I hate pies and tarts. Rather I hate making them. I do love the process of getting the crust done – the rubbing of butter into the flour (oh and it’s good for your skin too), getting the dough together. However I drag when it is time to roll the dough. Firstly, I don’t have a huge workspace to roll out the dough (size of a chopping board). And the weather in Singapore is not helping – the kitchen tends to be humid which is nightmare when rolling out high fat content dough. The final process of placing the rolled out dough into the pan is nerve wrecking. I always make sure I have some leftover dough so I can do some patchwork.
When my food stylist friend B gave me punnets of fresh berries, I needed to figure out what to do with them. The berries were juicy and sweet – I could just pop them in my mouth non-stop. But she has given me so much and I need to use them fast (raspberries and blackberries really don’t last long in the fridge). I don’t want to make jam. So my only solution – a tart.
I flipped through a couple of cookbooks – some of the recipes just scared me. And finally, I settled on King Arthur Flour’s berry cream tart. I am a huge fan of KAF – the day I found out that Singapore is selling KAF’s flour could be the happiest day of my life. King Arthur Flour’s Baker’s Companion is also my best friend. This is one cookbook I can rely on for easy to follow recipes – savoury or sweet.
I am not going to kid you that making this tart was easy. I was glad it didn’t give me a heart attack. There were moments where I thought this tart was not going to make it. After I blind baked the tart, part of the parchment paper was stuck on it (I might have gone overzealous with my pie weight), and I needed to do some “emergency” patchwork (note: always keep the leftover dough). And when I remove the tart tin, and my crust was intact, I almost cry (the trick is be brave and be swift in removing the tin). This was one scary tart.
However as I started to assemble the tart – spreading the pastry cream, putting the berries on top and seeing how pretty the tart is – my risen blood pressure just went down. When I brought the tart to my friends’ office, everyone was going “wow” and everything was demolished. No crumbs no cream was left.
King Arthur Flour’s berry cream tart
(Adapted from King Arthur Flour’s Baker’s Companion)
There are two major component to this tart – pâte sucrée (which is a sweet pastry that falls between a piecrust and a cookie) and pastry cream. I would suggest that you make pâte sucrée first as the dough needs some time to rest. While it is resting, you can work on the pastry cream. I believed the key to making a good pie or tart is courage. It is not about whether you have the skills to roll out the dough in that perfect round shape. It is about taking that first step to make everything from scratch, and brave enough to attempt.
Make one 9”-10” tart
1) 150g pastry or all-purpose flour (I like to use half and half – pastry flour helps to achieve that crumbly texture)
2) 1 teaspoon malt milk powder (Horlicks) (optional)
3) 40g caster sugar
4) ¼ teaspoon salt
5) 115g cold, unsalted butter, cubed
6) 1 large egg yolk
7) 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8) 1 tablespoon of (iced) water
- In a mixing bowl, whisk the flour, malt milk powder, sugar and salt together. Rub in the cubed butter till you almost achieve a sandy texture. At this stage, I don’t want my mixture to be too sandy – I actually quite like it if there are some lumps of butter.
- In a measuring cup or a small bowl, whisk the egg yolk and water together.
- Add in the vanilla extract into the flour mixture – you can either mix it with your hand or with a fork.
- Slowly pour in the water and egg mixture into the flour mixture. Do not add everything into the mixture. You might not need that much liquid. The dough should be crumbly yet hold together when squeezed tightly.
- Wrap the finished dough in cling film and let it rest in the fridge for an hour before you roll the dough out.
- Once rested, remove the dough from fridge and let it set to the room temperature for a few minutes before you roll it out.
- Preheat the oven to 190oC.
- Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough ensuring that it is able to cover the tart pan. Once the pan is covered with the dough, roll out or cut off the excess dough. Do not throw away the excess dough, you might need to cover up any patches.
- Prick the pie crust all over with a fork.
- To prepare a blind-baked, ready to fill crust, weigh down the pie crust by lining it with parchment paper and fill it with pie weights.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the crust is set.
- Gently remove the weights and parchment paper, and return to the oven to bake for another 6-8 minutes, until golden brown. If you are as careless as me (yay), and some of the pie crust is stuck to the parchment, use some of the excess dough, flatten it as thin as possible and patch up any holes.
- Remove the tart from the oven and cool before releasing the tin and filling it with cream.
Berry cream tart
Pastry cream filling
1) 40g granulated sugar
2) 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3) 2 teaspoon cornstarch
4) ¼ teaspoon salt
5) 1 large egg
6) 1 cup milk
7) 42g unsalted butter, softened
8) ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
1) 570g of blueberries, blackberries and raspberries (you can also use sliced strawberries)
1) ½ cup apricot jam, melted and strained
- In a heatproof bowl, whisk the sugar, flour, cornstarch, salt and egg together.
- In a small saucepan, bring the milk to a boil. Slowly add the hot milk to the egg mixture, whisking continually to make everything smooth.
- Pour the liquid back into the saucepan, return to heat and bring back to a boil.
- Stir constantly with your whisk – the mixture will thicken quickly and whisking will help to prevent it from getting lumpy.
- Once the pastry cream boil in the centre or what I like to call burp in the middle of the saucepan, remove it from the heat, and stir in the butter and vanilla extract.
- Pour the pastry cream in a bowl and place a plastic wrap on the surface to prevent skin from forming, refrigerate and use when needed. If you like, before you pour the cream into the bowl, you can pass it through a sieve. This will help to ensure a smoother pastry cream (and get rid any “scrambled egg”).
- Once the tart is ready, pour the pastry cream into the tart shell. Using an offset spatula or a knife, gently smooth the surface of the tart.
- Place the berries neatly on the tart. I did a few rows of blueberries, then a row of raspberries and a row of blackberries. Though I love a rustic tart, this is the one time I feel the need to be orderly and neat.
- If you are not going to serve the tart immediately, add the glaze to keep the berries looking their best.
- Melt the apricot jam, thinning it with a little water if necessary. Strain or scoop out any solids.
- Brush the glaze over the berries to seal the top of the tart.