Sweet Onion, Garlic and Saffron Tart

Of all savoury tarts I think I like onion the best. In this recipe the sweet softness of boiled garlic and gently cooked onions are held in a rich eggy custard tinged with the subtle taste of saffron. Don’t be alarmed by the quantity of garlic; when cooked in this way it is sweet and mild. To make six individual tarts instead of one larger tart, use 10cm (4in) tartlet tins.


  • 250 ml (8 fl oz) double cream
  • Approximately 10 saffron strands
  • 8-10 cloves of garlic, unpeeled
  • 750 g ( lb) onions, sliced thinly
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 25 g (1 oz) butter
  • 1 generous teaspoon caster sugar
  • 1 large egg (size 2)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • Salt and black pepper

For the pastry

  • 175 g (6 oz) plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 125 g (4 oz) butter
  • 1 tablespoon water


To make the pastry, sift the flour, salt and cayenne pepper into a bowl. Melt the butter with the water, then pour into the flour gradually, mixing until you have a warm dough. Press the dough evenly over the base and sides of a 23 cm (9 in) fluted loose-bottomed flan tin. Chill for at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the cream and the saffron until just bubbling, then stir and set aside, stirring occasionally to infuse the cream with the saffron.

Place the garlic cloves in a small saucepan of water, bring to the boil, then simmer for 10-15 minutes until soft. Drain and set aside. Soften the onions in the olive oil and butter in a frying pan over a gentle heat, stirring, until soft but not browned. Transfer to a mixing bowl with any oil and butter from the pan. Pop the cloves of garlic out of their skins into the bowl, cut them in half length wise and add the sugar. Beat the cream and saffron with the whole egg and extra yolks. Add the onion and garlic mixture. Season with salt and pepper and stir.

Prick the base of the pastry case. Bake at 220°C, 425°F, Gas Mark 7 for 10 min utes, then turn the heat down to 180°C, 350°F, Gas Mark 4. Spoon the onion mixture into the pastry case, return to the oven and bake for 25—30 minutes, until the centre of the filling feels only just set to a light touch. Serve warm.