Lactose-free cooked shells for tartlets and quiches

Lactose-free dough for tartlets and quiches

These onion tartlets are on their own a good recipe for buffets, snacks and picnics as we like them in Morocco and probably everywhere else.

But honestly the star of this post has to be this lactose-free dough has all working for it. It’s fuss-free and forgiving. It works for small moulds and has a good texture. Most importantly, it does not spring back. It’s just perfect even for beginners.

I have to admit that I bought about 48 mini petits-fours moulds years ago, following on my elder sister and my mother before here..I knew I will be putting them to good use one day but I just felt like any dough will puff if baked blank even after pricking it. And no I couldn’t see myself filling each tiny mould with beans as it would have been too much work..

To make a sweet version of this lactose-free dough, you just reduce the salt, replace the flavourings and add 30 to 50g of sugar.

All the credit for this finding goes to Piroulie whose blog was a real inspiration when I started with this blogging experience. She’s been one of the must trusted French bloggers since blogging has started.

While the quiches need the filling to cook and the base to be shaped, the dough itself take literally less than 5 minutes to make.

I find freezing it before baking helps keeping the shape perfect.

This recipe is freezer-friendly at any stage: either when you make the dough or shape it in its moulds, or fill it (without the cream though) or even bake it all.

You can also make the dough casings a few days earlier, bake them blank and keep them in an airtight container over the counter..

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Ingredients
Makes 50 + mini quiches and tartlets
Prep: 20 min – Baking: 10 min (blank) to 30 min (filled)

The lactose-free quiche base

  • 300g flour (more or less)
  • 90 ml of boiling water
  • 10 ml of vinegar
  • 100 ml of oil (50%-50% olive oil/veg oil for me)
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 5 g of baking powder
  • Black pepper, tarragon or oregano or thyme (optional)

For the onion filling

  • 2 medium-size yellow/white onion, finely sliced
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 tsp of butter
  • A good sprinkle of thyme or/and oregano
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • About 3 bits of sun-dried tomatoes in oil,  chopped

For the cream mix

  • 100 ml of single or fresh cream
  • 1 egg, small
  • Salt, pepper to taste
  • A pinch of nutmeg

For the pepper filling

  • About 2 cups of sliced sweet peppers, mixed colours
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2 tbsps of tomato puree or grated tomatoes
  • 1 tsp of harissa paste (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Black olives or black olive tapenade
  • A good sprinkle of thyme or oregano

Extras

  • A few cuts of khlii
  • 100 g of grated cheese (Gruyere, Edam, Provolone…)
  • A few parsley leaves


Preparation

Mix all ingredients together except flour and baking powder which you need to add just afterwards.
Combine to a dough.

Roll over a floured surface as thin as you can (about 1 mm). Do not over-flour the surface so the dough keeps a good texture after it’s baked.

Cut shapes that will fit into your moulds, press the bottom to expel air and the edges firmly.

Prick as much as you can.

You can either freeze this at this stage or fill it and freeze it or bake it black and freeze it.

I freeze the dough in the moulds for 15 minutes, by the time the oven is well preheated.


Assembly and baking

Preheat the oven at 180 degrees C. Place all the mini-moulds in a baking sheet.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.

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Quick and easy rough puff pastry

Puff pastry is truly a worldwide recipe. Many countries have an array of pastries based on it. Many countries have a form or another of laminated dough (we have Msemmens or old-style laminated sweet bread).

The Arabs and Andalusian have been laminating dough with oil or any fat as far as the 10th century and even before..So that’s not totally a new thing.

I love pastries made with puff pastry but I really can’t buy any which is not made of butter. I’d rather skip it.

This puff pastry recipe is really for those who dread the idea of making one at home, but even for those who are in a hurry and don’t want to start the long process of laminating, cooling, starting over..

Actually, this easy puff pastry will take you less time to make it than to go and buy it! Its texture is about 70% of the classic version in term of puffing but the taste is all the same..Again, this is due to the use of butter which should be no less than 82 % fat (basic butters in UK and Germany have that ratio).

Yes you can buy puff pastry from a shop, but it happens that most of them are using anything except butter or a tiny bit of it, unless you really buy a 100% all butter puff pastry (in this case, you are lucky).

The taste of an all butter puff pastry is far superior than any other non-butter version. It’s so good beyond description. Of course, it’s to do with butter.

All what I’m asking you to do here is to put all the ingredients in the fridge then put them in a food processor with a blade. Give a few pulses then laminate 4 times without transiting by the fridge (hence the quick description) and you’re done!!!

For a full classic puff pastry, see my post here (in French, with pictures).

I suggest you read the notes before using the dough.

Ingredients

For approx 700g of puff pastry
Prep:10 min - Store unbaked
  • 250 g of all purpose flour, chilled
  • 250 g butter at least 82% fat, cut into small cubes and chilled
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 120 g of water, very cold

For puff pastry with savoury notes

  • 1 tbsp of Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp of crushed black pepper

Preparation

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade, put flour followed by salt and butter. Give it a few pulses until you see some uneven crumbs forming with clear bits of butter. You will still see bits of butter in the mix. That’s fine. You could use a bowl and a fork to do the same.

Next, pour ice-cold water to bring the mix to a dough texture. Again, give just a few pulses. Do not overwork the dough.

Form a rough ball and then flatten it.

Flour a clean work top and roll the dough to a rectangle. Sprinkle flour when needed to prevent it from sticking. I prefer to roll the dough between 2 cuts of baking paper so I don’t have to add a lot of flour to the dough.

Remove excess flour with a pastry brush. Fold the dough into 3.

Next, give a quarter turn to the dough in front of you and roll it again to a rectangle. Again, brush any excess of flour and fold into 3.

Repeat this a couple of time. You would have basically laminated the dough 4 times in about less than 5 min. Try to pat and push edges and corners towards the inside of the dough just to make sure the whole slab looks like a proper and neat rectangle.

Cover the dough with a cling film and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours before using it. The same way we do with any buttery puff pastry. To shortcut that, I place it for 20 min in the freezer. It does the job.


Notes

  • Always use the puff pastry cold but still possible to roll so it does not break.
  • Always fill it with cold filling, never warm or hot.
  • Always use a sharp knife to cut and shape your pastry for optimum puffing effect.
  • Never let the egg wash flow on the edges where you have cut the dough, it also prevents good puffing.
  • Once your pastry is shaped, again, place it for 10 min in the freezer or 30 – 60 min in the fridge before baking for better results.
  • Browse the blog using the key words “puff pastry” and enjoy the many nibbles and starters made of puff.

My favourite sablés biscuits: 1 dough, many designs

I have this thing for sablés and I’m not the only Moroccan who does. In fact, I’ve been in contact with many people for all corners of the globe and everyone loves them.

Sablés are buttery biscuits (or cookies for some) which could be flavoured, enriched and finished in endless ways.
Apart from the round-whirl biscuits with cherry, all these sablés
were made using the same dough
Like many countries, sablés à la confiture (jam biscuits) are a nation’s favourite (especially children). In Morocco, the standard jam used to fill these biscuits are apricot or strawberry jam due to the abundance of these two fruits in Morocco (in their season).
 
Thin sandwiched sables with dulche de leche inside. Smear the edges with the
same filling and roll them into the little candy balls
 
In the last 25 years, we started using confiture de lait (literally milk jam) which you may know as dulche de leche. The shortcut to this caramelised spread is to buy a sweetened condensed milk can and cook it (unopened) for a couple of hours in a hot water. The result is so yummy!
Fill a pot with water to cover the can of sweet condensed milk, cover the pot and
let simmer for a couple of hours. Open it once cool and save it for months
Moroccan women and Moroccan bakeries are very creative when it comes to making sablés especially with the finishing touches.


Different finishing touches 
Have fun with your cookie-cutters but make sure you try my trusted sablés’ recipe. I’m posting it because wherever I lived and offered them, I was asked to share the recipe, especially when I use lime zest in the dough and sandwich the biscuits with a red berry jam (raspberry, strawberry).
 
If you ask me, the sablé’s biscuit dough is easy but tricky at the same time. It’s a delicate bake that needs attention and love (the hidden ingredients). You just need to learn a few tricks to get it always right.  
 
Make sure you dust the upper biscuit first with icing sugar before
sandwiching it with the bottom part
 
 
Ingredients
Makes 40 + (depending on the cutters used) 
Prep: 15 min- Resting time: 10 min to 1 hour – Baking: 10-12 min
 
The biscuit dough
  • 400g of flour
  • 250g of soft butter, at room temperature 
  • 250g of powdered sugar
  • 100g of corn starch 
  • 7 g of baking powder
  • 1 egg + 1 egg yolk 
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract or vanilla beans from 1 pod (if the filling will be dulche de leche)
  • Zest of 2 limes and/or 2 lemons (if the filling will be jam)
  • 1/2 tsp of salt

Filling (choose your options)

  • 100 g of dulche de leche
  • 100 g of good jam
  • 80 g of gianduja spread

Finishing (choose your options)

  • 1 egg yolk (for a finishing like the small Christmas trees)
  • 100g of blanched, fried or baked almond, coarsly crushed
  • 100 g of dark or milk chocolate (if making the hearts with half-dipped side)
  • 100g of lemon royal icing (1 tbsp of lemon juice mixed with 200 -250g of icing sugar) and small candy balls
  • 40g of icing sugar
 
To stick crushed blanched and fried almond, you just need to brush the surface with honey
or apricot marmalade that’s been warmed and sifted
 
Preparation
 

This sablés’ recipe uses the creaming method rather than the crumbling one.
 
Using an egg beater or a food processor fitted with a paddle, beat the butter with sugar, salt vanilla or zests for a few minutes to reach a creamy texture. Add the eggs and beat to combine.

Fold in the other dry ingredients. Form a ball and place it in a big cut of cling film. Flatten it 1cm thick to form an “abaisse”.Cover with a the cling film and transfer to the freezer for 15 min or in the fridge for 1-2 hours.

Preheat the oven at 170 C and line up the baking sheets with baking paper.

Roll the cold dough between 2 sheets of baking paper. You may use a tablespoon of flour to dust the work surface. Roll the dough as thin as 2 mm bearing in mind the dough has baking powder so it will rise slightly.
 
Cut shapes, lift them with an offset spatula (or a knife) onto the baking sheet as you go. It is important that the dough remains cold and that you lift the biscuits delicately so you do not damage their shape. If the biscuit cuts warm up, place the whole baking sheet in the freezer for 5 minutes (hopefully you have space). 
Make sure you count the biscuits in pairs as you will be sandwiching them later.
You could use some cookie-prints (many options available in Morocco)
It is also advisable that you make some extra units from each shape as some might break or burn.
For the top biscuits with a hole in the middle, If you are not so sure about how steady your hands might be, cut the hole and pinch the excess dough once the biscuit cut is already in the baking sheet.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until slightly golden from the edges.
 
 
The biscuits should NOT be fiddled with in the first couple of minutes as they tend to break, so be patient and then gently transfer them onto a grill to cool.
 
Assembling and decorating the biscuits

Use a knife or a spatula to smear your preferred filling. Follow these instructions to finish the sablés:
  • For biscuits with icing sugar on top, dust the top part before sandwiching it with the bottom part which you would have already smeared with the cold filling.
  • For biscuits with almond bits on top: warm a 3 tablespoons of apricot jam with 1 tablespoon of water and sift. Brush the side where you want to stick the nuts powder then roll it side in the it. Warm clear honey will also do.
  • For biscuits with half-almond powder and half-chocolate: start first with the almond side, clean the edges with your fingers to have a neat finish. Dip the other side into melted chocolate, get rid of any excess and then place each sablé on a baking paper. Let the chocolate set before moving them.

The sablés keep well for a week if you put them in an airtight container. I tend to fill them with jam in the day I want to serve them so they don’t get soaked and last longer. 

I also keep any excess dough in the freezer which I use for biscuits but also for tarts.

 


Les Gougères

A choux pastry is a wonderful base for many sweet and savoury recipes. Think éclairs, religieuses, Saint-Honoré, some nice doughnuts, chouquettes, and gougères..


Everytime I move from one country to another I have to adjust my recipe according to 2 main elements:

  • The level of absorption of the flour used
  • The size of the eggs

However, there is a basic recipe which you can adjust by experiment. Once you get the knack of it, it will become your best friend.
Back to my gougères. If you are used to make them, you may notice that I have added some herbs and spices to the basic recipe. Feel free to do the same. You just need to make sure that your addition do not altere the balance between the dry and wet mass.

About that, you might need 4 small eggs, or 3 large eggs for this recipe, the fresher the better because the older the eggs are, their white part become more liquidy and less heavy. 



Ingredients 
Makes about 40 pieces
Prep 20 min – baking: 20 min

  • 1/4 liter of water
  • 100 g butter
  • 150 g flour 
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • A pinch of baking powder (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp of freshly ground pepper (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp of cayenne or chili pepper (optional)
  • 1 tsp of any thyme or oreganon  or chives (optional)
  •  3 large eggs
  • 100 g of gruyère or emmental, grated

Finishing touch

  • 40g of gruyere approx., grated
  • 1 egg yolk for egg wash (some old french recipes do not use it)

Preparation
In a saucepan, bring the water and butter to a boil.

Away from the heat, add all at once flour, salt, baking powder if using. Stir until all is combined. Bring back the saucepan on the top of the heat. Keep stiring with a wooden spoon until the dough comes away alone from the edges of the pan and make a mass.

Set aside for a couple of minutes to cool slightly.

Steps of making the gougères
Add the eggs one at a time: add 1st egg and combine, using a spatula. Mix until complete absorption. 
Add the other egg and combine until fully incorporated. Repeat with the remaining 2 eggs (this can be done with an electric mixer). You want to get a texture that is sticky, soft, not to runny but that would drop from your spatula after a few seconds. If you run your finger through it will spring back. Did I explain it right? I tried..
Add the herbs, the spices you fancy and finish with the cheese.
Preheat the oven at 210 degrees C or 190 degrees C for a fan oven. Line minimum 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Use either 2 spoons to make the gougeres masses or a pastry bag to dress them properly.
Egg wash and sprinkle with grated cheese before heading to the oven.
Bake for 10 min at 210 degrees C (190 degrees fan oven) for 10 min, then bring the temperature down to 190-180 degrees C ( 170- 160 fan) for another 10-15 min until they’re puffed and nicely coloured.
Once they’re baked, open the oven door and let the steam come out, bake for a few minutes to get a crispy skin while you can keep the pillowy texture.
Gougères are best served warm or with the hour. 
However, I served mine like mini-sandwiches, filled with a cream cheese, green olive, provolove cubes and some mortadella cubes… 

Note: Thanks Eric for rectifying my mistake about cougères being Gougères!