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Blue cheese tart with French puff pastry

Feuilletée au fromage, or Jalousie au fromage

Source: Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume One

Choosing to make this recipe came from a desire to try making puff pastry. Volume Two of Mastering the Art of French Cooking dedicates a large chapter to French bread, puff pastry and savoury recipes using these doughs (and dessert recipes in a later chapter). So I set out to make French puff pastry for a savoury blue cheese tart.

Classic French puff pastry, pâte feuilletée fine, has 729 layers of butter between 730 layers of dough, requires a minimum of 6-7 hours to make, and is used for only the most elegant French pastries. More casual French baking often uses a simpler puff pastry, pâte demi-feuilletée or pâte semi-feuilletée, which typically contains 72 layers of butter between 73 layers of dough (although it can be pushed to 648 layers of butter), and only takes 3-4 hours. But since much of that time is for resting the dough, puff pastry (and most pastry doughs) can be prepared days in advance and refrigerated, or months if frozen.

I was starting with the simpler puff pastry, pâte demi-feuilletée. I prepared the dough and made the first 2 folds the evening before. In morning, I did the final 2 folds. Then refrigerated the finished puff pastry until the evening when it was ready to make the tart.

Making puff pastry (pâte demi-feuilletée)
Making puff pastry (pâte demi-feuilletée)

If you’ve ever made pie dough (pâte brisée), then making puff pastry is a natural progression. You start with a dough similar to a pie dough… the magic happens when you start layer in the butter and start the folding.

The trick and learning curve is getting the butter to be pliable while still cold. The recipe clearly describes and illustrates how to do this… and while newbies (myself included) will be reasonably successful on the first try, better results will come with practice.

With my puff pastry finished and rested in the fridge, assembling the tart was relatively quick and simple. The pastry bottom is lined with slices of blue cheese, folded over like a galette to form a rim, and a cream-egg sauce mixture is added. Top it with a latticed puff pastry layer, chill, then bake.

This blue cheese tart is crispy, crunchy and packed with flavour, between the blue cheese and the butter-packed pastry. It’s rich without being heavy. Easily serves 6 people (or 8 appetizer portions).

As a bonus whenever working with puff pastry, dough trimmings are saved to make delicious palmier cookies!

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