Recently there has been an influx of beautiful Chilean fruit at my local supermarket, reminding me that despite today’s -30°C temperature, spring and summer are on their way. Inspired by the prospect of Zephyr’s return, I decided to post a recipe for one of my favourite “tarte” (I find that “pie” doesn’t really reflect what I make). I’ve put together this recipe from two excellent books. I got the pâte  
brisée recipe from Guy Disdier’s Les Desserts: Les secrets de leur réussite (Editions S.A.E.P; 1990); and the fruit and creme recipes from Jacqueline Gerard’s La Cuisine (Larousse; 1974). Generally, people use a pâte sable in this recipe, but I find the light pâte brisée in this recipe does a great job.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Fruits
700g mix of fruit that includes strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries
1 tablespoon of Grand Marnier
½ tablespoon of sugar

Pâte Brisée
250g of all purpose flour
5g of salt
20g of sugar
125g of butter (cold and chopped up)
1 egg white
50ml of water

Creme
1/3 litre of milk (warm)
2 eggs
75g of sugar
50g of flour
25g of butter
2 tablespoons of Grand Marnier

FRUIT
First off, clean your fruit, remove the tops of your strawberries and cut the remaining portion in half, and then put all your fruit in a shallow bowl. Pour over the Grand Marnier and sugar, and gently mix so that you cover the mixture, thus allowing the alcohol and sugar marinate into the fruit for 1-2 hours. Afterwards, drain the fruit and allow them to dry well. If you put wet fruit on your pie you’ll get a gooey, watery sauce that looks…well…gooey, and unsightly.

The alcoholic mix that drains off the fruit is delightful and is a great post-baking reward.

CREME
You want to do this early ‘cause it has to cool before you put it in the pie crust. Mix the eggs with the sugar and flour, put it in a casserole and then gradually mix in the warm milk with a whisk. Put your casserole on low heat, thicken the mixture and continue to mix until the creme thickens. It’s ok if it looks a bit dry. Now, remove the creme from the heat and mix in the butter and Grand Marnier. Allow it to cool (mixing it from time to time helps this) to room temperature.

PÂTE BRISÉE
Next, make your pâte brisée. Mix and sift the flour, salt and sugar onto a clean work surface, making a little mound. Make a “crater” into the mound of powder and put in the chopped up butter. With your thumbs, middle and index fingers work the butter into the flour. Don’t squeeze the butter too hard. You are aiming to make a sandy looking mixture.

Once the butter has been incorporated make a mound from your mixture (again) and then hollow it out (again) making a “well”. Take your egg white and water, mix them together in a bowl, and then pour the mixture into the centre of the “well”. Use your well as a bowl, and use a fork to gradually incorporate the outer powdery wall into the liquid. This should be a familiar technique to those who make pasta. When you’re fork is no longer a useful tool to incorporate the ingredients, gently kneed the dough only enough to properly incorporate your dough – the less you kneed, the lighter your crust will be.

By the time you’ve incorporated all the ingredients you’ll be left with a dough that is easy to roll out. If your dough is too powdery add a bit of water, bearing in mind that too much water will (in my experience) shrink the dough more than usual once you cook it.

When you’ve made your dough, let it rest for 10-15 minutes. In the meantime, preheat your over to 240°C/470°F. Prepare a 28cm pie tray with a removable base and break out the rolling pin and flour a work surface. Take out your rested dough and roll it out on the floured surface, turning it once or twice as you do so to make sure it doesn’t stick. Once you have a circle a bit bigger than the pie tray. Put your crust in the pan, prick holes in the bottom of the dough and make sure it’s snug against the edges. Allow the extra crust to overflow from the edges. Your pie will shrink once you cook it. Cut it after you’ve cooked it to ensure you have nice even, tall edges. Put the pan in the over and bake blind for 10-15 minutes (until golden).

PUTTING IT TOGETHER
You’re in the home stretch. Your pan should have finished cooking by now. Remove the cooking blinds (of course) and put in your cooled creme. Then, place your fruit on top, sprinkle with icing sugar, and serve.

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