Sunday, June 15, 2014

They Both Prefer Pie or Tarts

It's Father's Day so my thoughts turn to fatherhood and my Dad as well as Sweetie. According to my Mom, Sweetie is a wonderful father who deserves sushi for Fathers Day, so we had a sushi feast last night at our favorite sushi place. Our daughter was in town for the day so a Saturday celebration was just fine.

When I was growing up we celebrated Fathers Day on the correct Sunday as we did Mothers Day in May. By the time I had been away from home for a few years somehow those days morphed into Parent's Day and it was a movable feast. Perhaps the change happened because with so many grown children it made it more possible to gather a greater number of the family to celebrate and one day was far easier than two. Our Saturday celebration and week before celebration of Mothers Day this year just carried on a grand tradition.

Living so far to the west of my parents, I was usually only present for Parents Day by phone, so the one time we had Parents Day in Berkeley, exactly 30 years ago this month, was memorable. One of my west coast sisters was getting married, so many of the family came to California that June. Three of us were already living in Berkeley and the gathering was our home a few blocks from the downtown. We had a small but sunny backyard and a newly renovated kitchen with lots of counter space, so it made sense. I remember lots of laughter and good conversation and my Dad's hugs.

He gave good hugs. I'm pretty sure that Mom made a pie, probably a cherry pie. My Dad really loved fruit pies, something he and Sweetie share.

For Fathers Day this year I made Sweetie a tart, at his request. It has a lovely light, crisp, buttery crust using a new-to-me recipe by David Lebovitz. Unlike the usual method for making tart crust where you cut very cold butter into flour, then add icy water and, perhaps, egg yolk, this crust is created by putting butter, oil, water and sugar, plus a little salt, into the oven and cooking it until it browns just a bit. Once the mixture is removed from the oven, you stir in some flour and you have tart dough! Super easy and it makes a very delicate and delicious crust.

The crust was filled with my version of Quick Chiboust Pastry Cream (which is used for the decadent Gateau St. Honore), made all the more interesting by the omission of the gelatin. I had it soaked but forgot to add it when the pastry cream came off the stove. By the time I remembered as I was folding in the whipped egg whites, it was too late to add. I refrigerated the cream while we went to dinner and it was still soft but thick enough by the time we were home to put into the tart shell, topped by fresh blueberries and sliced local strawberries, tiny and sweet. I think my Dad would have loved the tart. I know we did. Here are the three parts of the tart:

Saint Honore Cream (Rapid Chiboust or Diplomat Cream)

1 envelope unflavored gelatin (7 gr.) (try to remember to add this instead of leaving it out like I did)
1/4 cup cold water (60 ml)
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar (130 gr.)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour (70 gr.)
1/4 teaspoons salt
5 egg yolks
2 cups whole milk (500 ml)
1 tablespoon rum or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (also forgotten this time)
1/4 cup whipping cream (57 gr.)
3 egg whites
dash salt
1/2 cup sugar (105 gr.) I used about half of that amount

Soak the gelatin in the 1/4 cup cold water

Put the sugar, flour, and salt into a saucepan and stir together with a whisk. Add the yolks and enough milk to make a paste. Whisk in the remainder of the milk.

Place over low heat and, stirring constantly, cook until thick. Remove from heat and pour into a mixing bowl and !! stir in the vanilla and the gelatin mixture. Stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved.

Stir in whipping cream. Set the mixing bowl in cold water and stir until the cream is cool.

Place the egg whites in a clean bowl and, using clean beaters, whip them with the dash salt. As soon as the whites begin to stiffen, gradually add the 1/2 cup of sugar (or less) and beat until they are fairly stiff but still glossy. Fold the egg whites into the cooled cream. Use at once or place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the cream and refrigerate.

David Lebovitz's French Pastry Tart Shell
One 9-inch (23 cm) tart shell

Adapted from a recipe by Paule Caillat of Promenades Gourmandes

American all-purpose flour and butter work well in this recipe. Small crack in the dough are normal so it is not appropriate for a thin, custardy filling but works well filled with fresh berries resting on a base of pastry cream.

Be really careful with the hot bowl of butter. The butter spatters when you add the flour but the hot bowl can burn your hands if you grab it, so wear mitts and use a trivet or towel between the bowl and your counter if necessary to protect the counter.

3 ounces (90 g) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 tablespoon flavorless vegetable oil
3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 slightly rounded cup all-purpose flour (5 ounces or 150 g)

Preheat the oven to 410 degrees F or 210 degrees C.

In a medium-sized ovenproof bowl, such as a Pyrex bowl, combine the butter, oil, water, sugar and salt.

Place the bowl in the oven for 15 minutes, until the butter is bubbling and starts to brown just around the edges.

When done, remove the bowl from the oven (and be careful, since the bowl will be hot and the mixture might sputter a bit), dump in the flour and stir it quickly, until it comes together and forms a ball which pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

Transfer the dough to a 9-inch (23 cm) tart mold with a removable bottom and spread it a bit with a spatula.

Once the dough is cool enough to handle, pat it into the shell with the heel of your hand, and use your fingers to press it up the sides of the tart mold, reserving a small piece of dough, about the size of a raspberry, for patching any cracks.

Prick the dough all over with the tines of a fork about ten times, then bake the tart shell in the oven for 15 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown.

Remove from the oven and if there are any sizable cracks, use the bits of reserved dough to fill in and patch them.

I put the shell back into the oven for 2 minutes, with the oven off, after the patching, to cook the patches just a bit.

Let the shell cool completely before filling.

Fruit Tart

Take cooled tart shell and mound in pastry cream. There will likely be far more cream than you need. Use in another tart or go wild and eat it out of the bowl with a spoon, because it is too good to waste.

Use the back of a spoon or an offset spatula to spread the cream evenly in the shell.

Top with fresh fruit arranged in a nice pattern.

If desired, glaze with melted apricot preserved or current jelly, then cool in the fridge for a short time to firm up the tart and set the glaze.


  1. Marian7:17 PM

    I think Parent's Day evolved because within one month we had Mother's Day, Virginia's birthday, Mom's birthday, their wedding anniversary and Father's Day. So we combined two of them to celebrate two wonderful parents jointly. Thanks for the wonderful memories of Dad. And Happy Father's Day to Charlie!

  2. Sounds like a most unusual crust, I'd love to try!
    Love your Parents Day idea.
    Tart or Pie but Gorn would always want cherry.