Baked Tart with Goat Curd
Fergus Henderson’s St. John is the restaurant that launched a thousand pig logos—and many imitators. Since it opened in 1994 in a whitewashed former smokehouse next to London’s wholesale meat market, St. John and Fergus Henderson have become much-copied gastronomic icons. It is easy to see why Henderson is held in such high regard by fellow chefs. With the restaurant’s commitment to nose-to-tail eating and food that is unadorned, almost to the point of stark minimalism, the menu at St. John does not compromise. It is true to itself.
In the kitchen, Henderson is self-taught and has never worked under any other chef. He is acutely concerned with the ritual and symbolism of eating. This orientation, combined with his professional training as an architect, is reflected in a sense that Food Is Art at St. John. The capitalization is important, and it is reflected in the manner in which Fergus himself speaks, with pithy aphorisms delivered from behind his owlish glasses.
Goat curd is soft, fresh goat’s milk cheese generally sold in a tub. It’s easy to find in the UK and Australia but, as yet, rare in the States except at some farmers’ markets. If goat curd is unavailable, young, soft, very fresh logs of rindless chèvre will suffice as a substitute. The beverage recommended to drizzle over the tart, Marc de Gewürztraminer d’Alsace, is an Alsatian brandy. Henderson notes, “I like the way the recipe says one bottle of Marc, taking into account the chef’s needs.”
Heat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 10-inch springform cake pan and line with parchment. Place it on a baking tray.
Place the goat curd in a large mixing bowl. Add the lemon juice and zest, and whisk together with a balloon whisk until light and fluffy. The curd (or chèvre) has a tendency to get stuck in the whisk, but don’t be tempted to use an electric mixer as it will overwork the curd.
Whisk together the eggs and sugar briefly. Add them little by little to the goat curd mixture, whisking constantly. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake pan.
Bake for about 1 hour, until golden brown. It will still have some wobble when it comes out of the oven but will set as it cools down. To serve, cut the cheesecake into slices and pour 1 to 2 tablespoons of Marc over each serving.
Written by Francis Percival
Photography by Keiko Oikawa