2019 has been a horribly disappointing year for strawberries, due, no doubt, to the lack of sun. Raspberries, on the other hand, have been loving the damp and relatively cool weather. The quality has been fantastic, and I don’t remember having such a long season. This week’s recipe is a showstopper to celebrate the great crop.

The beauty of this is that you can use any fruit you like – just taste it first. Strawberries would work, and I have addded blueberries as well, to make poncy patterns. I like tartness of rasps, but if using brambles (blackberries for the non-Scots) they might need a little dusting of icing sugar.

A quick word about the creamy filling. There are three terms you need to understand. It would be easier if we used them in English, but as many of the recipes use the French equivalents, here is a quick glossary.

Crème Chantilly – this is simply double cream which has been whipped and sweetened. To 250 ml double cream add 2 tbsp caster sugar and (optionally) 1 tsp vanilla extract (not essence). Beat until stiff, but as always with cream, take care not to overdo it.

Crème pȃtissière – known in English as confectioners’ custard, the pros will refer to it as crème pat. Has a wide range of uses. Interestingly, recipes which I have researched use as few as two and as many as four egg yolks for virtually the same amount of milk. See below for the recipe.

Crème diplomat – this is crème pat mixed with some crème Chantilly. While for something like a mille feuille you might want the eggy custardy loveliness of crème pat on its own, a tart filling is probably best made with this. Your choice.

Raspberry TartGlazed Raspberry Tart (makes a 22cm tart)

Ingredients

For the pastry

170g plain flour; 100g butter, cold, cubed; 1 egg yolk; 50g caster sugar; pinch of salt; very cold water.

For the crème pȃtissière

250 ml full fat milk; 3 egg yolks; 1 tsp vanilla extract (optional); 50g caster sugar; 10g plain flour; 10g cornflour.

For the topping

2 punnets raspberries (700 – 800g) (or other fruit of choice); redcurrant jelly – 3 or 4 tbsp, possibly more.

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If making the pastry in the traditional way, sieve the flour and place in a bowl with the butter, salt and sugar. Rub together until the texture resembles breadcrumbs. Loosen the mixture with the egg yolk and 2 tbsp water and mix to a firm dough. Alternatively, chuck everything in a food processor and blitz. Form a ball, wrap in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for at least an hour.

While the pastry is chilling, make the custard and the Chantilly cream. Bring the milk and vanilla to the boil, then remove from the heat.

In a separate bowl whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and both flours. Pour in a little of the milk and whisk together until thoroughly incorporated. This is the critical phase. If you add too much heat to egg yolks, you will end up with scrambled eggs, and you’ll have to start again. Gradually whisk in the rest of the milk. Return to the milk pan and cook over a medium heat, whisking continuously. You’re looking for your custard to thicken. Alarmingly, it will go lumpy. Panic not and keep beating until it goes smooth (trust me, it will). Cook gently for another couple of minutes. Transfer to a clean bowl and cover, to prevent a skin from forming. When cooled, transfer to the fridge. If you are going to make crème diplomat, prepare your Chantilly cream next and chill. This will mean you have a bit too much crème pat. Have fun later with profiteroles or custard slices – that’s for another day.

Grease a 22cm tart tin, preferably one with a removable base. If you do a lot of baking, hold on to old butter papers which are great for this. (Mind you, if you do a lot of baking, you probably already know this.) Roll out the pastry to the thickness of a £1 coin. (If, like me, you’re not very good at rolling pastry, you might be interested in this You Tube video – https://bit.ly/2lQi6ce.) Arrange the pastry in the tart tin. Don’t trim the edges at this stage – this way you will avoid the problem of the sides shrinking. Preheat the oven to 180°C/Mark 4 and put a baking sheet in to heat up. Prick the bottom of the pastry with a fork. (Don’t go right through.) For this process, known as blind baking, you need to weight the pastry down. Cut a piece of greaseproof paper larger than the tart tin. Place it over the pastry then weigh down with dried peas, beans or other pulses. Alternatively, you can buy ceramic beans. Put the tart tin on top of the preheated baking sheet (to avoid the dreaded soggy bottom) in the centre of the oven. Bake for 15 minutes. Check that the sides are cooked, then remove the paper and the ballast.  Do remember that you won’t be able to use your dried peas, or whatever, again for normal cooking, but keep them in a separate jar for your next great bake off. Return to the oven and bake for a further 10 minutes, or until the base is golden brown and looks cooked. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Trim off the excess pastry.

To assemble the tart, melt the redcurrant jelly in a saucepan. It obviously doesn’t need cooking – it just needs to be liquid enough to form a glaze.

Spoon your crème diplomat or crème pat into the tart base and smooth the surface. Arrange the fruit in circles, or whatever design you fancy (a visit to the window of any Parisian patisserie will give you ideas). The cream should be completely covered by the fruit. With a pastry brush, glaze the entire surface of the fruit. Chill in the fridge, then serve. Voilà!

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