‘Tis the season for yeast, dough, and bread. Lately, I have been succumbing to my merciless cravings for starch. When selecting recipes to test from the monthly BA magazines that arrive at my doorstep, I implement the “try the recipe based solely on the aesthetics in the accompanying photo” strategy. In the February issue, the cover showcases a delightful, perfectly rotund Caramelized Garlic, Spinach, and Cheddar Tart. If BA is showcasing the tart as their February cover, it is bounded to be a rich and creamy standout.
If there is one thing I am enjoying about my cooking as of late, it has been my own propensity to craft homemade dough in preparation for pizza (more on that later this month) and in this case, homemade all-butter pie dough, which serves as the basis for this tart. Caramelizing the garlic with a medley of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and maple syrup yields a distinctiveness that you won’t find anywhere else. Rosemary and thyme, coupled with salt and pepper enhance the nutty garlic flavors even more. Several eggs and dairy addictives (white cheddar cheese, crème fraîche, and heavy cream) string together the rest of this winter tart. The bright green spinach leaves, shimmering carmelized garlic heads, and off white-yellow base of the tart also compliment one another, in terms of aeshetic balance and color.
When time permits, making pie dough is undoubtedly the route to take. Making the pie dough was not all that difficult (provided you have ample time) and I made sure to make a couple of batches for later use (pop in the freezer when done). The pie dough itself is incredibility versatile; use for hand pies, pot pies, this tart, or for whatever recipe you conjure up on your own. This recipe features a braided pie crust, which I opted to forego, as the pictures attest. There are an abundance of cooking intricacies of which I don’t mind, however, braiding pie crust dough is not one of them. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
Whether you indulge in this tart-quiche hybrid for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or as a midnight-snack: it matters not. For me personally, eating this decadent tart served as a poignant reminder (and provided further confirmation) that eating well is indeed good for the soul.
All-Butter Pie Dough
Recipes from the February 2015 issue of Bon Appétit
Yields two 9-10″ single-crust pies
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) chilled, unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
Pulse flour and salt in a food processor to combine. Pulse in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal with pieces of butter still visibile, about 20 pulses (use your fingers if sans food processor). Combine vinegar and 1/2 cup ice water in a measuring cup. Pulsing, drizzle in vinegar mixture; pulse until dough just holds together when squeezed (it should still be crumbly), about 10 pulses. Turn out dough and divide in half. Place each half on a sheet of plastic wrap and use plastic to press into disks. Wrap and chill until firm, about 2 hours. Do ahead: dough can be chilled 3 days ahead. Or, freeze up to 2 months.
Caramelized Garlic, Spinach, and Cheddar Tart
All-Butter Pie Dough (recipe below)
5 large eggs
3 heads of garlic, cloves peeled
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp. pure maple syrup
1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
Freshly ground black pepper
6 oz. sharp white cheddar cheese, grated (about 2 cups)
2 cups baby spinach
3/4 cup crème fraîche
3/4 cup heavy cream
Place a rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 350 degrees F. Roll out 1 disk of dough on a lightly floured surface to a 14″ round. Transfer to a 9″ diameter pie dish. Lift up edge and let dough slump down into dish. Trim, leaving about 1″ overhang. Meanwhile, roll out second disk of dough on a lightly floured surface until about 1/8″ thick. Cut into 1/4″-thick strips. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. If dough is soft, chill until just pliable. Working with 3 strips at a time, braid dough, returning braids to baking sheet as you go. Chill until just pliable (I didn’t braid the edges of my pie dough).
Beat 1 egg in a small bowl. Brush edge of dough in dish and bottom sides of braids with egg. Arrange braids along edge, trimming and gently pressing sections together as you go. Freeze 15 minutes. Line dough with parchment paper or foil, leaving some overhang. Fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake until crust is dry around edge, 25-30 minutes.
Remove parchment and weights and brush entire crust with egg. Bake until crust is dry and set, 10-15 minutes. Let cool. Meanwhile, cook garlic in a medium saucepan of boiling, salted water until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes; drain.
Wipe saucepan dry and heat oil in pan over medium-high. Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally until cloves start to turn golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add vinegar and 1 cup of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until garlic is tender, 10-12 minutes. Add maple syrup, rosemary, and thyme and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is syrupy and coats garlic, about 5 minutes. Scatter cheese over crust; top with spinach. Whisk crème fraîche, cream, and remaining eggs in a medium bowl; season with salt and pepper. Pour over spinach. Add garlic with any syrup. Bake until custard is set and golden brown in spots, 35-40 minutes. Let cool.