Leek & Caerphilly Cheese Tart
Although I happily made London my home some twelve years ago, I was born and raised in Wales and this is my own culinary tribute. Caerphilly cheese was one of my Grandad’s favourites. He would cut thick wedges of this deliciously crumbly cheese and sandwich them into slices from a fresh cob loaf with a healthy dollop of the ubiquitous Branston Pickle and not even a sniff of a salad leaf. The Caerphilly is the perfect match for the leeks. I like this tart cold from the fridge the next day, but it is equally good freshly made, and allowed to sit just a little while until warm, not piping hot. Fabulous with a salad and new potatoes!
I have made a photo guide to making shortcrust pastry – and lining your tin – here.
You will need to do this before making the tart filling. Try to make the pastry the night before you need it – or at least in the morning. Shortcrust takes no time at all to make – but all pastry needs to ‘rest’ in the fridge before you use it. Or use shop-bought shortcrust pastry, it’s up to you – you will need approximately 340g of pastry.
You will need a standard 23cm/9″ loose-bottomed tart/quiche tin, lined with shortcrust pastry and blind-baked.
For the filling:
400g / 14oz chopped leeks (two large leeks, topped and tailed, should be enough)
25g butter / 1 tbsp
140g / 5oz Caerphilly cheese, crumbled/chopped roughly into small pieces (Wensleydale or Cheshire work well, too)
170mls / 6oz creme fraiche (double/heavy cream is fine)
1 large egg (US extra large)
Sea salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 180c / 350f / gas mark 4. (If you’ve just blind-baked your pastry case at 200c, just remember to reduce the oven to 180c.)
Ensure your tin is lined with shortcrust pastry and blind baked. (For full instructions on this please see my guide to shortcrust pastry here.)
Top and tail the leeks.
Gently melt the butter in a deep saucepan and add the chopped leeks. Stir to coat in the butter and allow the leeks to soften on a very low heat for about 10 minutes.
Remove from the heat and allow to sit in the pan, cooling slightly, as you make the cheese mixture.
Combine the crumbled cheese and creme fraiche in a jug. At this point you can blitz with a hand blender if you prefer a smoother filling, or if you like the little chunks of cheese just leave it as is. Either way, you can now gently mix in the egg and season with a pinch of sea salt and pepper, then stir in the leeks.
Carefully tip everything into the pastry case. Gently smooth it down using the back of a spoon.
Bake in the centre of the oven for 35-40 minutes, until the edges are just looking golden and the the centre feels set. If possible, allow to sit for half an hour before cutting and serving. Refrigerate as soon as it has cooled to room temperature.