Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Fruit tarts

I made three of these tarts, in 10cm tins. Obviously, the ingredients may be expanded proportionately to make any number of individual tarts, or a larger one. However, this is what I did, with the quantities I had.

100g flour
50g butter
1dstsp caster sugar
Cold water
1 medium apple
2 Victoria plums
Caster sugar
1 egg, beaten
75ml creme fraiche
75ml milk
1tsp vanilla essence

Grate the butter into the flour, as rapidly as possible, so that it does not go squidgy in your hand. You should now be able to rub it in - or blend it in a food processor - in no time at all. Stir in the sugar. Add a little water, and bring the mixture together; keep adding water sparingly until you are able to form a dough. (I added too much to mine, with the result that the pastry was slightly stodgier - more glutenous - than it should have been.)

If you gently bring the dough together, it may fall apart when you try to roll it. If you knead it for a minute or two, it will be more coherent, but may be tougher as a result of the gluten that has developed. I didn't roll my pastry, because I tend to make a mess of the procedure, but got out the grater again and grated the dough into the tins. Then I spread it over the bases and up the sides with my fingers. (Experts recommend that before rolling you chill the dough, wrapped in cling film, for 30 minutes or longer.)

Put the pastry-lined tins on a baking sheet (which helps the bases to firm up) and bake for about 20 minutes, or until dry and golden. You might cover the dough with foil, weighed down with an ingredient such as rice or dried beans, for 15 of the 20 minutes, to stop it from buckling as the water content evaporates.

Peel the apple, quarter and core it, and slice it thinly. Quickly, before it discolours, transfer it to a heavy pan in which a small knob of butter is starting to sizzle over a gentle heat. Turn the slices to coat them in butter, and cook them gently until tender. Place the slices in one of the pastry-lined tins.

Halve the plums, stone them, and slice them. Put them into the two other pastry cases. Scatter a little sugar over the fruit.

Mix together the egg, creme fraiche, milk, and vanilla essence until smooth. (Use double cream if you can find only factory-made creme fraiche, which always splits, in my experience.) Spoon the custard mixture over the fruit in the tins. I didn't need all of it.

Bake the tarts, again on the baking sheet, at gas mark 3/160C for 20-30 minutes, or until the custard is set.

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