Two weeks ago, Dave and I had a crowd over to celebrate his birthday and our move. Both were belated – his birthday’s in July and our move was in May. Well. We move a little slowly over here sometimes. But the party was a great excuse to make an excess of treat food, because there would be lots of people to share. Since I’m not much of a baker of cakes, and last year for Dave’s birthday we had pie, and because Pinterest is full of beautiful pictures of them, this year it was tarts.
(Making those tarts was also about justification. Had I not bought and moved a tart pan in the anticipation of making tarts in my new and improved kitchen? Had my Gramma not given me pie weights to better facilitate the blind baking of my tart shells? The pre-party tidying made me appreciate that I had put neither to work in our new home. Story conclusion: Our party had two tarts – one blueberry-almond, and one chocolate-hazelnut. Mm mm good.)
I loved this tart. Now I want to cover everything in that crispy-gooey sugar-almond-egg mixture which I learned is called frangipane. Cover everything in frangipane, please. It goes golden and crumbling, and it smells like sweet tooth satisfied. Plus, it holds the blueberries in place, which I appreciated because I made beautiful circles with them. (It also covered most of those blueberries up, but hey – hidden delights. I can work with that.) Completely birthday tart material. I am also happy to vouch for this tart’s quality as a hungover breakfast food. What a stellar way to start the day.
Notes: Want to be speedy? Buy a pre-made tart case and ground almonds and skip the first 3 steps. Not bad. And because I might have been over ambitious in my blueberry-studding, while my tart was baking there was some filling overflow that now graces the bottom of my oven. If you’re worried about the same, consider baking your tart on a cookie sheet – it’ll catch any overzealous drips.
from A year in my kitchen
pastry for 1 tart shell (or half of the following recipe)
flour, for dusting
1 cup almonds
1 cup sugar
1 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla
6 egg yolks
about 1 cup blueberries or blackberries
1. Prepare the tart shell: On a large surface lightly dusted with flour, roll the pastry until it forms a large circle about 3mm thick. Place it in a 25cm tart tin, pressing into the corners to ensure it is snug. Trim excess pastry from the edges, and use the tines of a fork to dot the base a few times. Place in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.
2. Remove the tart shell and line it with parchment paper. Fill it with pie weights (or dried beans or rice), and blind bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Carefully lift out the parchment paper and associated weights, and place the tart shell back in the oven for an additional 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
3. Prepare the filling: Roast the almonds on a baking tray at 350 degrees for 3-4 minutes – just enough to get them slightly fragrant. When cool, use a food processor to grind them coarsely (or, alternatively, chop them up into many little bits). Set aside.
4. In a large bowl, use an electric whisk (or a regular whisk and a lot of your patience) to cream the sugar and butter smooth. Whisking until just incorporated after each addition, add: vanilla; egg yolk #1; egg yolk #2; egg yolk #3; egg yolk #4; egg yolk #5; egg yolk $6; ground almonds.
5. Assemble tart: Scrape the filling into the cooled tart case. Arrange as many berries as you can fit inside by gently pressing them into the filling.
6. Bake it: Bake the tart at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until golden-brown. Allow to cool to room temperature before serving.
from A year in my kitchen
4 cups plain flour
pinch of salt
1 cup butter, chilled and cubed
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
zest of 1 lemon, finely chopped
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
1/3 cup ice water
1. Sift flour and salt onto a large clear surface, forming a small mountain. Sprinkle butter, sugar, vanilla and zest over top. Using a pastry cutter or a knife, chop the new additions into dry ingredients until roughly combined.
2. Use your hands to make a depression in the centre of the flour mixture. Pour in the egg, yolk and water. Use the pastry cutter or knife to cut in the liquids until incorporated.
3. Collect the dough into a ball, and push it away from you with the heel of your hand. Collect it back into a ball and repeat until combined. Smears of visible butter are ok! Knead lightly for 1 minute. Wrap in waxed paper and place in the fridge for 20 minutes to chill. Alternatively, freeze the dough to use later.
* Makes enough for 2 tart cases.