So yesterday was the 4th of July, and we were invited to my parents’ house for a BBQ. My mom asked me to bring a dessert, and I immediately thought of my Berry Tart that was such as success at a pot luck we went to last summer. It’s actually fairly simple to make, but looks impressive, and always gets looks of surprise and comments like, “You MADE that??” I think those types of comments are the biggest compliments to me. When it looks like something that no one would normally attempt to make on their own, and I’ve managed to recreate it from scratch. That’s probably why I dabble in cheese and bread making- because these things are usually left to the professionals. But I can prove that it’s possible for the everyday person to accomplish a delicious, homemade, version.
Anyway, back to the tart! Making it consists of about 3 stages, with one final detail that can be left out if preferred, but in my opinion, gives it that finished look. First, you need to make the dough. In French, we call this dough a “pâte brisée ” and it can be used for sweet or savory dishes. The recipe consists of butter, flour, a little salt, cold water, and sugar if you will be using it for a dessert. The easiest way of making it is by throwing all of the ingredients into a food processor (with the regular sharp blade), turning it on, and waiting for the dough to come together. Then you should wrap it up in plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator to rest and cool. After about 30 minutes, it’s ready to be rolled out and put into a tart pan. The type of pan
I use is nonstick, and has a bottom that comes out, so that the tart can easily be removed after baking.
After putting the dough into the pan, it’s best to refrigerate it again for 10-15 minutes, and put some pie weights
in the bottom to keep the dough from bubbling while baking. Next bake the dough for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees until it is lightly golden brown.
While the pie crust is baking, you can make the pastry cream that goes inside. This recipe comes from my Larousse des Desserts. In France, Larousse makes dictionaries and encyclopedias, so this is basically my “encyclopedia of desserts.” The recipes are fabulous! For this particular one, you warm 40g of caster sugar, 30g of corn starch, and 350 ml of whole milk in a small heavy-bottomed pot with a whole vanilla bean, cut in half. Make sure to scratch the inside of the vanilla bean into the milk, so that the seeds mix in with the milk and infuse it with vanilla. Bring this mixture to a boil, while stirring it constantly with a wire whisk. In a medium bowl, mix 4 egg yolks with 40g caster sugar. Add 1/2 of the hot, thickened, milk mixture and stir. Then put everything back into the put, and bring it back to a boil, stirring constantly. Once it begins boiling, remove it from the heat, and transfer it back to the medium bowl. Put the medium bowl in a large bowl of ice to cool. Once the mixture reaches 120 degrees F, add 35g of butter at room temperature. Stir well, and smooth the mixture into the tart crust (cooled, with pie weights removed, of course!).
The next step is to add whatever seasonal fruit you have on hand, in thin slices, in any design you like. For the 4th of July, I used some fresh strawberries, and some blueberries, to give the tart a nice festive look. My finishing touch for the tart is to heat up some pomegranate jelly and brush it on top of the fruit with a pastry brush. This gives it a nice shiny, finished look. It also prevents the fruit from drying out in the refrigerator.
Here is a picture of the finished product!