August 8th 2011
I couldn’t help noticing ripe blackberries in the back yard and thought I should make an effort to cook with them, especially since they are one of my favourite fruits and very seasonal.
Once you’ve made the pastry, chill it for at least an hour (this gave me an opportunity to go out and pick blackberries). Next, flour a board, or better still, a slab of marble and roll out a round sheet of pastry, slightly larger than your tart dish (my dish is about 9 1/2 inches across, so this entire recipe will work for sizes of an inch larger or smaller). If you make a round shape of the pastry lump to start with and keep turning it by a few degrees as you roll, it should stay circular. Take care not to tear the pastry as you fit it into your dish (which you should butter and dust with flour to prevent sticking).
It’s normal to bake the pastry of a tart “blind“, so that it’s cooked before you add any liquid. First prick the pastry base with a fork (I did it about 20 times) to let air escape while baking. Then, lay a sheet of baking paper on top of the pastry before pouring in some baking beans to cover the surface and hold it in place. I use ceramic beans, but some people use dried pulses, hence the name bean. Cook the pastry in a preheated oven at 20ºC for about 20 minutes, or until the pastry goes a nice biscuit colour, as above. After the beans had cooled and I was able to remove them and the paper, I gave the pie an extra 5 minutes in the oven to ensure the pastry base was fully cooked (this isn’t necessary when cooking a tart or pie with a filling for a further period of time). Once cooked, allow the pastry to cool and trim off any excess round the edge.
Crème Anglaise (custard) recipe:
1 egg yolk
1/2 oz plain flour
1/2 oz cornflour
2 oz castor sugar (sieved)
1/2 pint of milk
1 vanilla pod
Beat the egg and yolk with the sugar before slowly adding the flour. In the meantime, heat up the milk in a saucepan, slowly, with the vanilla pod (split down the middle) – the best vanilla comes from Mexico, where it originated.
When the milk reaches boiling, remove from the heat for 30 seconds, dispose of the vanilla and scald the sugar egg mixture (with the milk) while beating with a whisk. Transfer the liquid back to the saucepan and return to the heat, whisking all the time, or it will go lumpy!
As long as you keep beating, the liquid will thicken and become custard quite quickly. Mine went a bit quicker than I expected, so I added a little extra cold milk and achieved a thick but pourable mixture. It’s also possible to make egg custard with 4 to 6 yolks and no flour – some recipes for firm, set custard include gelatine.
Pour the custard into the cold, cooked pastry case.
Press the washed and dried blackberries into the custard, cover the tart and refrigerate for an hour or two before serving. For the very sweet toothed, dust with a little castor sugar. I prefer a tart tart, so the less sugar the better!