Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Tarting Yourself Up - Raspberry Chantilly Tart

My dad uses the word "tart" perhaps more than your average person. He's renovating his house at present and talks about "tarting the place up" and says that the place is "tartsville, darling" in this amusingly mincing voice. Even when he buys a new suit or a tie or cufflinks he talks about "looking like a tart." He's quite the character, my dad.
For those who are playing along in America, the word "tart" has several meanings, including one which you may or may not be aware of -
First, there's the word for a sharp taste, e.g. "that apple was a bit tart for my liking,"
Secondly, there's the food - a baked dish with a pastry base and an open top.
And thirdly, there's the British slang for a promiscuous woman or a prostitute.
Obviously my dad's prolific use of the word "tart" pertains to the third definition. Not that he's a promiscuous woman or a prostitute (although I have no idea what he got up to in his younger years, but I really don't want to think about that!!!), but to "tart oneself up" is to put a bit of effort into making yourself... perhaps a step beyond presentable. Showy, even. And to have "a tart on the side" implies that you are engaging in, erm, extracurricular activities that perhaps you ought not be!
And obviously this post is about baked goods, not about women of questionable character or putting on a show. Although I have to admit the tarts did a pretty good job of being showy - they're quite simple, but also effective.

I also need to confess that, in the past, I've used a (baked!) tart as a vehicle for publicly delivering a backhanded comment about someone's moral sensibilities and personal choices. They say that if you can't say anything nice then don't say anything at all... unless you can backstab with sweetened baked goods, in which case you're good to go!
The recipe came from the book 50 Rainbow Tarts. It caught my eye in a book shop the other week while I was looking for a birthday gift for my friend A, and I simply had to have it. Hah, that's usually how it happens. Happy not-birthday to me! Although A was actually with me at the time, so there's really no excuse for losing focus...
It's a great concept, and it really appeals to me in terms of how visually pleasing and structured the recipes are - there are 50 tarts, all colours of the rainbow, and the index is basically a paint colour chart with little sample dots and the name of the tart  and page number listed below it (sorry about the quality of the picture - I snapped it quickly with my iPhone to show a friend who displays slight OCD tendencies when it comes to colour-coding!).
You can tell it was written by a graphic designer with a love of food, and I wish I'd thought of it first! Quick suggestion to the publishers for the second print run, though - run your dots right the way across the page and treat it as a full-page spread rather than two pages, or else do the same but starting in one corner and radiating out through the spectrum of colour and shade as you move across the page.
There are both sweet and savoury tarts, and each one has been made into a small oblong with a with a white strip at the bottom, much like a paint colour chip. I'd probably call it an open tart because everything is kind of piled on top of a flat base with no sides. There are four different pastry base recipes right in the front, several recipes for the white part, and from there the book makes its way through the rainbow by applying different toppings to various combinations of base and cream.

Pastry Base
160g plain flour
25g icing sugar
50g unsalted butter, chopped into small pieces
Pinch salt
1 vanilla bean (I used 1tsp of vanilla bean paste)
1 egg
3tbsp milk

Chantilly Cream
150mL chilled cream
20g icing sugar

The Tart
1 quantity pastry (above)
1 quantity cream (above)
125g raspberries, plus more for decoration (I used frozen raspberries and picked out 24 good ones plus a few spares and let them thaw out on a piece of paper towel, standing on their ends)
3/4tsp gelatine powder

Pastry Base
Line baking tray with baking paper. Combine all ingredients as far as the salt.

Add vanilla, egg and milk and roughly combine with your hands (although I prefer to use a butter knife, because then I don't get sticky hands. They will get sticky later, though, just not quite as sticky as this step!).

Lightly flour your hands, remove rings (I'm telling you to do that because I always forget!) and tip onto a floured bench and knead the dough until smooth and it forms a ball. You don't want it too sticky but also not too dry.

Roll out flat and cut into four 12cm x 15cm rectangles (I would probably make eight that were half the size next time). Note that in the process of squaring them up, I ended up with excess pastry. So I spread the offcuts with apricot jam, rolled them into little pinwheels and baked them with the rest of the pastry. Yum!

Place onto prepared tracy, prick all over with a fork and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 180oC (350oF). Bake for about 20mins, or until lightly golden. Cool.

Chantilly Cream
Beat cream in mixer until firm peaks form (but don't let it turn to butter!). Sift sugar into cream and beat for another few seconds until sugar is well incorporated.

The Tart
Combine the raspberries (except those set aside for decoration) with sugar and gelatine with a tablespoon of water in a saucepan over medium heat. Crush raspberries gently with a wooden spoon and bring to the boil. Remove from heat, strain through fine sieve to remove seeds, then cool completely (I put mine in the fridge to speed things up. Use a container with thin sides rather than a ceramic dish, as it will cool faster).

Once cooled, fold the raspberry liquid into half the cream, then spread on the upper part of the pastry base. Pipe or spread the remaining chantilly cream in whatever pattern your heart desires onto the lower part of the pastry. Decorate with the intact raspberries that you drained earlier.

The base itself wasn't as sweet a shortcrust as I am accustomed to, which kind of bugged me when I tried eating it raw, but obviously once it is loaded up with chantilly cream that is no longer an issue ;) It's also worth mentioning that in my head, a sweet shortcrust pastry is the melts-in-your-mouth one mum used to make from the Alma Lach's The Hows and Whys of French Cooking, which, predictably, is quite a heavenly pastry. I will probably experiment with different shortcut pastry recipes, but if you do the same you should bear in mind that the pastry needs to be robust enough to hold up when it is loaded up with topping and moved around.
I tried several methods of piping the cream (I'm a piping kinda gal!) but I'm sure just smearing it on with a knife or the back of a spoon would do just as well. I think all three look fine, but the third one is probably a bit prettier.

Be warned that the cream becomes a little runny once you fold the raspberry mixture through. I don't know whether I didn't put enough gelatine in, or it didn't cool enough, or it was just always going to happen. I might have to give it another try, just to be sure, and maybe add a bit more gelatine. All in the name of quality control, you see... ;)

Alright then, you lot, off you go. Get yourselves a cup of tea and have a little bit of tart on the side...


  1. Wow! This book looks amazing. I'll have to keep an eye out for it!

    Your Dad sounds hilarious, BTW. : )

    1. Haha yep, he is. He's a very special snowflake with an oddball (and often filthy!) sense of humour. Love him!

  2. Adorable and delicious looking! Dads are great - thanks for letting me in on that piece of slang..I will definitely have to use that!

    1. Just be careful who you say it to - it can be quite a disparaging thing to call someone, although my dad uses it affectionately!


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