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A lovage and egg tart

I’m about to make a quiche. OK, not strictly a Quiche Lorraine kind of quiche but more a simple savoury egg tart with herbs and – sacrilege! – no cream. More about the filling anon. Let’s zoom in on the pastry base.

No kneading is involved either – I’m using a blender. The cold blade rather than warm fingers will keep the pastry cold, and it seems to add an airiness to the dough.

And there’s no butter, lard or suet – just plain flour, water and olive oil (ordinary not extra virgin). Healthy, eh? Flour, water and plain olive oil, in the rough ratios of 3:1:1. So for a tart to serve three or four people, I use:

  • 150 g plain flour
  • 50 ml water
  • 50 ml olive oil

Put your blender (sans lid) on the weighing scales and zero the scales. Add the flour directly into the blender.

(Regular readers will know that I’m always trying to minimise the washing up.)

Run your cold tap so the water is as cold as it gets. In a measuring jug, measure the water. Now carefully pour the oil into the jug. You want 50 ml of oil, so the total liquid will come up to the 100 ml mark.

Pour the water and oil into the blender with the flour. Reserve the jug (for mixing the tart’s filling later).

Plain flour, water and olive oil

Put the lid on the blender. Blend the flour, oil and water together for about a minute until they become a ball of dough.

(If this doesn’t happen and the mixture looks too wet, add a pinch more flour and blend some more. If it looks too dry, remove the blender’s blade and see if you can scrunch together the ingredients into a ball. If it’s still too dry, add a few drops of water and oil in roughly equal parts and reblend.)

Put the ball of dough in a plastic container and leave to relax for an hour in the fridge.

(Don’t you hate how recipes with their telegraphese can sound ever so confusing? I mean the dough (not you) should rest in the fridge. It will become far easier to roll out. So would you if you were stuck in a fridge for an hour.)

Pre-heat your oven to 180C.

Lightly oil a pie dish with plain olive oil. Optional: lightly sprinkle the dish’s bottom with semolina.

Lightly dust a worktop with flour. Roll out the pastry so that it is large enough to fill the dish. Try to make it as thin as possible. Let the excess flop over the sides. This may look untidy, but it will shrink in the oven anyway, and you can always trim the unruly bits later with a sharp knife once the pie is cooked.

Lightly prick the pie’s bottom a dozen times with a fork.

(Don’t bother with all that palaver with dried beans or baking paper or painting the inside of the case with beaten egg. Life’s too short.)

Put the dish on a baking tray; this will make it easier to lift the baked pie out of the oven without breaking its edges. Blind bake in the oven until it begins to brown. I cannot give exact times; all ovens are different. Say about 15 minutes.

While the base is baking, prepare the egg filling. In the measuring jug that you’ve reserved, roughly whip together a simple mixture such as:

  • Five to six whole eggs
  • Optional extras such as bacon or ham or smoked fish
  • Fresh herbs such as parsley, lovage (more of which anon) or tarragon
  • Freshly ground black or white pepper and a pinch of salt

(There is no gallon of double cream in this recipe. Admittedly, cream would make the filling much richer and smoother, but heavier too. I’m counting my calories. Oh go on then, add a dollop or two of cream or crème fraiche or natural yoghurt.)

Take the pie dish out of the oven. Pour in the eggy mixture. Return it carefully to the oven.

Continue baking for 20 minutes or so until the egg topping is cooked – it may puff up almost like a souffle and not be liquidy any more. For best results, try to catch it so that the egg is just about to be fully cooked, particularly in the centre of the pie, then take the dish out of the oven and let the residual heat do the rest of the job.

(Serve with a light salad or whatever takes your fancy.)

A quiche lorraine with dressed baby spinach, tomatoes, mayo and chives

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