Foolproof Swiss Style Tart

9:18 AM

a hearty Swiss style tart made with seasonal fruit (in this case peach).

We Swiss are a bit odd. We sometimes eat tarts, and tarts exclusively, for dinner. I say odd, to relate to you all outsiders, because being Swiss, I must say it is pretty cool. Come on! Tarts for DINNER!

Do I hear some of you being judgemental? Oh dear, did I hear you mumble tarts are junk food treats laden with sugar? That they have no health benefit whatsoever?

Well, Well, time to right a wrong here. You see the Swiss style tart is low in added sugar, packs the power of fresh fruits, nuts, milk and eggs. That makes it a dish that covers all food groups if you include the crust. And put in an attractive package that appeal to all the senses. Beside, we don't have it ALL the time for dinner, the rest of the time we have bread and cheese...

The beauty of this tart is that it can be done with whatever is in season, and the dough for the crust can be made in bulk and frozen. This means that the prep time on said tart is short enough once the dough has been taken care of.
The main ingredient is fruit, followed by ground whole almonds (or hazelnuts to be more authentic, but they are hard to come by in India).

Every fruit that can withstand about 30 minutes of baking will do, and there are quite a few believe me. Here in India I have made said pie with mangoes, plums, peaches, apples and cherries. In Switzerland some other traditional fillings would be apricots, and rhubarb.

Oh, by the way the pie in the picture is a peach pie.

All you need before starting is a good short crust pastry, here is my to go recipe, which is a bulk recipe, you can make 3 tarts in a 26cm diameter dish (shallow depth).

For the pastry, you will need:

500g all purpose white flour (maida)
150g unsalted butter chilled
2 eggs
1 heaped tbs of caster sugar
A little water.

To make the pastry, first take your chilled butter (in this is VERY important, the butter has to be cold) and cut it into cubes. Dump the cubes of butter in a mixing bowl with the flour and sugar and start gently rubbing and crumbling the butter in the flour with your hands until you have a coarse wet sand texture.

Once you have that wet sand texture, add the two eggs and start kneading to form a dough. You will have to add a little water to it to achieve that result. The final product will be a smooth dough that isn't sticky.

Wrap the dough in cling wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. You can also put it in the freezer at this point if you plan on using it later.

What you'll need for the tart:

A shallow pie dish about 2.5 to 3cm deep
Enough dough to fill the dish
About a cup or more of ground whole almonds (depends the size of your dish)
Enough fruits of your choice cut in thin wedges (or chunks in the case of mangoes)
100ml milk
2 eggs
A little vanilla sugar
Cinnamon powder.

- First, preheat your oven to 180 degrees (Celsius). Then, cut a piece of baking parchment to fit the pie dish.
At this point, the easiest, less messy way to roll your pastry dough is to do it directly on the parchment. So put the lump of dough on it, and roll it down to about 3-4mm thickness and to the size of said parchment.

Lift the parchment and place it into the dish. Trim the excess dough to have a neat shape

- Poke the dough that sits at the bottom of your dish with a fork in several places to prevent the dough from bubbling while baking. Then, spread your almond powder on top to form a layer of about 5-6mm thickness. The almonds prevent the natural juice from the fruit from making the crust soggy during the baking process.

- Once done with the almonds, start arranging your fruits wedges or chunks on top, in a artful way if possible . My peach pie in the picture is the ideal you should thrive to achieve.

- Next, put the 100ml of milk, 2 eggs and vanilla sugar into a bowl and beat with a fork to blend. pour this mixture all over the pie before baking. Sprinkle with cinnamon powder to help bring the natural sweetness of the fruit and shove into the oven.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until the visible crust has turned golden brown and the milk egg custard looks firm and no longer liquid-ish.

Transfer your pie to a wire rack to cool down. Use the baking parchment edges to lift out of the pie dish gently.
The pie is enjoyed at room temperature or slightly chilled. When still hot from the oven the flavour will be a bit off...don't eat it then. It is after all a tart, and not a pie and the filling behaves much differently.

And of course, if you want to eat it the true blue authentic Swiss way, it is best enjoyed for dinner with a cup of fruit infusion tea...

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  1. Anonymous9:25 AM

    Looks like sweet pizza to me. There is ofcourse an interesting Rajasthani dish called ghewar made from flour. The only similarities are tart and ghewar both are made of flour and are round. Ghewar is very popular festival dish


    1. Pizza is often said to belong to the pie family, and in fact most cultures have a version of round bread or pastry topped with something :-)
      In French the word for both Pie and Tart is "tarte" we don't make the distinction that is made in English. A tart's filling is in the open, a pie's is covered by a layer of pastry.
      Coming back to the pizza, the one we know as such is one version, the pizza rustica is a deep dish tart filled with savoury thing, not unlike the French Quiche which is also filled with something savoury but is opened like a tart.

      The origin of all these baked pies and tarts and flat breads with topping were probably a way to present leftovers in an attractive package.

      The Swiss pie was probably a way to not let fruits go to waste or make the fruits that have been preserved in oil a solid part of the winter more palatable as all these pies can be made with canned fruits as well. My grand ma used some of the fruits from her garden she had previously cut and frozen in the winter.

    2. When I lived in Berlin & fresh plums were in season there was a 'pastry' of sorts which was simply a yeast dough patted into a circle topped with fresh plum halves & baked, then lightly drizzled with a sugar glaze. I'm not sure exactly what it was called & it wasn't a 'true' pastry, but it was delicious. It really complemented the tartness of the plums without being overly sweet.
      Do the Swiss have a history of drying fruits for preservation?
      My mom's Dutch family recipes often called for dried plums, apricots, & apples. Apparently the Dutch liked to 'stew' dried fruits with perhaps a little cinnamon & cloves. Stewed fruits were served commonly with meats (like roasts or sausages) or served as fillings for pastries or pies/tarts. Most of these recipes are from the 1700's predating canning. Certainly would be a great way to add flavor & fiber to meals during the dreary winter months.

    3. I think I see which plum pastry you are talking about, but I don't know the name either.
      In Switzerland we make the tart I wrote about with plums when in season, some just halve them, some cut them in wedges.

      Dry fruits do exist in Swizterland too, those with a dessicator do them at home, most buy them from the store. During winter they usually go into the Swiss Muesli instead of fresh fruits.

  2. Anonymous6:16 PM

    I always thought it a bit weird when I first encountered fruit cakes and pies. How can fruit and cake go together? Fruits tastes so good on on its own but why destroy those beauties by throwing it with eggs flour and sugar and cook it! But still I went ahead and baked my first apple crumble. My family enjoyed it but I guess I will never take a liking to pies and tarts. Strangely I do love the combination of cut fresh fruit with sponge or butter cakes but not cooking the fruit with it.

    1. Fruit pies were probably a way to use fruits preserves that have been made to go through the long Winter period as jam was not the only method to preserve the excess load from the harvest. My grand ma did used to cut and preserve chunks of fruits in oil, and also in her freezer which is a more modern method. During the Summer months people use fresh fruits to make these tarts, usually the very ripe fruits that are a few days short of becoming unfit for consumption.


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