The other day, while doing my grocery shopping I was looking for a nice French 'Brie', oftentimes lovingly nicknamed 'The Queen of Cheeses'. Brie is a soft cheese named after the French region Brie. It's a creamy, off-white cheese with an edible rind, soft-ripened, made from cow's milk and usually sold in small rounds. While waiting my turn at the cheese counter and oogling the generous offerings, I noticed some delicious looking rounds of 'Camembert de Normandie', also made from cow's milk, with a smooth, runny interior, a buttery flavor and a white bloomy rind that is also meant to be eaten with the cheese. It occurred to me that whenever I see Camembert it always makes me think of a popular appetizer, Breaded Camembert Rounds with Cranberry Sauce that my mother found hard to resist whenever she spied the dish on a restaurant menu.
Well, if you, like most people I know, including myself of course, enjoy warm Camembert oozing from its breading and mingling with a tangy, fruity compote or chutney, this is definitely a recipe you should try. To compliment this dish, Germans usually go the 'Preiselbeermarmelade' route – which, without dwelling on botanical subleties here, is a compote akin to, but not exactly the same as, cranberry sauce. As an alternative, I quite enjoy a red currant jam alongside my breaded Camembert. But, for now, that traditional recipe is meant for another blogpost in the near future.
Back to my shopping for Brie. When it was my turn to order cheese at the counter, I had changed my mind. I proceeded to buy three smallish rounds of Camembert de Normandie instead of the Brie and I was going to serve a simple to make White Camembert Tart that should reflect the flavors of Breaded Camembert Rounds in a tart shell.
By the time I had placed my Camembert cheese loot into my shopping kart, I was keen on getting started on the pastry dough (it does need to rest and cool for a bit) and had no desire to look further for that sometimes elusive 'Preiselbeermarmelade'. So, while waiting in line to pay my groceries and pondering the contents of my freezer and cupboard, I remembered that one of my kind dinner guests had recently visited the Abbey Marienstatt (Abtei Marienstatt), located in the Westerwald region. While there, he had tasted some of the delicacies lovingly produced at the Abbey and chosen to buy some very tasty Apple Chutney (Apfelchutney), of which I was the lucky recipient. So, to make a long story short, 'Marienstatter Applechutney‘ alongside a White Camembert Tart it was for dinner that early summer evening.
While I was running rather late that day with taking pics and all, I ended up really liking the way this very easy recipe turned out. A simple, no-fuss, all-butter pastry, fresh eggs, French cheese, some sea salt, white pepper, freshly ground nutmeg, and freshly ground bread crumbs is all it takes to get that breaded Camembert taste. For this recipe it turned out to be a tasty idea to add some freshly made bread crumbs after the first 20 minutes of baking, right on top of the still wobbly custard, then continue baking until done. Voilà! Not bad for a weekday supper.
White Camembert Tart
For the Pastry
- 250 g all purpose (plain) flour (alternatively, you can use white spelt flour), plus some for flouring the tart pan and your work surface
- 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
- 125 g unsalted butter, nice and cold, plus some for greasing the pan
- 1 egg (L), free- range or organic
- 1-3 tbsp cold water
- one quiche pan 26 cm or 28cm (10.5in or 11in), preferably with a removable bottom
- a soft-bristled pastry brush
- ceramic pie weights (or beans/rice) and two sheets of parchment paper for blind-baking and for lining the baking pan
- 3 Camembert rounds, cut into slices; shingled into pre-baked pie shell (each weighs about 125g for a total of 375g), preferably Camembert de Normandie
- 3 eggs (L), free-range or organic
- 200ml cooking (double) cream
- 200g sour cream
- fine sea salt
- freshly ground white pepper
- freshly grated nutmeg
- 2 heaping tbsps homemade bread crumbs (not the sandy ones form the box, pls)
- apple or pear chutney OR
- cranberry jam (which, around here would be 'Preiselbeermarmelade‘ – the 'cranberry' is the North American cousin of the 'Preiselbeere')
Preparation of the Quiche
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and the salt. Cut up the cold butter into small cubes and, using your fingertips, rub together the ingredients just until it looks like coarse oatmeal.
- Add the egg and the water and mix everything together as quickly as possible. Pat the dough into a disc. Wrap in food wrap and place in the fridge for at least one hour (better for three hours).
- Take the pastry out of the fridge 30 minutes prior to making the quiche.
- Then on a lightly-floured work surface, roll out the dough to a circle 28cm (12 inches).
- Grease the baking pan with some butter and line the pan with parchment paper, then butter again and dust with flour and make sure to shake out the excess. Then line the pan with the pastry (either cut off the excess dough OR crimp the edges) and place in the fridge for another 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
- Take the baking pan out of the fridge, dock the dough with the tines of a fork, line with crumbled parchment paper, fill-up with pie weights and ‚blind‘ bake in the middle of the oven for about 12 to 15 minutes, or until the pastry is dry to the touch.
- Take the baking pan out of the oven, remove the pie weights and the parchment paper and bake again for another 5 to 10 minutes or until the pastry has a golden color. Leave the crimped edge OR use a small, sharp knife to trim away the excess pastry from the edge.
- While your tart case pre-bakes, you can make your filling. In a bowl, beat the eggs and cream together until evenly combined.
- Add a pinch of freshly ground white pepper, a good pinch of fine salt, and some freshly grated nutmeg.
- Place the Camembert slices over the base of the pastry case.
- Carefully pour the creamy egg mixture into the tart case and place on a baking sheet.
- Bake for a good 20 minutes, until set but still wobbly, then sprinkle the bread crumbs on top and very carefully slide the baking shett back into the oven.
- Continue to bake for another 15 to 25 minutes or until the filling is just set and golden.
- Leave in the pan for 5 minutes, then carefully unmould the tart.
- Serve warm or cold, with a side salad and homenmade cranberry jam (optional).
If you would like to speed things up further, you can go with a good quality, premade shortcrust pastry.
- For more info with respect to the Abbey Marienstatt (Abtei Marienstatt), pls go HERE (in German)