Little French Tart

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This little French tart is a staple at boulangeries throughout Paris, and though undeniably faffy to make, it really is easier than it seems and so, so worth the trouble. It’s perfect for a goûter, the afternoon snack that’s so critical to French culture. One of many reasons I love this country.

This recipe comes from the, frankly bloody amazing ‘Grand Manuel du Patisserie’, which is the best book I have ever seen on the subject. But bear in mind the book is in French.

I used their recipe for the Tarte aux Fraises – but I made a tarte aux framboises, because raspberries are everywhere at the moment and I love them. The quantities below are for my little tart tin on account of my teeny-tiny oven, which happily serves six people. I basically halved the recipe from the book for my six-inch tart tin, so it’s simple to just double it.

The tart is composed of the shell (pâte sucrée), and the filling (a mix of crème frangipane (an almond meal paste) and crème patisserie (thick custard), baked together and then finished with some jam and a tumble of berries. It’s a gorgeous project if you’ve got the morning to spend on it, and my friends have happily gobbled it up every time I’ve made one.

Now full disclosure – this is a little faffy to make, just because of all the different steps. I happen to be a sucker for punishment, but buying your own pastry can cut down the faff significantly. The frangipane and crème pât can be made in advance and kept in the fridge for a couple of days before hand, and the pastry can be made the night before.

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Tools

Scale

Paintbrush

Six-inch tart tin (with removable base)

Piping bag, nozzle

Ingredients

Raspberry jam

400g of raspberries (give or take)

PÂTE SUCRÉE

70g butter (Doux/not salted – room temperature)

50g powdered sugar

13g ground almond powder

25g egg (basically half, just beat together and reserve the other half)

125g flour

Pinch of salt

CRÈME FRANGIPANE

25g butter

25g sugar

25g ground almond powder

25g egg

5g flour

CRÈME PÂRISSÈRIE

30g milk

8g egg yolk (I had the rest of the egg for breakfast)

8g sugar

4g corn flour (maïzena is recommended)

4g butter

 

Method

Start with the pâte sucrèe

Using a spatula, crème together butter and sugar. Make sure the butter is soft for this. It should have the texture something like a body-butter moisturizer. Add the egg and the salt and mix together. Mix the almond powder and flour together and add, mix together. It will gradually become a ball of dough. It may be a little sticky but don’t stress. Knead a little until the texture is smooth and uniform, then wrap in glad wrap and pop in the fridge for at least an hour. But you can definitely make it the day before and keep it in the fridge. You may just need to let it soften slightly before you can roll it out.

*Tip: when it’s time to use your pastry, roll it out and leave it over a cooling rack for about an hour before you put it in the tin. This will stop it creeping down as it bakes. You want your pastry to be just a few millimeters thick if possible (definitely less than half a centimeter).

Frangipane

As you did for the pastry, start by creaming together butter and sugar with a spatula. Add the almond powder, eggs and flour and mix together by pushing the spatula into the sides of the bowl (trying not to add air into the mix). Keep in the fridge until ready to use.

Crème Pât

(Yes, this is a ridiculously tiny quantity).

Whisk together the egg yolk, sugar and corn flour. In a small saucepan, bring the milk to the boil, and add half to the egg mixture. Whisk this together, lower heat to medium, then return egg/milk mix to the saucepan to thicken. Whisk till thick, taking care not to burn against the bottom of the pan. Once thick, remove from heat and allow to cool. Keep in a Tupperware container in the fridge, with a layer of grad wrap pressed against the face of the custard. Whisk before using.

Assembly

Preheat your oven to 160 degrees Celsius. Grease your tart tin with butter. Wrap your (rolled, rested) pastry over a rolling pin (or wine bottle) to layer over the tin. With your fingertips, push down gently into the groves of the tin, and patch up and holes you might have. Roll the rolling pin over the tart tin to cut away any excess. I usually have a little pastry left over which can be glad wrapped and put in the freezer.

Whisk together the frangipane and crème pât, place in a piping bag with a large nozzle and starting from the outside work around and in to create a spiral. Use any excess to patch for an even surface.

Bake on the middle rack at 160 degrees for 30 minutes, and the pastry is golden. If you have a ridiculously tiny oven like me, my trick is to put the tart in a small baking tin (to protect the bottom) and cover the top with a folded double layer of tin foil for 20 mins, removing the tin foil for the last 10 to get everything golden.

Once baked, remove the tart from the oven and leave to cool on a rack. You may notice the center having domed slightly in the oven, but it should lie flat after it’s cooled a little. After all that, maybe have a cup of tea. Or wine. Because oh my god the faffing.

Once cool, the best de-circling trick I’ve found is something Mary Berry said on Bake Off, place the tart tin on top of a thick set glass, and gentle push away at the casing and it should fall off neatly without making anyone cry. Then with a large knife or something like that, gently af slide between the pastry and the bottom circle of the tart tin and separate.

Now you can make your own jam if you like, however, I just used a raspberry jam from the supermarket.

Decant a tablespoon or so of jam into a small container (I use an espresso cup), and mix thoroughly with a spoon to loosen the mixture. Gently spread the jam over the base of the tart, getting into the nooks and crannies, though taking care not to paint the crust.

Rinse and dry your raspberries, and arrange, working again from the outside in, to form concentric circles to fill the tart. Then mix another tablespoon of jam with a couple of drops of hot water. With a (food-only) paintbrush, brush the jam-glaze over the raspberries filling in any little gaps where the base is visible.

 

Collapse in a pile of jammy, sugar-covered glory, and enjoy.

 

This tart would last a few days in the fridge, as the glaze helps to preserve the berries . I say would, because, well, nom nom nom.

 

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