This really is a stunning and delicious puff pastry appetizer with a feta-cream cheese spread. The photos on Smitten Kitchen look so much better than mine – but I feel like I’m giving you a more realistic version of this recipe, because we can’t all make things look quite so perfect. I love the olive tapenade filling, and the feta spread is amazing. I was able to put it all together, to high praise from the devourers . . . but I’m not going to lie to you . . . it was a little tricky, and doesn’t quite look like the supermodel version I thought I’d be presenting.
It still looks pretty, and tastes amazing, but it was hard to make the rays look as uniform as the original. The biggest problem was that I baked it for double the time the recipe specified, and it was still not flakey in the middle . . . and yet the people loved it.
The only planning ahead you need to do is to thaw the puff pastry overnight in the fridge, or four hours minimum.
What you need for the tarte soleil:
- 1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes in oil, drained
- 1/3 cup pitted Kalamata olives
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano or 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano leaves
- 1 large garlic clove, crushed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil or oil from tomatoes, plus more if needed
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 packages puffed pastry (I used La Baguette & l’Echalot)
- 1 egg yolk beaten with 1 teaspoon water (for egg wash)
- 1 tablespoon sesame or poppy seeds to sprinkle (optional)
What you need for the dip:
- 170 grams/ 6 ounces feta, crumbled
- 55 grams, 2 ounces cream cheese
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- salt to taste, or none if your feta is very salty
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
What you do:
- To make the filling, combine the sun dried tomatoes, olives, oregano, garlic, olive oil and pepper in a food processor. Blend until finely chopped. Thin it with some olive oil if it doesn’t seem spreadable.
- Heat the oven to 350F.
- Roll the first package of puff pastry out on a large piece of parchment paper until it is about 30cm/12 inches in diameter. Use a 30cm round bowl or plate as a guide to cut the pastry into a circle. Put this pastry in the fridge, then repeat the process with the other pastry.
- Place the first pastry, still on its parchment paper, on a baking sheet. Spread the filling over the pastry, leaving about 2cm around the edge uncovered. Dab the edges with water and then place the other pastry on top.
- Place a small glass into the centre of the pastry as a guide, so you do not cut all the way into the middle. Cut the pastry into quarters from the edge of the glass out to the edges, at the 3, 6, 9 and 12 o’clock marks. Cut each quarter in half, then each in half again, until you have 32 strips. If the dough becomes difficult to work with you can put it in the freezer to get firmer (or if your freezer is too small, you can just do your best with it, like I did.)
- Remove the glass and begin the twisting; place a finger near the centre circle so that the strip doesn’t break off, and twist each strip a few times.
- Beat the egg yolk with 1 teaspoon of water and brush it over the pastry. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes (or much longer in my case) until the pastry is golden brown.
- While the pastry is in the oven, make the feta dip. Blend all the ingredients in a food processor until they are smooth.
- Remove the tart from the oven and let it cool for about 10 minutes. To serve, place it on a serving tray and tear off the rays and dip them in feta or spread it on to eat.