4ouncescold, unsalted butter, in 1/2" dice, (8 tablespoons/1 stick)
2tablespoonsbuttermilk, sour cream or crème fraîche
2tablespoonsice water, more as needed
1poundJapanese or small globe eggplants, sliced into 1/4-1/2" thick rounds
2garlic cloves, pressed
1 1/2poundssmall, flavorful tomatoes (about 8 or 9, see headnote), cut into 1/4" thick rounds
1/2cupfinely grated parmesan
1/3cupfresh goat cheese, crumbled
1/4cupbasil leaves, thinly sliced, plus some pretty leaves for garnish
1/4cupheavy cream or half and half
freshly ground pepper
Make the crust:
In a large bowl, stir together the flours, sugar and salt. Scatter the butter pieces over the flour, and rub in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles sand with lots of pea-sized butter chunks. Stir together the buttermilk and ice water. Drizzle this mixture over the flour mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with a rubber spatula, until the dough will hold together when you give it a squeeze, adding more ice water by the teaspoon directly to the dry bits as needed.
You can call it here, or you can do either or both of the steps below for extra flake:
Option 1 - fraisage:
Dump the dough out onto a counter, divide it roughly into 8 portions, and fraisage by dragging a portion of dough across the counter using the heel of your hand. Scrape up the dough (a metal bench scraper works well here), gently press it into a ball and flatten into a disc. Slip it into a plastic bag, and chill for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 days.
Option 2 - roll, fold, roll:
On a lightly floured surface, roll the chilled dough out into a rough square that is about 1/4" thick. Fold it in thirds like you're folding a letter, then roll up from a skinny end into a loose spiral. Gently press to flatten it slightly, and chill for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Remove the dough from the fridge, unwrap, and place on a lightly floured surface. Roll out the dough into a 12" circle, dusting the dough lightly with flour as needed, rotating and flipping it to prevent it from sticking. Ease the dough into a 9 or 10" tart pan (or a 9" glass pie plate), fit it into the corners, and trim it to a 1" overhang. Fold the overhang into the pan, pressing to adhere so that the sides are double-thickness. Trim away any excess dough, and prick the crust all over with a fork. Save the scraps to patch any post-par-baking holes, and/or to make a future franken-crust.
Chill the crust for 20 minutes, then freeze it for at least 20 minutes, until solid.
While the crust chills, prepare the eggplant:
Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 450ºToss the eggplant slices with the garlic and olive oil, and spread on a lightly oiled sheet pan. Bake until the eggplant begins to brown, 10-15 minutes, flipping the slices if they are browning on the bottom but not the top. Remove and let cool.
Par-bake the crust:
Position a rack in the bottom third of the oven, and reduce the oven temperature to 400ºPlace the frozen crust on a rimmed baking sheet. Line the crust with a piece of parchment paper or foil, and fill with pie weights, dry beans, or clean pennies, pressing the weights into the sides and corners of the crust.
Bake the crust for 15-20 minutes, until the dough will hold its shape when you lift off the parchment, then remove the weights and parchment and bake until the bottom is dry and lightly golden, about 5 minutes longer. (If there are any holes in the crust, patch them with a tiny piece of dough scrap.) Reduce the oven temperature to 350ºF.
Assemble the tart:
Cover the bottom of the par-baked crust with the parmesan, then crumble the goat cheese over, and top with an even layer of slivered basil. Layer the eggplant and tomato slices–alternating between eggplant and tomato–in concentric circles, beginning with the outside and working inward. Use small pieces to fill in any gaps, so that the crust is completely covered.
Make the custard and bake the tart:
In a measuring cup, whisk the eggs to break up the yolks, then whisk in the cream, salt, and a good grinding of black pepper. Pour the custard over the vegetables.
Carefully transfer the tart to the oven and bake until the custard is set, firm to the touch, and doesn't jiggle when you give it a shake, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool to warm on a wire rack. Garnish with basil leaves.
Serve the tart warm. Leftovers will keep well for up to 3 days–re-heat before serving.
Adapted from Once Upon a Tart.Unless you have scraps with which to make a franken-crust, use your favorite pie dough, or the recipe below. The cultured dairy adds extra tenderness and flake, but you can leave it out, no problem - just add extra ice water.See this post on making puff pastry for pictures of the fraisage/folding/rolling process. (You may wish to make a double batch of dough if you do these extra steps; double-wrap it and store it in the freezer for up to several months.) Also note that a metal pan will conduct the heat more quickly than a glass or ceramic pan; if you use a metal pan, check the par-baking crust earlier than suggested.Dry-farmed tomatoes are my favorite, but you can substitute flavorful, ripe Romas or San Marzanos. Small, fresh eggplants tend to be mild and sweet, and don't usually need to have the bitterness sweated out. If yours are more elderly, toss the slices with a couple teaspoons of salt and let them sit for 30 minutes, then pat them dry, and taste a roasted slice before adding more salt to the recipe.Nutritional values are based on one of eight servings.