caramelised onion & feta tart

Recently I grabbed one whole hour of uninterrupted bliss... and I wasn’t asleep. Do you get to enjoy time like that very often? A massage you ask? No. Facial perhaps? No chance. It was an impromptu date with the Kim Evans book ‘Treats from Little & Friday’.  I completely lost myself in her story, vintage layout and special recipes. Her book drizzles mouth-watering charm on every page.  It’s no wonder this tart is still No. 1 in her Auckland bakeries. The addition of gruyere cheese and mustard powder to the pastry takes it well beyond expectations.  A modern tart based on the classic French favourite that’s perfect I reckon for the Easter long weekend.

IngredientsPaprika & Gruyere Pastry ❤ 75 grams unsalted butter ❤ 1 ¼ cups plain flour ❤ ½ teaspoon paprika ❤ ½ teaspoon mustard powder ❤ ½ cup grated Gruyere Swiss Cheese (Australian or NZ brands are good) ❤ salt and pepper ❤ 1 egg yolk ❤ 2 tablespoons iced water  (enough pastry for one 28cm round tart or six 6cm tarts)

Tart filling - 1 cup tasty cheese, grated ❤ 2 cups crumbled feta (or other crumbly cheese of your choice - blue cheese would work wonders too) ❤ 3 cups Caramelised Onions (below) ❤ salt and freshly ground pepper ❤ 12 eggs  (note: in the shallower tart tin I used here 8 eggs were plenty) ❤ ⅓ cup cream 

Caramelised Onions  (makes 4 cups) - 8 onions, thinly sliced ❤ 4 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar ❤ 6 tablespoons of brown sugar ❤ good dash of olive oil

Method + Top Tips

To make the pastry - rub butter and flour in a medium sized bowl until mixture resembles breadcrumbs.  Combine the paprika, mustard powder, Gruyere and salt and pepper in another bowl. Mix the egg yolk and water to paprika cheese mix. 

Add this to the flour and lightly knead into a soft dough before covering in cling wrap to rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.  (freezes well if required or refrigerate for up to one week)

Grease tart tin/s lightly with butter. Roll out Paprika & Gruyere pastry to 3mm thick. Line base and sides of tart tin. Rest in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes.  Note: it's brilliant pastry - doesn’t need a long resting time, easy to work with, you don’t need to blind bake this one and it doesn’t shrink.

Preheat oven to moderate 180°C (350°F).

To make the filling - Sprinkle grated cheese, crumbled feta and Caramelised Onions in the tart base, spreading evenly.  Season with salt and pepper. 

Whisk eggs and cream together until combined and pour gently into pastry tin, leaving a 2mm gap from the rim top so tart won’t overflow or stick.

Bake for 35 minutes for small tarts or 50 minutes for whole large, just checking egg mixture is set in the centre by lightly touching it. Should be a lovely golden brown and very fragrant. Cool completely in the tin before serving.

To make the caramelised onions - coat a large saucepan with olive oil. Fry off your thinly sliced onions in balsamic vinegar and brown sugar at high heat, stirring as required while liquid is forming and then reducing. Lower heat to a simmer and stir as required until onions are caramelised dark brown and very soft 

The parallels between Kim’s early days in her 1st Auckland bakery and my former Palm Beach one are vivid. Staying true to your original vision is often the hardest challenge in life, don’t you think?
A great busy bakery quickly takes on its own life and form, harder and harder to shape. Despite the name, Kim’s bakery was never going to stay ‘little’ or open only on ‘Fridays’ with beautiful baking like that.  Check out her Pear Tarts too if you get a chance. A petite piece of perfection.