A few weeks ago I went to visit my parents to check out their newly renovated backyard. The weather was wonderful, and I wanted to bake a nice desert with seasonal fruits to enjoy in the comfort of their new digs. At the time, cherries were the order of the day, and so I bought a few boxes and found this recipe for a cherry tart from The Silver Spoon.

The more I use the Silver Spoon, the more I realize that the recipes are sometimes difficult to work with. Most of them are articulated in one long, dense paragraph, leaving it up to the reader to parse out each step. Consequently, I’ve decided to break down the steps in to more user-friendly steps. But first, here’s what you’ll need for this pie:

Ingredients – Crust
1 fresh egg
2 fresh egg yolks (one for the crust, the other to glaze the crust)
1/4 cup of sugar (superfine, if you can get your hands on it)
Rind of 1/2 a lemon (if you don’t have a lemon, buy one! It is well worth having the rind)
2/3 cup of butter (diced and soften – leaving it at room temperature for 20 minutes should do it)
1 ¾ cups of all-purpose flour (sifted)

Ingredients – Filling
1 cup of milk
½ teaspoon of high quality vanilla extract
2 egg yolks
½ cup sugar
¼ cup all purpose flour (sifted)
1 ½ cups of butter
1 ½ cups of black cherries, pits out
3 tablespoons of brandy (2 for the pie and the other for you!)

Step 1: Making the Crust
Begin by making the crust. In a large bowl, beat the salt, egg, one of the egg yolks, sugar, and lemon rind with an electric mixer. Once the ingredients are well incorporated, gradually beat in the butter. Once the butter is properly mixed in, stir in the sifted flour and mix. You now have the base for your dough. It should be supple but not sticky.  If you find it is too sticky, add a bit more flour.

Next, take your lovely lemon-scented dough and kneed it lovingly for a few minutes. Then, shape it into a ball and put it in the fridge for half an hour.

Step 2: Making the Filling
While your dough is in the fridge, take your milk and mix in the vanilla extract. As vanilla extracts can vary in quality and intensity, give the milk-extract mix a taste to see if you want to add any more vanilla. The purpose of the vanilla is not to be overpowering, but only to add a nice background flavour and highlight the cherries. Heat up the mixture, but don’t let it boil. Set it aside for now.

With your electric mixer, beat together the 2 egg yolks, sugar, and flour.

Slowly add the warm milk to the egg-sugar-flour mixture, and mix constantly as you do so. Now, take this mixture and put it into a pan. Bring it to a boil over low heat and continuously stir until the mixture thickens up. You’ll know when it’s thick enough when you get a custard-like texture. Be careful not to dry out the custard, but if you do the liquid from the cherries (which you will eventually add) should rehydrate an otherwise dry custard. Once you’ve got your custard texture, add the butter. This will give your custard a nice sheen. Remove the custard from the pan, put it in a bowl, and let it cool.

Step 3: Preparing the Cherries
Add your cherries, sugar, and 2 tablespoons of brandy to a pan and bring to a boil over low heat. Let it simmer for approximately 8-10 minutes. Stir your cherry mixture from time to time, to make sure every inch gets a chance to absorb the brandy and sugar.

While you’re mixing your cherries, pre-heat your oven to 200°C (400°F).

Step 4: Preparing the Crust & Loading Up the Tart
Butter a tart pan and set it aside for now. Then, remove your dough from the refrigerator, and roll out 2/3 of it. The crust should be large enough to fit comfortably into your tart pan. I found this dough to be unruly and difficult to work with (it crumbled quite easily), but be patient because I can assure you its well worth the trouble.

Take your rolled dough and place it in the tart pan. Next, pour your custard into the dough-lined tart pan, and spread it out evenly. Now, put in your cherries and spread them along the top of the custard.

Take the rest of your unused dough, and roll it out to be large enough to comfortably cover your tart. Place the dough over the tart, seal the tart along the edges, and cut a hole in the centre of the dough. Finally, brush the remaining egg yolk over your tart and put it in the oven for 45 minutes.

If all goes well, you will be left with a beautiful, golden crust, and a juicy cherry centre. This is a fabulous desert and quite straight forward. It goes very well with vanilla ice cream. Bonne appétit!

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