Thursday, May 05, 2011
Västerbottenspaj aka Swedish Västerbotten Cheese Tart
Västerbotten is an excellent hard cow's milk cheese from Sweden that reminds me (and many others) of a good youngish Parmiggiano Reggiano, but it's somewhat sweeter. Sadly it's not available in Estonia, but we've got good friends in Sweden who bring us a chunk every time they're popping over to Estonia. It is produced in the far North of Sweden, and the recipe and process has remained pretty much the same for the last 150 years or so. The Swedes love it, and it's considered the Emperor of Swedish cheeses (hence the crown on the packaging? See below ;))
You can read more about this cheese here (includes a link to the US supplier), here (Anne's Food), here and here (Wiki).
Although it's an excellent cheese for the cheese board, it's also a great cooking cheese. So far I've tried honeyed Västerbotten cheese spread, which was unusual but delicious (sweet and creamy). I got another half-a-kilo chunk of Västerbotten for my birthday (thank you, Annika & Markus!!!), and wanted to try the classic Västerbotten cheese tart. It's so simple - a plain shortcrust base, topped with a mixture of eggs, cream/milk and cheese. There are hundreds of similar recipes in the Internet, here's the way I made it.
You can serve it either hot or cold, accompanied with a nice sauce or perhaps a green salad. When cold, the tart can be cut into very thin and elegant slices that would be great as an appetizer.
Västerbottenspaj or Västerbotten cheese tart
(Västerbotteni juustu pirukas)
200 g plain flour
pinch of salt
100 g cold butter, cubed
200 ml fresh cream (single, whipping, double or even half-and-half)
200 g Västerbottens cheese, coarsely grated
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Make the pastry first. Combine flour and salt in a bowl of your food processor, then add the cold butter and process until you've got coarse crumbs. Now add the egg and process again, until the dough comes together.
Flatten the dough into a disc and wrap in clingfilm. Place into the fridge for at least 30 minutes, preferably an hour.
Roll the pastry on a lightly floured surface into a circle large enough to fill a 26 cm springform or tart tin. Transfer the dough into the tin, pressing it gently to the edge and up along the sides. Blind bake in a 200 C oven for about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven.
For the filling, whisk the eggs and cream until combined, then season with salt and pepper. Fold in the grated cheese. Pour over the partially baked pastry base.
Return into the oven and bake for another 25-30 minutes, until the filling is set and the tart is golden (do not brown).