After covering some of the different types of bread in the course last month we progressed on to pastry. We started with one of the trickiest, the pâte sucrée.
There are different methods for making pâte sucrée. As you can see from the recipes here (which I have reproduced to the “T”), most chefs do away with giving proper instructions about how to make a sweet pastry.
At college though, it is a different matter. We don’t use the machine to knead bread, we do it ourselves. Same goes for frangipane, savoury or sweet pastries. I totally agree for, once you can do it by hand, you can certainly do it by machine.
Because we all already knew how to rub in the ingredients, we did the creaming method which basically means creaming the butter and sugar by making it light and pale which will give it air and produce a much lighter crust.
This pear and frangipane tart is a French classic. The recipes I am giving here come from Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver. Both do away with pastry instructions. Gordon uses puff pastry (ready-made).
In case you want to do it the way it is in the photo I am also including a recipe for pâte sucrée from Michel Roux. He is an institution and I can’t wait to lay my hands on his new book appropriately called Pastry (appropriate for me, that is, since as I said we will be covering just that this month in college). Incidentally, he had dinner at the college restaurant last month.
With the same pastry case we did two fillings: one was the pear and almond tart and the other was a Tarte au Citron, another French classic.
I found that the filling for this tarte au citron was very, very similar to that of the lemon pie. I would use it any day for that.
Pâte sucrée – by Michel Roux
Makes about 1 pound
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and softened
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
1. Mound flour on your work surface and make a well in the center. Place butter, sugar, and salt in center of well and mix together using your fingers. Slowly incorporate flour into butter mixture, using your fingers, until a slightly grainy dough forms.
2. Make a well in the center of flour mixture and add eggs. Using your fingers, slowly incorporate flour mixture into eggs until dough begins to come together.
3. Using the palm of your hand, knead dough a few times until smooth. Roll dough into a ball, wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 to 2 hours before using.
Tarte au citron – by Gordon Ramsay
- 5 unwaxed lemons
- 6 eggs
- 250g golden caster sugar
- 200ml double cream
- icing sugar , for dusting and decorating
- 375g block dessert pastries
1. Finely grate the zest of 3 of the lemons into a bowl. Halve all the lemons, then use a fork to squeeze out all the juice and pulp into the bowl with the zest – don’t worry about the seeds. Crack the eggs into a separate bowl, then whisk in the caster sugar until completely combined. Whisk in the cream and lemon juice mix, then set aside.
2. Place a 23cm tart ring or loose-bottom flan tin on a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper. On a surface dusted with icing sugar, roll out the pastry to the thickness of a £1 coin. Lift onto a rolling pin, then drape over the tart ring or flan tin, leaving the excess hanging over the edge. Carefully press the pastry into the sides with a small ball of pastry. Put in fridge or freezer for 20 mins to allow pastry to chill.
3. While the pastry is chilling, heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Prick the base of the pastry case, line with greaseproof paper and baking beans, then bake for 15 mins. Remove the paper and beans, then bake the case for 5-10 mins more until it is biscuity brown and crisp. Lower oven to 150C/fan 130C/gas 2.
4. Use a ladle to push the lemon custard through a sieve into a bowl, pressing down on the pulp to extract as much juice as possible. Skim the bubbles from the surface of the custard, then pour the custard into a jug. Pull the tart out of the oven slightly, then pour in the custard so it comes to the top. You may have some left over. Push tart back in, then bake for 35-40 mins until the top forms a light crust and the custard is just set. Leave to cool, then chill.
5. While the tart is cooling, make the berry salad. Place a large non-stick frying pan over a medium heat and scatter the icing sugar over the base. Heat until the sugar dissolves and caramelises. Throw in the berries, toss with the sugar, then splash in the sherry vinegar. Bubble for a min until everything is just starting to soften, then tip onto a plate and leave to cool slightly.
6. Use a serrated knife to trim away the pastry and make a neat edge. Dust the tart lightly with icing sugar, then use a blowtorch to caramelise the top. Leave the top to set, then repeat the process so that you get an extra-thick layer of caramel. Stir the mint through the berries. Serve the tart in slices with a bowl of the berry salad on the side.
Tip – Blowtorch
Caramelising the tart with a blowtorch turns the top into a kind of crème brûlée.
Pear and frangipane tart – taken from Cooking for Friends by Gordon Ramsay
This beautiful and delicious tart is so quick and easy to make. It can be served warm or at room temperature, and is ideal fodder for a lavish picnic.
300g ready-made puff pastry
1 egg yolk, beaten with 2 tsp water, to glaze
2 large or 3 medium-ripe pears
For the sugar syrup:
50g caster sugar
1 cinnamon stick
2 star anise
Juice of 1 lemon
For the frangipane:
75g butter, softened to room temperature
75g icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
1 medium egg, lightly beaten
75g ground almonds
2 tbsp plain flour
1½ tsp amaretto
1 Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to about the thickness of a pound coin, and use a 20cm round cake tin as a guide to cut out a neat circle. Transfer the pastry to a baking sheet, lightly score a 1½-2cm edge round it and brush this rim with the egg wash to glaze. Chill while you prepare the filling.
2 Place all the ingredients for the sugar syrup in a small saucepan and stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat and simmer for 10 minutes until thickened slightly, then leave to cool.
3 Meanwhile, beat together the butter and sugar for the frangipane. Slowly add the egg, mixing until fully incorporated, then fold through the ground almonds and flour. Finally, mix in the amaretto. Let the mixture stand for 5 minutes.
4 Peel the pears, then cut each in half lengthways. Remove the cores with a melon baller and discard. Cut each one lengthways into thin slices, place in a large bowl and pour over the cooled sugar syrup. Leave to macerate for a few minutes while you preheat the oven to 190C/Gas 5.
5 Spread a layer of frangipane over the pastry round, leaving the glazed rim clear. Drain the pears, dab dry with kitchen paper, then arrange on top in a concentric circle. Sift over a little icing sugar. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until the pears are tender and the filling is golden and set. Remove the tart from the oven, leave to cool slightly and brush with the remaining syrup.
And just so that you don’t feel cheated, here is yet another version of the same tart, this time by Jamie.
Chocolate and pear tart – by Jamie Oliver
Serves 4 to 6
• a pack of ready-made shortcrust pastry
• 125g ground almonds
• 2 large free-range or organic eggs
• 125g butter, softened
• 95g caster sugar
• 185g dark chocolate, melted
• 3 conference pears, peeled, cored and quartered
• crème fraîche, to serve