Wednesday, September 30, 2009

fall perfection

one of my favorite things to bake for a get-together at our house is alice waters' onion tart; it is full of deliciously caramelized onions and a perfectly flaky crust. it's easy to make and people love it- usually even if they don't love onions. also, it's the perfect division of labor recipe! matt makes the crust and i make the rest. yum. 

i've mentioned waters' the art of simple food cookbook before. i highly recommend it if you are looking for no-fail, simple recipes.

(i've modified the recipe a bit to the way i make it, after finding it online here)

onion tart
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons cold butter cut in cubes
  • 1/4 cup ice-cold water
  • Use a pastry blender (or fork or bench scraper) to cut the butter into the flour and salt until a few large clumps remain. Pour in 3/4 of the water and stir it in with a fork. Using your scraper, continue lifting and folding the dough over onto itself until it holds together, which should take about a minute. Add more water a few drops at a time if needed. Wrap it all in plastic and refrigerate it for at least an hour. (This is where is pays to plan ahead, my friends, and this is why Matt starts the crust and I swoop in to finish it. He's a planner; I'm an improviser)
  • In the meantime, cook two pounds of thinly sliced onions in a large skillet with four tablespoons of butter and a few sprigs of thyme. Cook them for at least thirty minutes (I usually end up cooking them for about 45), until they are very soft and juicy, keeping in mind that they will still face nearly an hour in the oven. Season well with salt. When they are cooked, cool them for at least ten minutes in a bowl.
  • (When they are cooling I usually throw in about a 2 tsp. of rice wine vinegar & a tsp. of honey. This is a non-Alice Waters variation, but I find that it makes the flavor a little more complex)
  • Preheat the oven to 375ยบ. Roll out the dough on a floured surface to a fourteen-inch circle. Pinch together any cracks that form while rolling. Place the circle on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and let it firm up in the refrigerator for about ten minutes. 

Spread the onions on the dough, leaving a 1.5-inch border all around and removing the thyme sprigs as you go. Fold the border over the onions. 

I've had the best results brushing the crust with egg wash, and sprinkling some kosher or sea salt on the crust. Cook for about 50 minutes, until the bottom of the crust is well browned. Let it cool completely on a rack-this ensures that the crust stays crisp. 


  1. I adore Alice Waters...her simple food cookbook is a perfect go to cookbook especially here in the bay area!

  2. for some reason this post made me want enormously to come and sit in your studio with you and make watercolors. it reminded me of talks in the studio back in the day...

  3. YUM. Oh I am so making this. Onion tart has so many good ol' memories :D

  4. Just found your recipes on your blog! I'm definitely going to try this one… and that prune/bacon/cheese yummy-sounding thing. :)


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