Happy first anniversary Tarte du Jour! I'm celebrating with a tarte aux fruits filled with crème pâtissière...
This month marks one year since I began this tart/food blog! I started it with the intent to share what I know about tarts and cooking but in return I have learned so much more from you, the readers. I have been especially blessed by the connections with and support from people through comments and e-mails. What a lovely and passionate group of people you are! I have learned so much more about myself... more about pastry making, about food photography, and about food writing. Thank you!
It has been a difficult year for me personally, losing my dear mother last October. It was hard to get back to the kitchen to cook and write again after she died. But she was my biggest supporter in the beginning phases of Tarte du Jour and my very first subscriber. I knew she wanted me to continue as soon as I was able. And so continue I did. So much of what I do here reminds me of her. She is, after all, the person who taught me to cook.
On to the tart... Last weekend at a party I met an ex-pastry chef who had amazing credentials. She trained at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris etc. etc. blah blah blah. Actually, she was a super gal and I instantly liked and admired her very much. (Clearly I wish I was the one who studied at Le Cordon Bleu right after college instead of working at a stressful career for a large retailer.) We got to discussing crème pâtissière (pastry cream) and she informed me that pastry cream is currently out of style and that everyone is bored with it now. What?? How could that be? But that's my absolute favorite thing to put in a tart and I do mean my all time favorite. It is a fruit tart's "raison d'être" (reason for existence). This news rocked my world.
Well, I will have none of this crazy talk. I love a traditional fruit tart filled with "unfashionable" pastry cream anyway. In fact, I decided to make this particular tart for the one year anniversary of Tarte du Jour because it is such a French classic, spotted in pastry shops throughout France. (I wonder if they have heard the bad news yet?)
I personally will pass on chic cuisine like the "foam" movement, that looks to me as if the chef very stylishly spat on my food. Or the "vertical food" movement, where you risk poking your eye out with the plate's garnishes. I do love creative and innovative food but sometimes it tries too hard to impress and then it fails. I just don't like it when the food I eat is too theatrical.
The ex-chef and I were interrupted and the conversation moved on before I could ask her more about this revelation of pastry cream passé.
The key to a rich and flavorful pastry cream is to use real vanilla beans, cut them in half and scrape the fragrant seeds from the pod. Variations are easily made by stirring in a teaspoon of Cognac or a flavored liquor into the pastry cream.
Finally, I can't end this first anniversary post without thanking my wonderful husband for all his "techie" support on this website. Without him there literally would be no Tarte du Jour. Thanks, Mike. You're the best!
And Dad, Mike, Max and Lilly... thank you for being the chief taste testers. You are my favorite people in all the world to cook for!
Tarte aux fruits
pâte sucrée - basic pastry dough - fully baked (click here)
fresh berries - I used raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries (you may use any fresh seasonal fruit)
1 cup whole milk
1/2 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped out
5 tablespoons sugar
3 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
optional - 1 teaspoon Cognac or flavored liquor
In a saucepan heat the milk, vanilla bean and sugar over medium high heat until right before it boils.
In a separate bowl whisk together egg yolks and then the cornstarch and flour. Whisking constantly slowly pour the milk mixture into the egg mixture. Pour through a sieve back into the saucepan. Heat on med-high and whisk constantly until it just thickens like pudding. (about 1 1/2 minutes)
Take off the heat and stir in butter and optional Cognac. Press plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pastry cream so it doesn't form a skin while in the refrigerator. Place in the refrigerator until it is cooled completely.
Spread the pastry cream in the bottom of a fully baked tart shell. Arrange any seasonal fruit on top of the pastry cream.
If shiny fruit is desired, then heat 1/4 cup currant jelly and 1 tablespoon water over medium heat and brush on the berries for a light glaze.
As always, I'd love to hear your comments! Please click here.