The somewhat sketchy recipe on which this one is based is adapted from The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook (Anchor Books, 1960). Miss Toklas stated that the recipe was one prepared by her Viennese servant, Friedrich, who was skilled in all sorts of fancy baking. The hazelnut tart was the last of Friedrich's pastries left after his unexpected departure from the Stein/Toklas household. I've modified the recipe so the tart has a lattice top crust, which looks more appealing and provides plenty of room for the airy filling to expand.
Makes one 10-inch tart, about 8 to 10 servings
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into 10 pieces
3 tablespoons cold water
2 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (about 4 ounces) hazelnuts, toasted, skinned, and finely chopped, but not ground, in a food processor
Confectioners' sugar for finishing
One 10-inch tart pan with removable bottom
- For the crust, combine the dry ingredients in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse several times to mix. Add the butter and pulse 3 or 4 times, or until the butter is in pea-sized pieces. Add the water and pulse only 3 or 4 times--the dough will not form a ball. Invert the dough to a floured surface and carefully remove the blade. Gently press and squeeze the dough together and form it into a disk. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate it for at least 1 hour. You may keep the dough refrigerated for up to 2 days before continuing.
- When you are ready to bake the tart, set a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator and cut off 2/3 of it with a bench scraper or knife. Form the dough back into a disk by pressing in from the sides and without folding it over on itself. Place the dough on a floured surface and flour the dough. Gently press the dough in close, parallel strokes with a rolling pin to soften it. Roll the dough to a 12-inch disk. Fold the dough in half and transfer it to the pan, lining up the fold with the diameter of the pan. Unfold the dough into the pan and press it firmly into the bottom and side of the pan. Let any extra dough hang over the rim of the pan. Chill the crust while preparing the filling.
- For the filling, whisk the eggs by hand in the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk in the sugar and vanilla. Place the bowl on the mixer with the whisk attachment and whip on medium-high speed until the egg mixture is very frothy, about 1 minute. Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the hazelnuts. Pour the filling into the prepared crust.
- Roll the remaining piece of dough to a 10-inch square. Use a pizza wheel to cut the dough into 1-inch wide strips. Moisten the edge of the bottom crust with water. Position 5 of the strips parallel to each other and about 1 inch apart on the filling, letting the excess dough from the strips hang over the edge of the pan. Apply the 5 remaining strips in the same way, at a 45-degree angle to the first ones. Press the ends of the strips firmly against the edge of the bottom crust under them and sever all the excess dough at the rim of the pan with a bench scraper or the back of a knife.
- Bake the tart until the dough is baked through and golden and the filling is set, about 40 minutes. The tart will be quite puffed when you remove it from the oven, but will fall back to its original depth as it is cooling.
- Cool the tart on a rack.