Another day, another challenge 20


Butter tarts anyone?

 Eggless butter tarts
By now people who know me well enough are more than just aware of my egg allergy, while some of them look at me in disdain with the whole how-can-you-bake-if-you-don’t-eat-eggs look others just refuse to believe. I still don’t get what the whole hullabaloo around eggless baking is all about but what I do know is that most of these incredulous looks fade away the minute they bite into a slice of chocolate cake, eggless of course!
Even though the allergy seems to be fading away now (maybe its age!) I don’t want to take a chance with it so in my quest for eggless baking; I’ve tried substitutes right from curd, flax meal, banana, apples, buttermilk, vinegar and a few dozen others. Some have worked brilliantly well while others have turned out to be absolute flops. It was during one of these random ‘quests’ that I stumbled upon Gayathri’s blog and saw that she and a group of wonderful food bloggers are into an eggless baking challenge every month. It was just perfect, I’ve wanted to try my hand at baked goodies other than cakes that can be made without eggs but the lazy bone in me always prefers the easy way out. So this was just the right thing for me.
For this month’s challenge we had to bake butter tarts. Now I’m not too fond of butter so even if I stepped into a bakery/deli butter tarts wouldn’t definitely be on my plate. As I was reading the recipe that was given to us, I was trying to imagine what it would taste like but just imagination wasn’t helping. Before I say anything more let me also tell you that any dessert that has a lot of butter doesn’t get my vote, I mentally start calculating the extra rounds of suryanamaskar I’ll need to do if I have even a bite of it! So back to the tarts, I went to a bakery nearby and picked up a butter tart one evening, the flaky pastry base had me go ‘wow!’ but the filling was too buttery and eggy for my liking so I knew this was something I had to work on. 
I was mulling over using applesauce or condensed milk for the filling, but I wasn’t convinced with these two options. When a vegan friend mentioned that she uses corn flour or arrowroot powder to replace eggs in baking, I decided that the neutral flavours of these binders would be just ideal for the tarts, the filling would set and the buttery taste would still be intact. And yes, it worked very well! The tarts came out warm and golden from the oven. The filling was just melt-in-the-mouth (I know this because my mom couldn’t resist a second helping) and the nuts on top just added the right amount of crunch and for me; they helped mask that buttery flavour which would have otherwise been a damp squib!
For the pie crust pastry
1 ¼ cups of all purpose flour
1 tbsp of white sugar
½ cup of butter, unsalted and cold – cut into small pieces
½ cup of cold water (approx)
¼ tsp of salt
In a mixing bowl place the flour, salt and sugar; mix well until it has all combined. Now add the butter to this and mix well using your fingertips or a pastry blender until the entire thing resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Slowly add the water to this, just enough to bind the dough. Shape the dough into a log, cover with cling film and allow it to rest in the fridge for about an hour.
One hour later, remove the dough from the fridge. Grease the mould of a muffin tray and keep aside. Roll out the dough on a floured surface until it is about ¼ inch thick. Cut the dough into circles and fit it into the muffin moulds. Keep in the fridge for about 30 minutes and allow it to set.
For the filling
½ cup of butter, softened
¾ cup of white sugar (I ran out of demerara sugar so I’d to settle for this one)
1 tsp of vanilla essence
1-11/2 tsp of corn flour
½ cup of milk
2tbsp of nuts, crushed (I used almonds and pistachios)
Place a saucepan over a low flame and add the sugar to this, allow it to caramelize and when it starts turning brown add half the milk, all of the butter and stir well until combined. You will have a slightly runny caramel sauce mixture. Add the corn flour to the rest of the milk, stir well to eliminate lumps and then add this into the saucepan. Keep stirring continuously until the sauce reduces and forms a thick, almost custard like mixture. Check the level of sugar and adjust if required, add the vanilla essence just before you take it off the flame. Allow it to cool down for about 15 minutes until it is just a little above room temperature. 
The custard-like texture of this filling results in a delicious finished dish
To assemble the tarts
Remove the muffin trays from the fridge and spoon the prepared filling into them. Sprinkle with the crushed nuts and brush the sides of the tarts with milk or vegetable oil, this helps to prevent them from burning. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 160 degrees Celsius for 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven, cool them down for a bit and serve warm. 
The nuts not just add flavour but also a lot of crunch
  • The next time around I’m planning to make the pastry base with whole wheat flour, I think the slightly nutty hints will go well with butter.
  • You can also add fruits to the filling, mashed bananas or apple will work very well.
  • Experiment with flavours, a hint of cinnamon or cardamom will work for this tart too. 

 I’m sending this to Bake Fest#6 at Sumee’s Culinary Bites which was started by Vardhini of Cook’s Joy

And here’s what my fellow bloggers who took part in the challenge did, check out the round-up at Gayatri’s space here


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