This is the third of my petit four bakes. Sorry there has been such a delay.
A simple tart is elevated into a patisserie by the use of barquettes, or boat tins. I use a delicate and fragile pâte sucrée (sweet pastry) for these tarts. I will explain now why sweet pastry is hard to handle. If you don’t want to be bored with the science, skip to ingredients.
Science of Shortcrust Pastry
When we make shortcrust, we rub the butter into the flour. The butter coats the flour particles and prevents any of the gluten particles from forming – any contact with liquid will start the gluten forming. This is the flour protein which gives elasticity to bread doughs. The principle of a short pastry is that the gluten strands are short. The sugar stops any gluten being made meaning the pastry is crumbly. Whilst a crumbly pastry is good in a professional kitchen, it is difficult to work. Overworking the pastry can make it tough and it can shrink back during baking.
- The fat is straight from the fridge.
- Use a food processor to make the pastry; else use refrigerated cutlery.
- Weigh out accurately using digital scales.
- Place the weighed flour and sugar into the fridge.
- Use icing sugar over caster sugar and granulated sugar; they can cut through the pastry – icing sugar blends better
- Always blind bake pastry unless the recipe specifies otherwise.
- Always flour the surface when rolling out pastry.
- Always roll pastry to 0.5cm or 5mm thick.
Look, I agree that putting the cutlery and flour into the fridge is excessive, but pastry is cruel if you don’t do it right. My sweet shortcrust is simple and I use a processor to make it. Again, you can substitute butter for Stork – I use baking spread as it is cheaper and I think has a better flavour
250g plain flour
50g icing sugar
½ egg yolk – to do this, I whisk in a bowl and take approximately half of the mixture
1 tsp ice cold water, only if needed
- Sift the flour and icing sugar into the food processor. Add the Stork and pulse until it goes to the breadcrumb stage.
- Add the egg yolk until the pastry comes together into a ball. Even if it doesn’t look like it will come together, use a knife to scrape down the sides. Hopefully it should come together but if it doesn’t, feel free to add a tsp of ice cold water.
- When it just comes together into a ball, tip out onto a large sheet of clingfilm. Wrap the pastry into the fridge and chill for 30 minutes or until needed.
3 egg yolks
20g plain flour
125g caster sugar
¼ jar apricot jam
Selection of your favourite fruits – I chose grapes, frozen raspberries and cranberries but you can always use fresh fruit
- Defrost your raspberries and cranberries overnight. Allow all of the juices to escape – even if you think it has all gone, some will still leak into the crème pâtissière, but this doesn’t really matter. I think it looks better adding a contrasting colour to the crème pâtissière making it more vibrant.
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Remove the pastry from the fridge and get your barquettes or other tart tins. Roll out the pastry on a floured surface until 5mm thick. Keep turning often and never change direction of rolling – always rotate the pastry.
- Either roll the pastry over the rolling pin and lay over the tins and press into the tins using a small bit of pastry or use a large cutter and cut out circles and lay into the tins and press into the tins. Prick the base of each tin with a fork to allow steam to escape – this is called docking.
- Line each tin with a sheet of baking parchment or foil and fill with baking beans or rice. Blind bake for 15 minutes, removing the paper and beans after and baking for a further 5 minutes or until fully dried out. When done, remove from the barquettes and cool on a cooling rack.
- Make the crème pâtissière by putting the milk into a pan and warming gently. Mix the yolks, sugar and flour in a large bowl. Whisk vigorously to get rid of lumps. When the milk is warmed, pour onto the egg mix, whisking and returning to a medium heat. Stir continuously with a wooden spoon.
- As it gets close to thickening (you can tell by scraping the bottom of the pan), remove the pan from the heat often so that it doesn’t thicken too far. If the crème pâtissière is too thick, it will have a poor texture and cannot be poured into the tartlets. Pour into a shallow bowl to cool. Cover the top of the custard with some clingfilm, preventing a skin from forming. If possible, make this the day before so it has time to fully cool.
- In a separate pan, heat the apricot jam with 2 tablespoons of water. It should be silky and shiny.
- Fill each tart with some crème pâtissière. Top with some halved grapes and frozen berries which are defrosted. Using a pastry brush, brush the tart and fruit with the apricot glaze for a professional finish.
Mix some of the crème pâtissière with some whipped cream for a richer filling.
Make the crème pâtissière beforehand and fill the shells for an elegant dessert.
Don’t overfill your cases as I have done as the fruit will push it out.