Tuesday, February 07, 2012
I would completely understand if you take one look at this, yawn and proceed to move on elsewhere. Another tart? What's wrong with this woman? No, it's not that last year I'm cake lady then this year I'm tart girl (hmm... that came out a bit weird). Awhile ago, after making these for some friends who demanded them, I was left with yet another small batch of tart shells. Having no more dinner parties or people coming over for the following week, I almost spooned lemon curd into them and called it a day. But I know myself well, I saw another recipe coming, and this one waited long enough.
My trip to Sydney's most talked about bakery left me dreaming about this tart and Vijay the pork and fennel sausage roll. Despite the yearning, I've put off making it for a few reasons - I flopped in making the sourdough from the bakery's cookbook; the pastry for this tart takes quite a bit of work (two full pages of method just for the pâte brisée) and I would be the only one eating them as my other half is really partial to tarts (unless they're filled with cheese and bacon). As I twiddled my thumbs thinking of what easiest possible tart filling I could whip up without going to the store for ingredients while my tart shells were threatening to go stale in that large green Tupperware on the kitchen counter, I remembered this piece of work and almost opened a bottle of wine to congratulate myself.
Good thing I didn't, of course. It was too early to celebrate when I still had to make a custard, albeit just half the quantity. I did almost overcook it (again) but barely saved it by cooling it quickly off the heat, whisking like a mad woman for five minutes. Then I didn't overfill the shells and instead of leveling off the top to a smooth flat surface, I left them with bits of swirls. Having used up all my caster sugar making brownies to address my earlier chocolate-craving-emergency; I brûléed the tops with regular fine sugar. So as you can see, they don't look very much like those from Sydney.
Not that it mattered, for as soon as my sunk my teeth into one - cracking the brûléed top, being hit with a cool, creamy mouthful of teh halia (Malay for ginger chai) and then blending in the buttery crisp pastry, for a moment I was back in sunny Surry Hills, sipping my mocha while Vijay negotiates his cappuccino, myself knee deep into the third tart from the pastry counter, idly watching the bakery's patrons queue for their bread, dogs and bikes in tow. It was worth all the 'make two days ahead' instructions, trust me. It's between this or flying to Sydney and then pay AUD5 per tart (as Shirley mentioned). I see myself making sure I end with some leftover tart shells in my next tart recipe.
I hear some groans. Don't worry, not anytime soon. Though I do have some Australian apricots getting really ripe in the fridge. We shall see.
Bourke Street Bakery's Ginger Brûlée Tart [Printer Friendly Version]
Adapted barely from Bourke Street Bakery's cookbook, pâte sucrée recipe from Australian Gourmet Traveller.
Yields 24 3-inch tartlets
You need to start this recipe 2 days ahead
Notes: I've written the recipe such that most of the work is done on Day 2 and less on the day of. Note that the filled tarts need to be chilled for 4 hours to set on Day 3, so plan ahead on how you approach this depending on when you need to serve it. These are best eaten fresh - if you don't have enough souls to feed 20-ish tarts, I suggest halving the custard recipe and freezing half the pastry for later application.
Filling custard: I'm providing the original custard recipe here although I've halved it (to fill my leftover tart shells) but kept the original amount of spices to suit my taste. If you are like me, a true ginger lover, you may need to double the spices for 720 ml cream. As mentioned in the book, this custard can be easily overcooked or undercooked. The 10-15 minutes time given to cook the custard is really just a guideline - it depends on how efficient is the heat from your bain-marie. Stop cooking as soon as it has thickened and cool it gently (without too much agitation) when whisking quickly every 10 minutes.
Tart shell pastry: For the original sweet shortcrust pastry (pâte brisée) recipe, see Ellie's post here. Bourke Street Bakery's pâte brisée is quite rustic, uneven and not very crumbly. A classic pâte brisée doesn't contain vinegar - this addition is to preserve the dough if you intend to freeze it for up to 2 months. Between this and the pâte sucrée I used, I wouldn't recommend one over the other as they are equally good, though from the recipe method you can see that the pâte sucrée would be easier to make and handle - there is no need to chill the dough after rolling out before lining the shells (3 resting periods compared to 2), and also no requirement to grease the tart shells.
- 720 milliliters/25 fluid ounces pouring/whipping cream (35% fat)
- 5 centimeters/2 inches piece ginger, finely sliced
- 1 cardamom pod, bruised
- 1/2 cinnamon stick
- 10 egg yolks
- 80 grams/2 3/4 ounces/1/3 cup caster sugar, plus extra for burning
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh pistachios, roughly chopped
- 200 grams plain flour
- 60 grams pure icing sugar
- pinch of salt
- 120 grams cold butter, coarsely chopped
- 1 tablespoon iced water
- 1 egg yolk
- egg wash for brushing
On day 1: To prepare the infused cream, place the cream into a saucepan over high heat and add the ginger, cardamom and cinnamon stick. As soon as it boils, remove from the heat, pour into a large container or bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator overnight for the flavors to infuse.
On day 2: To make the pâte sucrée, process flour, icing sugar and a pinch of salt in a food processor to combine, add butter and iced water, process until mixture resembles fine crumbs.
You can also do this very quickly with a pastry cutter. Add yolk, process to combine, turn onto a work surface and bring together with the heel of your hand. Divide the dough into 2 balls and form each dough into a disc. Wrap each disc in plastic and refrigerate, for 2 hours.
Meanwhile, prepare the custard. Reheat the infused cream in a saucepan over medium-high heat, bring to simmering point, and then remove from the heat. Set aside until needed. Place the egg yolks in a large stainless steel bowl and use a whisk to combine. Add the sugar and continue whisking for about 30 seconds or until the sugar has dissolved. Strain the warmed cream through a fine sieve, discarding the spices, and then pour the cream into the egg yolk mixture, whisking well to combine.
Put the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure the base of the bowl does not touch the water, and continue stirring with a whisk for about 10-15 minutes, or until the mixture is smooth and thick, scraping down the sides of the bowl regularly with a rubber spatula. (It is important to keep stirring at all times or the mixture will curdle.) Remove the bowl from the heat and whisk briskly for about 2 minutes to cool it quickly. Over the next 1 hour, whisk the mixture (quick and short) every 10 minutes until cooled. Use a rubber spatula to clean the side of the bowl thoroughly and place plastic wrap directly on top of the mixture refrigerate overnight to set.
While the custard is cooling for 1 hour, proceed to line the tart shells. From here you can either bake them immediately or freeze the lined shells to bake the next day. Baked shells keeps well in an air-tight container, with layers of parchment in between, at room temperature, up to 3 days.
Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4 (if using convection, turn the fan on). Working with one dough disc at a time, divide dough into 8 pieces. Roll out each piece on a lightly floured surface to 2mm thick and line 8 3-inch-diameter, 3/4-inch-deep fluted tart shells. Trim edges and refrigerate to rest, for about 30 minutes. Reroll remaining pastry into a ball and return it to the fridge. Repeat with the second dough disc. Combine the leftover dough and repeat to line remaining tart shells till all the dough is used up. Blind bake tart shells (pierce, line and weight) until light golden, for about 15-20 minutes. Remove paper liners and weights, brush shells with egg wash. Bake again until crisp and golden, about 4-5 minutes (if using convection, turn the fan off). Remove pastry shells from tart tins and cool on a wire rack.
On day 3: To assemble the tarts, bring the chilled custard close to room temperature. Pipe the custard into the tart shells with a piping (icing) bag fitted with a plain nozzle - you should just slightly overfill the filling in each one. (I just used a spoon to do this for half a recipe, the piping method is easier if you make a large batch or mass produce like the bakery.) With a small pallet knife, scrape the custard to be flush with the top of the tart shell. Place in the refrigerator to set for 4 hours. Sprinkle about 1 teaspoon caster sugar evenly over the top of each tart and burn with a blowtorch to caramelize. Sprinkle a few pistachios on top to serve.
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