I made this delicious tart this morning from a recipe by Melissa Helmsley which she donated to the #bakeForSyria charity campaign. It makes a lovely lunchtime meal, with its delicate short almond pastry contrasting with the light egg custard, creamy cheese and sweet figs.
#CookForSyria came from the heads of award winning pseudonymous Instagrammer ClerkenwellBoy and Serena Guen (founder of Suitcase Magazine. The pair originally came up with the idea to curate one charity dinner, for one night with one chef in aid of Unicef UK’s humanitarian work helping children and refugees affected by the crisis in Syria.
This quickly became a large scale charity banquet with six headline chefs which sold out within in days.
Leveraging the power of social media, top chefs, cookbook authors and families with links to Syria were encouraged to get involved by sharing their favourite recipes online with a #CookForSyria inspired twist – so that anyone could host their own charity supper club at home, bake sale or just learn about the amazing cuisine and culture of Syria.
As Syrian and Middle Eastern inspired recipes flooded in, it made sense to share these beyond social media and in the form of a beautiful not for profit recipe book, Cook for Syria,which has been curated by ClerkenwellBoy and Serena Guen.
The success of the first book has led to the publication of the second, #BakeForSyria, this year; the powerhouse duo have been joined by wonderful Lily Vanilli, the founder of the Lily Vanilli Bakery and the Young British Foodie Awards. #BakeForSyria brings together the best bakers from around the world to create the tastiest baked goods in aid of Unicef’s appeal for the children of Syria.
This dish was donated by my lovely friend Melissa Hemsley to #BakeForSyria, who says “I adore Syrian food and through working with Team #CookForSyria I have been able to enjoy learning so much about Syrian flavours, ingredients and the Syrian love of sharing food.”
For the pastry case
375g ground almonds
2 tsp sea salt
½ tsp bicarb soda
30g butter at room temp
2 medium eggs, organic free range if possible
For the filling
1 tbsp butter
1 large (red) onion, finely sliced
2 fat garlic cloves, finely diced
5 eggs, organic free range if possible
250ml almond milk or regular milk
100g cherry tomatoes, halved
1 large handful fresh parsley
1 tsp dried thyme or oregano / rosemary
or 1 tbsp fresh
1 tsp sumac
Sea salt & black pepper, to taste
4 medium figs, halved
1 Mix the pastry ingredients by hand to form a dough. Roll into a 3mm-thick disc between two sheets of baking parchment. Line a 24cm-diameter ceramic flan dish or tart tin with the almond pastry, trimming away any excess. Line the pastry case with greaseproof paper, fill with baking beans and chill in the fridge for 20 mins.
2 Preheat oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas mark 6.
3 Put the bean-filled, chilled tart case in the oven to bake for 10 mins. Remove the baking beans and paper and cook for a further 10 mins until slightly browned. Set aside and reduce the oven temperature to 190°C/fan 170°C/gas mark 5.
4 Meanwhile, gently fry onion in the butter in a large pan for about 12–15 mins until caramelised. Add the garlic for the final few mins.
5 In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and almond milk. Add the onion and most of the crumbled feta (saving a little extra for topping) before seasoning with salt and pepper, thyme and sumac.
6 Pour the egg mixture into your pre-baked tart case. Top with the halved cherry tomatoes and halved figs (cut side up) and push them down slightly. Crumble over the remaining feta and a sprinkling of parsley.
7 Cook for 35 mins until golden brown on top and just set in the middle. Allow to cool for 15 mins before diving in.