It’s back to reality after the holidays, kids back to school (they weren’t too thrilled!) and we’re back to work. All the build up for the holidays and poof it’s gone in a blink of an eye. We spend a lot of that “spring” cleaning. It feels good to start the year off without clutter. I’d like to know where it all comes from, seriously I think it multiplies. I hate the clear outs but I love the results. It motivates me to try new things and let the creativity flow.
For Christmas my husband and I try to be creative and feed our hobbies for gifts. We don’t need stuff per se. The Great British Bake Off has lit a bit of a fire under us to branch out in the baking arena and I knew we were going to bake through the break. I found a fluted tart pan with the removable bottom for my husband. Imagine my surprise when I opened the same gift from him! Luckily we got two different sizes. Great minds!
Have you ever wanted to bake something and you follow recipes and it comes out completely differently? Boy did that happen to me. I wanted to make tarte au citron that Mary Berry does. I started everything and realised I didn’t have all the ingredients. You’d think I was new at this. So I thought well the set lemon tart is a set lemon tart so I used Julia Child. I ended up with a strange lemon flavoured whipped meringue tart. Tasted good but definitely not what I was going for. So I need to get the ingredients for the tarte au citron and try it again! But I did like the sugar crust so I made it again and decided to use Julia Child’s crème pâtissière. I could eat bowls of that!
For the crust I used Mary Berry’s recipe for the crust. It’s not difficult but it is very fiddly. The sugar weakens the structure. You also want to keep the butter cold through this process.
In a food processor add 6oz of flour, 3 1/2 oz of butter cubed, and 1oz of icing sugar.
Pulse until well blended. Add one egg yolk and 1 tablespoon of cold water to the food processor.
Pulse again to blend. Now her recipe says it would come together in clumps. So far it hasn’t done that for me but when you test it you want the mixture to stick together when pressed.
Tip out onto to the counter and press the mixture together firmly until the pastry comes together in a ball. The trick is to not overwork the crust and make it tough.
Wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for 15 minutes. Lightly grease the tart pan. Now the directions state to lay out parchment paper and to place the bottom of the tart on the paper. Draw a circle that is an inch and a half bigger than the tart bottom. This is to give you a guide when rolling out the pastry. I made this crust twice this week and tried it the first time and didn’t do it the second. For me it didn’t make a difference but if it helps you go for it. Flour the bottom and the paper and place the pastry in the centre.
Flatten out the pastry out then roll. This is where the swearing begins. Did I mention it is fiddly? Keep the rolling pin floured because it will stick! This is the most frustrating part of the whole process.
Carefully fold the pastry in on itself so the bottom shows. Drop it into the tart frame.
Carefully press the pastry into the flutes. A trick that is mentioned is to use spare pastry to press in the pastry without poking holes into it. That works somewhat. You can also use a knuckle. Just keep the nails away! Allow a bit of overhang as the pastry will shrink when blind baking.
Use a fork to dimple the base without poking completely through. Chill for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven at 400F/200C. When ready to bake line the pastry with tin foil and fill with dry beans.
Bake 10-12 minutes. Remove the tin foil and the beans. Trim the excess pastry off the edge. Bake again until it is golden brown and cooked through. Unfortunately I got sucked into Star Wars. I was getting my geek on! So I was just a few minutes late in getting back to the oven. So it browned a little too much!
Set the pastry aside to cool. On to the crème pâtissière! This isn’t difficult but you need a bit of elbow grease with the whisk. I added a bit more milk to Julia Child’s recipe because I didn’t want it to be overly thick but yet have it set.
Using a mixer gradually mix in a cup of granulated sugar into 5 egg yolks. Keep beating until the mixture forms pale yellow ribbons.
Gradually and slowly pour 2 1/4 cup of milk that has been brought to the boil. You need to do this slowly because you don’t want to scramble the eggs with the hot milk. Add the mixture into a large saucepan and put it over medium heat. Keep whisking while it comes to a boil. It will get thick before it gets smooth again.
Once it comes to a boil, lower the heat and whisk it for a couple of more minutes to cook the flour. Remove from the heat.
Add a tablespoon of butter and 1 1/2 tablespoons of vanilla extract.
Mix well and let it cool. Once it is cool enough spoon it into the pastry crust. Let it set in the fridge until it is time to serve. Slice fruit of your choice. We had some lovely strawberries to use up. Dust with icing sugar.
Not going to lie, this was delicious. With dishes like this I won’t bother with resolutions to lose weight! I mean, who am I kidding. :)