Published on July 15th, 2012 | by Gareth10
Apologies for the late post today, a legacy of over indulgence from last night. Which brings me to the explanation of why the 14th of July is a special date and why today, I have a hangover? For most it is just another day but for the French, it is the date that they celebrate French National Day or Le Fete National. You may know it as Bastille Day.
Bastille Day celebrates the storming of Bastille prison and fortress in 1789. This event was the beginning of the French revolution, a period which changed France forever.
Although I am about as French as Yorkshire pudding and the French and English have shared a ‘healthy’ rivalry for centuries; there is no denying that French food is tremendous. In fact it’s more than just good tasty grub. It is part of the national identity and a huge contributor to family culture. When the French are not eating they seem to be talking passionately about food.
So with a dinner for family and friends planned for the 14th a French themed meal was inevitable. As anyone who has read my Quest for Posh Cake will know, I am a big fan of the wonders of French patisseries. I was in need of a dessert to follow the beef bourguignon, so feeling adventurous I decided to get my sausage fingers stuck in the pastry and create my own seasonal fruit tart using the plumpest sweetest Australian mandarins. Here’s how it went:
The recipe requires further tweaking on my part before reaching perfection however it was so enjoyable I wanted to share it now. I used a Nick Nairn recipe for the short crust pastry case and used a recipe from Larousse for the crème patisserie (confectioners custard) but with one minor change, I infused with orange zest instead of the traditional vanilla. The instructions may look long but its relatively straight forward and the custard and flan case can be made 24 hours in advance.
Prep time: 1 hour (because I made everything myself)
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Sweet short crust pastry – Nick Nairn
- 125g unsalted butter
- 50g icing sugar
- 250g plain flour
- 1 egg
- Pinch of salt
- 100ml iced water
Confectioners custard filling – Larousse
- 500ml (2 cups) full fat milk
- 50g plain flour
- ¾ cup caster sugar
- 15g unsalted butter
- 4 whole eggs
- Zest of half an orange
- Pinch of salt
- Peeled and de pithed mandarin segments.
- 2-3 tblsps apricot jam and 1 tblsp Cointreau to glaze the mandarin segments.
- Beat the butter, salt and sugar together until creamy (short cut with a food processor).
- When fluffy add 50g of the flour and mix in thoroughly.
- Add the egg, then the rest of the flour one spoonful at a time. The mix will resemble an almost bread crumb appearance.
- Add 1-3 tspns of chilled cold water (this part is important and where I went wrong the first time). Mix the water in one teaspoon at a time. I prefer to do this with my fingers rather then a mixer. You should be able to bring the mix together in ball with minimal contact.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and kneed 2-3 times.
- Wrap in plastic wrap and put in the fridge for 20 minutes to rest.
- Remove from fridge and roll out the pastry. If you’re pushed for time, use the sweet shortcrust pastry ingredients and follow my “how to make pastry” video.
- Gently pick up the pastry (use the rolling pin) and lay into a flan tin.
- Push the pastry to the edge and prick the base with a fork a few times. Allow to rest in the fridge for another 20 minutes.
- Lay baking parchment over the top and fill with ceramic baking bean or pulses to weigh it down.
- Don’t bother trimming the excess from the edges yet.
- Bake at 180 degrees C for 10 minutes, remove from the oven, take out the baking beans and bake for a further five minutes until golden. Set aside to cool.
- Trim the edges of the pastry case to remove excess.
- Put the milk and the orange zest into a pan and heat until boiling. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Using a heavy based saucepan combine the flour, butter, sugar and eggs.
- Strain the zest from the milk and add the hot milk to the butter/egg mix.
- Place over a medium heat and stir constantly. Boil for a few minutes.
- Pour into a separate dish and cover the surface of the custard with plastic wrap (this will prevent a skin from forming).
- Allow the custard to cool and store in the fridge.
- Before putting the custard in the pastry flan case brush with a little thinned jam (heat the jam, strain and brush). This will seal the pastry and prevent sogginess.
- Fill with custard to about 1/2 to one inch deep.
- Arrange the mandarin segments and glaze with remaining thinned jam. Chill and scoff.