For those of you who are visiting my humble blog for the first time, welcome! You probably have come here because I have shared with you my blog address during the Mayer at Expo fair, and you probably want to get your hands on my tart recipe, which I have shared with some of you but eventually got lazy to list down all the ingredients and steps repeatedly. And hey, sharing with you my blog brings in more traffic so welcome! ;p All photos are taken with my iPhone5 and somewhat edited with instagram (these pictures are found on my instagram feed).
I don’t have many (or any) pretty pictures of my tart shells because I was so busy churning these little beauties out for the demonstration, but here’s one that I managed to take (when I remembered). Because I was working in an aircon environment in the expo, the pastry was very pliable, and for the longest time too. Now I know why aircon is so important when working with pastry, especially if you have warm hands like me. I even sneakily tried to do some puff pastry on the side, and boy oh boy, I could do at least 3 turns of the pastry before the gluten toughened up and wayyy before any of the butter softened! Note to self: install aircon in the living room/kitchen next time :]
Just compare the tart shells above to the one I took back in August 2011, almost 2 years ago below. Although the shot below is more nicely styled and the colour more authentic, as you can see, my technique has improved quite tremendously – my tart shells don’t look as rustic, and the lines are clean and sharp (most of the time). Of course, since it isn’t the same recipe, it could be because as the BSB forward says, the pastry recipe is meant to shrink and be rustic, but I choose to believe it’s thanks to two years of experience making tarts at home (and perhaps the aircon environment) :] One very very important tip I have, assuming you are as lazy as me and refuse to blind bake your tarts, is to make sure to freeze the unbaked pastry shells for at least 3 hours or better yet overnight before you actually bake them. Freezing the pastry shells means that you no longer need to bother about the sides shrinking (as you can see from the clean sharp edges of my tarts above – I seldom blind bake because of the hassle). The only problem that still remains is that the insides and base of your tart will look a little wonky and uneven because the inside will puff and deflate a little when baking. But that’s okay with me because the tarts are going to be filled anyway and the ugly insides can no longer be seen. If however you’re a stickler for perfection inside and out, then be my guest and use those rice/beans/weights to blind bake!
This is different from my pâte brisée recipe from BSB, which is more of an all-purpose tart/pie shell recipe which you can use for sweet or savoury tarts. This pâte sucrée, or sweet pastry crust, is purely for sweet tarts only. This was, not coincidentally, the same tart recipe that I used which got me second runner-up in the Savour Bake-off competition! As I have showcased during the competition and during the demonstration, this crust recipe is really versatile, in the sense that you can make almost ANY type of tart with it – chocolate-caramel tart, fresh fruit tarts (for a different recipe check out my other fresh fruit tarts), passionfruit curd tart, lemon meringue tart, pistachio-strawberry tart, anything that suits your fancy really!
My favourite still is a fresh fruit tart, mainly because I love fresh fruits (especially strawberries), and the pairing of pastry cream together with the crispy tart shell and juicy strawberries can’t be beat, unless well it’s a chocolate tart hehe. But I can definitely devour more fruit tarts than chocolate, so fruit tarts are the definite winner here. And here’s a sneak preview of the chocolate tarts which I made. You can substitute cocoa powder in the recipe below to make chocolate pie crusts, but I chose to go with another Pierre Herme recipe, which produced a less sweet and more chocolatey tart. Stay tuned for the recipe coming real soon!
- 150g unsalted butter
- 90g icing sugar
- 30g ground almonds
- 250g all-purpose flour
- 1 egg
- ½ tsp sea salt
- ½ tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
- Using a food processor: Add flours, ground almonds, salt and icing sugar in a food processor and pulse for a few seconds to sift. Add the diced butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add in the egg and vanilla extract and process until the mixture forms a ball. Remove from the food processor and shape the dough into a flat disc. Wrap with cling wrap and refrigerate. Chill for about 20 minutes or overnight.
- Using your hands or a pastry cutter: In a large mixing bowl, sift flours, ground almonds, salt and icing sugar together. Add in the diced butter, and using only your fingertips, gently ‘rub in’ the butter into the flour by squishing the butter between your fingertips while ensuring it is coated with flour. Repeat until all the butter is smashed and smeared and the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add in the egg and again using your fingers, incorporate the egg and vanilla extract until the breadcrumbs come together to form a ball. Gently knead the dough on a clean countertop and shape it into a flat disc. Wrap with cling wrap and refrigerate. Chill for about 20 minutes or overnight.
- Using a mixer: You can also choose to use the creaming method. I find the dough slightly softer and less crispy for this method. Cream the butter with the sifted icing sugar and sea salt until fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla extract and mix on low speed until it is incorporated. Then, add in the sifted flour and ground almonds and mix on low speed until no flour streaks remain. Shape the dough into a flat disc. Wrap with cling wrap and refrigerate. Chill for at least 1 hour or overnight.
- Bake the tart crust: Preheat the oven to at 180ºC. Roll out the dough to a thickness of about 3-5mm. Cut a circle using a 3” round cutter. Line the tart case with the dough, and trim any excess dough. Repeat for the other tart cases. You may freeze or refrigerate the remaining dough. Gently prick the dough with a fork to remove excess air. Freeze the tart crusts for at least 10 minutes to minimize shrinkage. Line the tarts with baking paper and dried rice or beans and bake for about 20-25 minutes at 180ºC, or until the tart crust turns a golden brown. Cool the tarts in their cases for about 10 minutes, then remove to cool on a wire rack.