I have been missing from this space for nearly a month. Travel to Kolkata and Bangalore and a bad cold have occupied most of my time. All the same, I have done a fair bit of baking and eating and intend to blog about it.
Mahesh’s colleagues and their better halves came over for lunch many Sundays ago. I decided to make a fruit tart as they expressed a preference for fruit over chocolate. I started with the pastry base and found to my utter horror that the sides cracked while I was trying to remove it from the dish. It could have been owing to my failure to grease the dish. I was unsure about what to do. Should I make another base? Mahesh left it for me to decide. I decided to start all over again. Smart men have a way of getting what they want as later Mahesh told me that that is exactly what he wanted me to do! I followed Rachel Allen’s recipe for the base and Joy of Baking’s recipe for the pastry cream. Here goes:
Pie crust (Source: Rachel Allen)
200 g plain flour, sifted
1 tbsp icing sugar
100 g butter, chilled and cubed [I used Amul butter]
1 egg, beaten
1. Put the flour, butter and a pinch of salt in a food processor and process briefly. I did not use the processor. Instead I used my fingertips and rubbed the butter in till it resembled breadcrumbs as had been suggested by Rachel.
2. Add half the beaten egg and continue to process. (You might add a little more egg, but not too much as the mixture should be just moist enough to come together.) If making the pastry by hand, rub the butter into the flour until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs then, using your hands, add just enough egg to bring it together.
3. With your hands, flatten out the ball of dough until it is about 2cm thick, then wrap it in cling film or place it in a plastic bag and leave in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or, if you are pushed for time, in the freezer for 10–15 minutes, before using. The website shared Rachel’s tip that the pastry should be rolled out between two sheets of cling film.
4. Line a 23cm [My tin was 21 cm] tin with the shortcrust pastry and cover the base with baking parchment. Since this was a fresh fruit tart, I blind baked at 180C for 15 minutes and then removed the beans and parchment and baked for another ten minutes. Do remember to prick the pastry before you proceed to blind bake.
Pastry Cream [ Source: http://www.joyofbaking.com/FruitTart.html]
1 1/4 cups (300 ml) milk (whole or 2%)
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
3 large egg yolks
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated white sugar
2 tablespoons (20 grams) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons (20 grams) cornstarch (corn flour)
1/2 tablespoon liqueur (Grand Marnier, Brandy, Kirsch) (optional) I did not add any liqueur
Apricot Glaze: (optional)
1/2 cup (120 grams) apricot jam or preserves
1 tablespoon water
1. In a medium-sized heatproof bowl, mix the sugar and egg yolks together. (Don’t let the mixture sit too long or you will get pieces of egg forming.) Sift the flour and cornstarch (corn flour) together and then add to the egg mixture, mixing until you get a smooth paste.
2. Meanwhile, in a saucepan bring the milk and vanilla bean just to boiling (just until milk starts to foam up.) Remove from heat and add slowly to egg mixture, whisking constantly to prevent curdling. (If you get a few pieces of egg (curdling) in the mixture, pour through a strainer.) Remove vanilla bean, scrape out seeds, and add the seeds to the egg mixture. (The vanilla bean can be washed and dried and placed in your sugar bowl to give the sugar a vanilla flavor.)
3. Then pour the egg mixture into a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat until boiling, whisking constantly. When it boils, whisk mixture constantly for another 30 – 60 seconds until it becomes thick. Remove from heat and immediately whisk in the liqueur (if using). (Stir in vanilla extract is using instead of a vanilla bean.)
4. Pour into a clean bowl and immediately cover the surface with plastic wrap to prevent a crust from forming. Cool to room temperature. If not using right away refrigerate until needed, up to 3 days. Beat or whisk before using to get rid of any lumps that may have formed.
Apricot Glaze: Heat the apricot jam or preserves and water in a small saucepan over medium heat until liquid (melted). (Can also heat in the microwave.) Remove from heat and strain the jam through a fine strainer to remove any fruit lumps.
2 mangoes and 2 Kiwis
The tart was decorated by Mahesh.
Assembling the tart
1. Apply the apricot glaze on the pie crust and let it rest for 15-20 mts. The glaze prevents the crust from getting soggy.
2. Slather the pasty cream on to the crust.
3. Decorate with fruits of your choice. Let it cool in the frige for at least an hour before you serve.