Savory oregano pastry

This pastry has earned a prominent place in my kitchen repertoire because it is quicker to make than pizza dough . . . which by the way is a source of continuous experimentation at my house . . .

It forms the base to many a colorful vegetable torta, and even shapes the crust for my interpretation of the famous chard filled erbazzone. It is also the type of pastry I use to make savory crackers, flavored with anything from fresh rosemary and slivers of garlic, to grated Parmesan and coarse black pepper.

To make this pretty pastry only two things are needed:  good flour and butter, preferably organic and produced close to home

Mixing the cold butter through the flour with a gentle hand helps the end result to be perfectly crumbly and delicious.

Oh . . . did I say you can replace the butter with extra virgin olive oil ? See my notes for the explanation how to replace butter with olive oil.

Ingredients 

  • 120 grams unbleached organic wheat flour
  • 60 grams unsalted organic butter
  • a smidgen of sea salt
  • 15-35  ml ice cold water .
  • 5-10 grams of fresh oregano leaves and their blossoms .
  • or any fresh green aromatic herb available . like rosemary . sage or thyme

Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl. Slice the butter into thin pieces and chill it five minutes in the freezer.  (In the summer, I put the butter in the freezer up to 10-15 minutes before proceeding to make the pastry). Chill water in the freezer, or melt a few ice cubes.

Rub the butter quickly but gently with both hands through the flour into coarse pale yellow crumbs. Use as little pressure as possible while rubbing the flour and butter together, as this is one of the essentials to a nice light crust. Make a hole in the middle of the flour-butter crumble and add in two tablespoons of chilled water. Mix the water through the dough with a fork. If the dough is still too crumbly, add more cold water, a few half teaspoons at a time until it sticks together. Gently form a ball of the dough by pressing it together between the palm of your hands. Cover the dough and let it rest ten minutes. (I prefer to leave this dough outside of the refrigerator if the temperature of the season permits it, but if you like you can pop it in the fridge too. Either way, chill it no longer than ten minutes).

Meanwhile, cut a piece of baking paper into a circle large enough to cover the bottom and edges of a tart form 18 centimeters in width. Shape the baking paper to fit, folding it into pleats around the edges. Remove the pre-shaped baking paper from the tart form and flatten it on a clean work surface.  The dough can now be pressed and rolled directly onto the paper.

Dust the parchment paper with flour and lay the dough directly on it. Scatter the oregano leaves over the dough and dust it with some flour. Press the dough gently directly on the parchment paper, into a disk of even thickness with the palm of your hands. Dust the rolling pin with flour. Shape the dough into a flat circle with the rolling pin by moving outwards with the pin from the center of the dough to the top of the baking paper, from  the center to the bottom, followed by quick rolling movements  from the center to the left edge and finally, from center to the right edge of the baking paper. (The less a dough is rolled, the lighter the crust will be).

As the dough is rolled into shape, the fresh herbs will be pressed into it naturally.

Lift up the rolled out dough along with the baking paper and place it in the middle of the tart form. Pinch any extra dough into nice pleats around the edges.  Chill the rolled out pastry for 30 minutes in the fridge. (This helps the dough to keep its shape while baking and gives it an extra golden color). The pastry is now ready to be filled and baked. For any kind of vegetable or soft filling, I recommend blind baking the crust before filling it, as explained below.

Blind baking

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius. Press holes on the pastry bottom with a fork, as this prevents it from puffing up. Then cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom and edges of the pastry. Fill the tart form with a layer of dried beans or rice. Bake the pastry 10 minutes, then remove it from the oven, leaving the parchment and beans on top to cool slightly.Proceed with filling the tart with the roasted vegetables or soft filling of your choice. Baking times will vary according to the filling, but generally 30 minutes is the perfect timing to bake a savory tart.

Suggested combinations 

In the summer, I bake many variations of vegetable tarts, almost all of them involving ripe tomatoes and zucchini. See the blog posts for detailed recipe suggestions, like my favorite roasted tomato and plum tart.

Notes 

This dough works just as well with olive oil as it does with butter. The only difference is the color tends to darken when using olive oil. To bake a plant-based savory pastry, simply replace 120 grams of butter in the recipe with 100 ml extra virgin olive oil.

P.S.

In case you are curious . . . . .  a torta is the Italian name for any type of tart. . . . . . a torta salata is a savory tart, just the kind you would need this herbed pastry for .

An erbazzone is a savory chard & Parmesan vegetable tart famous in the region of Emilia Romagna . . . . . . sometimes spinach is added . . . . . . and I even have friends that put wild herbs in theirs.  I mention this tart at the beginning of my blog, and promise to make it someday soon!

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