Why you’ll love it
Tarte soleil is a beautiful French recipe made by filling then shaping puff pastry into a sun shape. Served as a pull apart appetizer, it tastes amazing and will wow all your guests.
Known in French as tarte au soleil (sun pie in French), it can have so many filling variations from pesto to feta and spinach to this one with creamy and flavourful Gruyere cheese and ham. There is no mistaking the flavours here – every bite of this pretty cheese and ham puff pastry tart is rich with ham and cheese, a little hint of mustard and freshness of herbs.
Never Miss a Recipe!
Get the latest recipes straight to your inbox!
Ingredients you’ll need
Jump to the recipe for full ingredients and instructions.
- Puff pastry: Store-bought puff pastry is all you need here. All butter puff pastry tastes best but any type of puff will work. I use Careme puff pastry here. Whichever you use, you want the sheets to be about 27.5cm / 11 inches or thereabouts. If it’s slightly smaller you can gently roll it to make it the right size.
- Dijon mustard: The mustard is not a bold flavour here, rather a background hint of something special. It tastes lovely.
- Oregano/Herbs de Provence: Just about any dried herbs will work here. You just want something that will add some freshness (ironic since they’re dried herbs but it really works). I use oregano because I always have it on hand and it’s a great combination. You can give it a more classic French flavour by using herbs de Provence, or just use Italian herbs or any other that you like.
- Gruyere cheese: Gruyere cheese, a Swiss cheese, has a creamy, slightly salty and nutty flavour and it just works a treat here but a good cheddar will work too. Stick to something aged so that it has a more complex flavour.
- Ham: Make sure to use a thinly sliced or shaved ham as it’s easier to cut through and twist up.
- Parmesan cheese: While optional, the parmesan cheese adds a lovely saltiness to the edges of the crunchy pastry. Please use fresh Parmesan and shred it yourself. Don’t use the shelf stable variety.
- Egg wash: The egg wash is just a simple mix of egg yolk and milk, brushed over the top before baking to give the tarte soleil a lovely golden colour.
Other great filling ideas are; spinach and feta; olive tapenade; sun-dried tomatoes pesto; basil pesto; garlic, cheese and parsley. While most often a savory filling, there really is no right or wrong with a tart soleil so maybe try some nutella or jam inside instead?!
How to make tarte soleil (step by step)
Before we get started on how to make this gorgeous ham and cheese puff pastry tart, it’s important to note that puff pastry will soften quickly at room temperature but you’ll get the best rise and puff from cold pastry. All this to say, have all your filling ingredients ready before you start and don’t skip the first chill time. This is especially true for all-butter puff pastry.
Jump to the recipe for full ingredients and instructions.
- Cut the pastry: Find yourself a plate or large dish with a diameter of around 27.5cm / 11 inches. Lay it upside down onto one sheet of pastry and cut around it, then repeat with the second one.
- Chill: Chill the pastry on a round baking tray, baking paper under each, until it’s very cold again before proceeding so you get a great puff at the end.
- Fill the tarte au soleil: Spread the mustard over the bottom layer (photo 1) then sprinkle over the dried herbs (photo 2). Now carefully lay on the ham in an even layer (photo 3), followed finally by the grated gruyere cheese (photo 4).
- Add the top: Now lay the second dough piece on top of the tart filling and press it down at the edges onto the bottom sheet.
- Cutting the tart soleil shape: Place a small ramekin upside down in the centre (photo 5). Now cut the tart from the ramekin out to the edge in 4 places (think north, south, east, and west) (photo 6). Now you have 4 quadrants. Cut each of those quadrants into 4 strips cutting just from the edge of the ramekin to the outside edge (photo 7) until you have 16 sun rays in total (photo 8).
- Twisting the sun rays: Holding the outside edge of one of the rays, gently lift it, holding so the filling doesn’t fall out and twist twice (clockwise or anti-clockwise is fine) (photo 9). Press that outside edge down onto the tray once you’ve done it so it stays in place. Now repeat that with all the other rays (photo 10).
- Finish off: Brush all the parts of bare pastry that you can see with the egg wash (photo 11). Use your fingers to mix the parmesan and remaining herbs together then sprinkle them over the centre portion and all around the outside edge of the ham and cheese puff pastry tart (photo 12).
- Bake: All that’s left to do is bake it for 25-30 minutes until golden and looking mouthwateringly good. Serve immediately.
Ham and cheese tart soleil needs to be served immediately while still hot so the cheese stays gooey. Once it cools, like anything with melted cheese, the cheese becomes a bit rubbery so hot is definitely best.
Making it ahead
As easy as this cheese and ham tart is to make, it just got better because you can make it ahead of time too. You can fully assemble the tart then instead of baking it right away, wrap it well in plastic wrap and store in the fridge for up to 2 days or the freezer for up to 3 months. You can thaw it overnight in the fridge before baking the following day.
You’ll love these loaded mini baked potatoes too.
No. There is no need to cook the puff pastry first. Fill it, then bake.
The most important tip I can give you when working with puff pastry is to keep it as cold as possible prior to baking. Letting it warm up will allow the fat in the dough to melt and you won’t get the great puff. Work quickly or chill often.
Did you try this tarte soleil recipe?
Leaving a rating and comment below the recipe is so helpful!
- 2 square pre-rolled puff pastry sheets (all-butter is best)
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano or herbs de Provence
- 125 g finely shredded Gruyère cheese (1 ¼ cups / 4 ½oz)
- 100 g thinly sliced or shaved ham (3 ½oz)
- 1 egg yolk beaten with a teaspoon of milk
- 2 tablespoons finely shredded parmesan cheese (notes 1)
For best results, always weigh ingredients where a weight is provided
- 12 inch round or large baking sheet
- Small ramekin
- Sharp small knife
- Thaw the pastry in the fridge overnight or a couple of hours before you start.
- Leaving the puff pastry sheet on the paper or plastic it was packaged on, give each one a gentle roll, if necessary, out to 27.5cm / 11 inches.
- Place an upside-down plate of the same diameter on top, and cut around the edge with a knife, setting aside the offcuts and see the notes, below.
- Place a sheet of baking paper over the top of the first circle of dough, flip it over, remove the packaging sheet and drag it onto a baking tray. Leaving the second circle of dough on the packaging paper, drag it on top of the first one. Chill in the freezer for 15 minutes or fridge for 30 minutes – especially important if using all butter puff pastry. The colder you keep the puff pastry during this process, the better it will rise and puff up.
- Preheat the oven to 200C (180C fan forced) / 400F.
- Take the pastry out of the freezer and set the top piece aside. Leaving the bottom piece on the tray, spread over the mustard leaving a 1cm border all the way around, then sprinkle over the 1 teaspoon of the herbs. Cover with the slices of ham and finally the grated Gruyère.
- Place the second sheet of puff pastry over the top and peel away the backing paper from it. Press down all around the border. Chill again if it’s too soft again.
- Place a 5cm / 2 inch ramekin or similar upside down in the centre of the circle and press down just slightly to indent.
- To cut the solar rays, make 4 evenly spaced cuts from the ramekin to the edge of the pastry dough using a sharp knife (so it looks like 4 quarter slices connected in the middle). Cut each of the four quadrants in half, then cut each of those in half, so you have 16 strands in total.
- Take the outside edge of one of the strands and twist it clockwise 2-3 times, pressing the border flat against the paper at the end. Repeat with the remaining strands. If they’re sticking up at the edges, just press the corner of each one onto the next one. You can easily cut through that join once it’s finished baking.
- Brush the egg wash (egg yolk and milk) all over the top. Make sure the egg wash doesn’t pool anywhere as that spot will burn.
- In a small bowl mix together the parmesan and remaining ½ teaspoon of herbs. Sprinkle it in the centre and around the outside edges of the sun rays.
- Bake for 26-30 minutes until deep golden brown on top then serve straight away. If you aren’t ready to serve it yet, keep the unbaked tarte soleil in the fridge overnight or in the freezer until you’re ready to bake. Make sure to wrap it well in plastic wrap though.
- Please take a moment to leave a comment & rating. It's appreciated and so helpful.
- Tablespoons: I use a standard Australian 20ml tablespoon (equal to 4 teaspoons). Check yours before measuring.
- Pastry off cuts: Brush a little melted butter over the puff pastry scraps, then sprinkle over cinnamon sugar (mix 1 teaspoon cinnamon to 1-2 tablespoons of sugar, to taste). Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden.
- Nutrition details are approximate only – scroll below the recipe to find the full nutritional information.
This post may contain affiliate links that earn me a small commission for my referral, at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting Sugar Salt Magic.