Monday, 12 August 2013

Blackberry Tart

I used to love making pies.  When I was 16, I decided that I would learn how to make a good crust and from that point on for many years, apple pie with the flakiest crust was my thing.  Then Christmas 1999 came along, mixed with a few family politics and a great deal of stress, I lost it.  I made three crusts and none of them turned out, then I burnt my arm taking the pie out of the oven and that was it.  I never made pie again.  Which was tragic because honestly, I love pie.

Then I came across this recipe for a tart.  As terrified I was of pastry, I couldn't stay away any longer. The time had come to reclaim my love of pie, well, in this case, tart.  What I LOVE about this recipie is you don't need to have everything ice cold, you don't even need to roll out the dough.  You just mix it together in a bowl and tumble it into the tart pan and press it into place.  The tart shell does all the work to make it look like you have been slaving for hours.

So when my husband asked for a fresh fruit tart for his birthday, I knew this would be it.  Blackberries are in season right now and free.  All you need to do is go and find yourself a dripping bush and fill your bowl.  This tart is light, creamy with a lovely crisp crust which is lovely against the creamy filling.  You need not be a french pastry chef to make this, but you sure will look like one.  If only I had known about this method sooner, there would have been no need for such a long pie drought.  Yes, I know this isn't exactly the same, but once you get your confidence with one thing, you build it up for others, that is the beauty of cooking.

For the crust:
adapted from French Taste by Laura Calder

1/2 cup softened butter
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour

Heat oven to 400℉ Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl with a wooden spoon until light and creamy.  Stir in the vanilla.  Mix in the flour to make a dough.  Tumble into an 8 inch tart pan and press into place.  Line with parchment paper and fill with dried beans up to the top.  Bake for 15 minutes.  This is called blind baking and helps the crust not to puff up.  Take out of the oven, remove the paper and beans and put the tart shell back in the oven at 325℉ for 20 minutes.  Remove and let cool completely.

Vanilla Cream
adapted from French Taste by Laura Calder

1 cup milk
1/2 vanilla bean cut lengthwise
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp flour
1/4 cup heavy cream, whipped

Put the milk in a saucepan with the split and scraped vanilla bean and heat just before it comes to a simmer.  Turn off the heat, remove and cover for 10 minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until light and creamy.  Once the milk is ready, gradually whisk it into the egg mixture.

Pour this back into the sauce pan, add the flour.  While you are bringing this to the boil, keep stirring so that it doesn't scald.  If that does happen, don't panic!  You are going to thin this with whipped cream later anyways.  Once this is nice and thick, remove from heat and let cool completely.  Once it is cooled, add 1/4 cup whipped cream and fold in. This will make a lovely, light and fluffy cream that you could eat with a spoon. 

To assemble:

Remove tart shell from the pan and place on a cake plate or other serving dish.  Pour in the vanilla cream.  Lovingly add your blackberries starting from the outer edge and winding into the center.  You can either serve this straightaway or put it in the fridge to chill.  While not as conventional as a cake, this really is wonderful for a birthday. 


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