Poppy Seed and Cottage Cheese Tart

The combination of cottage cheese and poppy seeds is quite a popular one in Eastern European cooking. In fact, any pies, cakes or cookies with poppy seeds usually bring about the memories of childhood. And as always going through my pantry and fridge I noticed that I still had quite a bit of poppy seeds and cottage cheese left which needed to be used up before we left on vacation last week.

I have tried previously to make a number of things with poppy seeds but the efforts were coming up short of what I wanted. Whether the finished product just plainly did not taste good, or the poppy seeds were just not ground finely enough. This recipe addresses all those points and just hits the spot.

Ingredients:

For the dough:

  1. 125g butter, at room temperature
  2. 3g sugar
  3. 3g salt
  4. 30g milk
  5. 10g egg yolk
  6. 170g flour

For the poppy seed filling:

  1. 250g poppy seeds
  2. 2 eggs
  3. 165g honey
  4. 100g sugar
  5. 35g butter
  6. any nuts that you like, I am no putting the amount on purpose since I want you to judge by yourself how much you want/like

For the cottage cheese filling:

  1. 500g cottage cheese (I found some polish cottage cheese at the local grocery and have used that)
  2. 2 eggs
  3. 1 tsp vanilla extract
  4. Juice of 1 lemon
  5. 80g butter
  6. 70g sugar

Streussel topping (optional):

  1. 50g butter
  2. 50g flour
  3. 50g ground almonds
  4. 50g sugar
  5. a pinch of salt

Instructions:

  1. First lets start by preparing the poppy seed filling. Put all the poppy seeds into a pan and pour boiling water so that the poppy seeds are completely covered. Let stand for at least 1 hour. Then, using a small-holed sieve leave the poppy seeds to drain for an hour or so. You want to make sure that as much water is drained as possible. Then using a coffee grinder (I actually used my Nutribullet) grind the poppy seeds as fine as you can. Place aside for now.

 

2. Moving onto preparing our tart base. I have used a tart making technique here which is quite different from other tarts I have made before, just to demonstrate the various methods which you can employ when making tart bases. But you can certainly use the tart dough recipes which I have used previously. The technique used here is called a creaming method and it gets its name due to the fact that you take butter at room temperature and blend it with sugar.

3. Place butter with sugar into a bowl and beat until incorporated. Dissolve salt in milk and add to the butter mixture and process until combined. Then add the egg yolk. When the mixture is smooth add the flour and mix again.

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4. At this point I move the mixture to a slightly floured surface and using a D-scraper form a ball. Do not panic if it seems as if the mixture is impossible to handle, once it has rested in the fridge you will be perfectly fine working with it.

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5. Cover the dough in plastic wrap – flattening it slightly – and place it in the fridge for at least an hour (or you can leave it there overnight).

6. While the dough is resting you can concentrate on finishing preparations on the poppy seed filling. Take the ground poppy seeds and place them in a pan, then add sugar and honey and bring to boil. Let the mixture boil for approximately 5 minutes. Take off the heat, let the mixture cool slightly and add the eggs one by one. Do not overmix the eggs. Add the nuts.

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7. If you are making a streussel topping, prepare it now. Simply combine all the ingredients, mix well until the mixture resembles sand and place the mixture into the fridge.

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8. Now while the tart dough is still resting proceed with the preparation of cottage cheese filling. Separate the egg yolks and egg whites. Using a mixer, mix sugar and butter until well incorporated and add egg yolks one by one.

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9. Add cottage cheese, vanilla extract, lemon juice and mix well.

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10. Beat the egg whites to stiff peaks and slowly and carefully fold the egg whites into the cottage cheese mixture.

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11. Now, take out the tart dough from the fridge and line the tart case with the dough.  I have used 20cm tart case but you can also use 22cm and 25cm – there is enough dough and filling. I have discovered that it is easier to take 2 sheets of parchment paper, place the dough between them and then rolling out the dough that way.

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12. Then carefully remove the top sheet, flip the dough into the tart case. Then peel off the remaining sheet of parchment paper. Cut off any excess dough at the top of the tart base.

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13. Place the tart case into the fridge to rest for 30 minutes and then place in the freezer for a further 30 minutes. While the tart dough is in the freezer pre-heat the oven to 180c.

14. Once tart dough has rested place the poppy seed filling on the tart base.

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15. Layer the cottage cheese filling over the poppy seed filling.

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16. Cover liberally with streussel topping and place to bake for approximately 45-60 minutes. Baking time will depend on your oven.

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17. Once the pie has baked, let it cool and enjoy!

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