Recipe: Osterfladen, Switzerland’s Easter Tart

According to Patrimoine Culinaire Suisse, the first tarts resembling today’s Osterfladen (German) or Gâteau de Pâques (French) may have been made as early as the 16th century. It has found that several sources pinpoint Basel, Switzerland, as their birthplace. These Swiss tarts for the Easter season generally contain either rice or semolina. You can find these tarts at bakeries and supermarket in different sizes, but it’s especially rewarding to make your own at home.

Osterfladen (German) /  Gâteau de Pâques (French)

My local bakery uses semolina and a thin layer of apricot jam. I asked the baker there several years ago, and he told me he preferred using semolina over rice because it makes a lighter tart. I have tried making both, and I like the semolina version better, which you’ll find in my recipe below. Many Osterfladen also contain raisins, but I have opted to make it without them.

osterfladen

Osterfladen


INGREDIENTS

Pastry dough:
– 200 g (about 1 2/3 cups) all-purpose flour
– 1/4 teaspoon salt
– zest of one lemon
– 75 g (1/3 cup) unsalted butter, cold
– 1 egg, lightly beaten
– about 1-2 tablespoons cold water

Filling:
– 3 to 4 tablespoons jam (e.g., raspberry, apricot or cherry, etc.)
– 200 ml light cream
– 200 ml milk
– 2 tablespoons (24 g) unsalted butter
– 3 tablespoons (35 g) semolina
–3 egg yolks
– 100 g (1/2 cup) sugar
– zest of 1 lemon
– 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
– 100 g (1 cup + 1 tablespoon) ground peeled almonds
– 3 egg whites
– a pinch of salt


Topping:
powdered sugar

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Prepare the pastry dough. Whisk the flour, salt and lemon zest in a large bowl. Add the cold unsalted butter to the bowl in pieces. Cut the butter into the flour mixture with a pastry blender, two butter knives or your hands until it becomes the size of small pebbles. Make a well in the center of the mixture, and add one beaten egg and two tablespoons of cold water. Form the mixture into a dough, adding up to one additional tablespoon of cold water, as necessary. Wrap the dough in parchment paper and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

2. When the dough has chilled, prepare a tart pan with a diameter of approximately 30 cm (11.5 inches). If it doesn’t have a non-stick coating, grease the pan with a little butter and line it with parchment paper. Then, roll out the dough into a circle with a diameter of about 3-5 cm (1-2) inches) larger than the pan, so the dough will come up on the sides. Gently place the dough in the pan and fold over any excess dough to create a smooth edge. Prick the surface of the dough with a fork, to prevent it from bubbling up when it bakes.

placing the dough in the pan
Prick the the pastry with a fork to prevent air bubbles from forming in the dough when it bakes.

3. Then, spread about 2-3 tablespoons of jam on the dough. Place in the refrigerator to chill while you prepare the filling.

spreading the jam in the pastry shell
Spread the jam evenly in the pastry shell, and then place the pan in the refrigerator.

4. Whisk together the milk, cream, semolina and butter in a medium-sized saucepan. Stirring this mixture frequently, bring it to a boil and then immediately reduced to medium heat. Simmer this mixture for a few minutes, stirring often, until it becomes a thin paste. Take it off the heat and let it cool.

While the semolina mixture is cooling, mix together the egg yolks, sugar, lemon juice and zest until well combined. Then, stir in the ground almonds. Whisk the cooled semolina mixture so it has a smooth texture without any lumps. Pour the semolina mixture into the egg yolk mixture, stirring constantly so it doesn’t start to cook and curdle the eggs. Set aside.

Add a pinch of salt to a bowl with the egg whites. With an electric mixer, beat them until they form stiff peaks. Carefully fold them into the semolina and egg mixture, just until they are well incorporated.

Remove the prepared pastry dough in the pan from the refrigerator and pour in the filling, so its evenly distributed in the pan.

filling the pastry shell
Make sure the filling is evenly distributed in the pastry shell.

5. Bake at 180° C / 350° F for 30-40 minutes until the filling has set and the pastry and surface of the tart has turned golden brown.

osterfladen
The tart will come out of the oven with an inflated, domed top.

6. When the Osterfladen has fully cooled, sprinkle its surface with some powdered sugar. If desired, use a rabbit stencil to decorate the tart.

osterfladen
As the tart cools, the filling with deflate slightly.
osterfladen
When the tart has completely cooled, dust its surface with powdered sugar.

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