Good pastry should melt in the mouth, but not break down completely when you slice it – there is crumbly, and there’s just crumbs. Pastry-making is a great skill to have, but sometimes we can overthink it.
Give yourself time, and follow the recipe: the trick is to allow it to rest, and to roll it quickly to prevent it from drying out. I prefer a thin pastry, rather than too thick – although that comes down to personal taste.
The umami of the parmesan and anchovy straws shared below make your mouth water and their saltiness can take a proper drink, like a negroni or a gin and tonic. Buy a good anchovy paste, or make your own (Ortiz anchovies are a favourite).
As for the salmon and watercress tart, I like the pepperiness of it paired with the rich fattiness of the fish. You can use spinach if you prefer, but watercress is coming into season and it’s a great thing to use. It’s a great one for brunch, lunch or dinner.
For dessert, the chocolate tart here is a foolproof, portable dinner party essential (as long as you measure everything correctly). I do a few charity dinners and often take this with me, pre-rolled ready.
Having said that, I once asked someone else to measure it out, then put it in the fridge and it just wouldn’t set. They’d put too much milk chocolate in and not enough dark – so I took all the chocolate out of the cases, and whipped it up with a bit of cream to make a quick chocolate mousse – it was a real lesson in how to adapt under pressure!
The sweetness of the milk chocolate and the bitterness of the dark chocolate means that it’s well balanced and not overly sugary, especially served with a sharp-tasting ice cream, crème fraîche or mascarpone. Similarly, the tartness of the Bramley apple and blackberry tart in the gluten-free recipe here cuts through the sweetness of the pastry.