the mustard paired perfectly with the sweetness of the steamed carrots and leeks.
This is an excellent recipe that I will definitely add to my repertoire. It would make an impressive appetizer, but would stand up equally well as a main dish. Either way, I would bring it to the table whole, as it is just beautiful, and cut it with a chef’s knife before serving.
See what the other Dorians are up to here.