Wednesday, April 28, 2010
This is not a tart. This is an ode to your taste buds. This is the best of sweet things. This is the beginning of my love story with pastry cream.
It must be a family thing because my mum loves pastry cream. She doesn't like cakes (I know, weird), she's not a fan of frosting or layers of flour and butter. But she loves pastry cream. You ask her what does she want for her birthday and she answers 'anything with pastry cream'.
I myself used to like pastry cream but I was way too terrified to make it. I thought it was the hardest of things and any attempt to make it was gonna end up with a bunch of curdled eggs.
Oh my! how wrong was I! Not only is it delicious but so easy to make, you're gonna want to whip up a batch a day!
Now, I know you feel like you could eat this with a spoon. But I promise you can even make it better. Just slice some of these...
Now you've reached tart perfection. You and my labmates, because this tart went to a work event and they all loved it!
Oh, I almost forgot... what if I told you you're gonna make a crust that doesn't shrink in the oven? Well, write this recipe down, or even better, go for the printable version
Unshrinkable sweet tart crust (from Dorie Greenspan)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick very cold unsalted butter cubed
1 large egg
Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a bowl. Mix in the cold cubed butter, working it with your hands, until pebbles form. Add the egg and keep working the dough until it comes together in a ball. Chill for 30 min. Roll the dough to a size big enough to cover your tart pan. Place the rolled dough in the pan and press it hard against the edges. With a fork, poke holes all over the crust. Cover the surface with plastic wrap.
Now here's the trick. Freeze the tart for at least 30 min before baking. I made it in advance and froze it overnight. Freezing the dough is gonna prevent it from shrinking in the oven, making it, for real, the perfect tart crust. Bake the tart at 350 F for about 20 min, or until golden brown.
Pastry cream (different sources)
3 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups of milk
1/2 cup heavy cream*
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup granulated sugar
*You can change the proportions and add more cream if you'd like.
Bring milk, cream and sugar to a boil in a saucepan. In the meantime, whisk together the egg yolks, the cornstarch until the mixture turns pale and forms ribbons. Once the milk mixture boils, turn off the heat. Take a tablespoon of the milk mix and add it slowly to the egg mixture while whisking it. This will help temper the eggs, that is, bring them to the right temperature so they don't curdle when you add the rest of the milk. Now start whisking the egg mixture and add, all at once, the milk and cream. Keep mixing until you have a homogeneous mixture and then return the liquid to the saucepan. Heat the mixture until it comes to a boil. I kept cooking for about 3 minutes after that. Keep in mind, the longer you cook it, the thicker the cream. Just remember to keep whisking the cream during the whole process. You can flavor the cream by adding a couple teaspoons of vanilla extract. If you do so, add it always at the end, with the heat off.
Transfer the cream to a bowl and cover the surface with plastic wrap so it doesn't form a skin. Chill for a couple hours, preferably overnight. I didn't have time to wait for it to cool down too much so I chilled it for about 30 min and then transferred to the tart shell.
Once the cream is chilled you can proceed to assemble the tart. Slice about a half a pint of strawberries and or any other berry you like. Add the pastry cream to the tart and level it up to get a smooth surface. Place the berries on top. Serve cold.