After a busy period at work and going home for my sister’s wedding, I’m back with a post for you! I’ve got several on the go at the moment, but this one is going to be the easiest and quickest, as tart’s go it’s a relatively simple “assembly” job – it’s my homecoming tart for my housemates who’re arriving back off honeymoon this afternoon after being away for a month! And well I’ve been watching the blackberries in our back garden over the past couple of weeks and after coming back they’re finally ready and the birds have been attacking them, and I couldn’t let them go to waste!
It’s made up of four (five if you count the base) layers; the base, crème pâtissière, blackberry coulis, chantilly cream and a the fruit layer with raspberry coulis.
The most technical part of this bake is the crust. But it’s not so difficult to make really, just keep it cool and don’t work it too much so that you end up with a crisp short case, rather than a tough greasy one.
225g plain flour
25g ground almonds (these are optional, but add a great texture to the pastry, they also help in drying out the pastry aiding towards a crisp, short result)
50g icing sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
175g unsalted butter chopped into 1cm cubes
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 tablespoon icy water
It’s really important not to overwork the pastry dough, otherwise your pastry could end up rubbery and greasy, rather than short and crisp. I have the world’s worst hands for pastry making, they’re always hot no matter if it’s icy and cold outside. This melts the butter and causes it to go greasy. So I try not to touch the dough as much as possible and use a pastry blender to create the breadcrumb texture we need to begin with.
- Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl and add the cubes of butter
- Either rub the butter into the dry ingredients with your fingertips or use a pastry blender to create a breadcrumb texture.
- Combine the egg yolk, vanilla and water and add to the other ingredients. Using a fork, work the mixture until a dough begins to form.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and your dough should turn into a smooth soft dough. Remember don’t overwork the dough a few kneads and it should be the correct consistency.
- Shape into a round and wrap in cling film and pop it in the fridge…
- Pre-heat the oven to 180˚C and grease a 25cm fluted tart tin with butter and place to one side.
- Take the dough out of the fridge and on a floured work surface roll out to approx. 30cm in diameter.
- Using your rolling pin, roll the pastry up and place over the top of the tart tin, being careful not to let the edges of the tin cut the pastry at this stage.
- Once you’re happy that the pastry is sitting in the tin correctly, carefully press the pastry into the flutes using an off cut of pastry so you don’t put a finger through it. Next cut the edges down flat to the top of the tin. Traditionally pastry should be as thin as possible (this allows it to cook quickly and stops the dreaded ‘soggy bottom’). So at this stage what I do is tap the pastry so it peeks up just above the tin, this allows for inevitable shrinkage in the case. When you’re happy with this it’s time to prick the base with a fork to allow steam to escape from underneath to stop it billowing and it’s time to blind bake it. I ran out of baking paper so I used foil instead, but basically line the case with foil and put the baking beads in.
- Bake for approximately 20 minutes at 180˚C and remove the baking beads and trim the edge down to the top of the tin, it shouldn’t shrink any further now, return the case to the oven and bake for a further 10 minutes, or until it’s an even golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool a little before removing from the tin.
…at least 30 minutes later
If you’ve never made crème pâtissière before, give it a go. It’s really simple and is a great skill to have because it comes in useful when baking all kinds of french pastries. I forgot to take any photos at this stage, but it’s simple, the most important step is step three; tempering the eggs.
4 egg yolks
1 tablespoon cornflour
75g caster sugar
250ml whole milk
- Place the egg yolks, cornflour and caster sugar in a bowl and whisk together.
- Heat the milk in a saucepan until simmering, turn the heat off.
- Start by whisking the egg yolk mixture and then pour a third of the milk onto it, whisking all the while. This is tempering the eggs and stops them scrambling. Pour the egg mixture into the saucepan with the rest of the milk and turn the heat back on.
- Whisk the custard until it thickens.
- Place in a bowl and put cling film over the top to stop a skin from forming and pop in the fridge until we’re ready for it later.
A coulis is basically a thin fruit jam with the pulp removed. I made two different (wait what’s the plural of coulis?!)
couliss coulis’s coulises coulis’ a blackberry one to use as an overall layer and a raspberry one to finish it off on top. You don’t have to make both, it was just a decorative decision I made.
50g jam sugar
50g caster sugar
- Place the ingredients in a bowl and heat until simmering, stirring continuously.
- Simmer for 5 minutes then remove from the heat
- Using a hand blender, blend the coulis to ensure any remaining pulp is combined into the mixture
- Strain the coulis, discarding any seeds.
This is just posh name from cream that’s been sweetened and flavoured with vanilla. Again, I forgot to take any photos. Whoops!
600ml double cream
4 tablespoons icing sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
- Place all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk together until the cream holds soft peaks.
- Gently hand whisk to get the correct consistency for piping. (Although I hand whisked it all, because I’ve still yet to replace my whisk that I broke making my croissants!)
- Spoon the crème pâtissière into the base of the tart case and smooth to create an even layer, put in the fridge for around 30 minutes to allow to set.
- Spoon the blackberry coulis on top of the crème pâtissière, being careful not to mix the two layers together.
- Spoon the Chantilly cream into a piping bag fitted with a round nozzel, using concentric circles piping the cream on top of the coulis. I had some issues here, the cream did not want to stick to the coulis, so on the first circle I stuck the cream to the side of the case to begin with, then on the second layer the cream stuck to itself. Using the back of a spoon flaten the cream layer down.
- Decorate the tart with blackberries in concentric circles, followed by two circles of raspberries followed by another ring of blackberries. This is then holds in a raspberry coulis and the whole dessert is finished off with a blackberry in the middle (it just looked odd without it!)