Saturday, November 15, 2008

Recipe: Blackberry Pie

I always feel that there's something special about berry pies, it's just such an indulgent sight! I was intrigued by a recipe for pate sucre, which is a rich sweet short pastry, I kept seeing this term "pate sucre" and I never really had the chance to use it or make it. What it was, I understood, was the tart base that you find on most French pastries, including those tarts that you get at Delifrance.

I always tend to make pie crusts out of graham cookies, because I like the taste. To my surprise, I found pate sucre to be a very easy recipe and came together beautifully, although I had my doubts. The pastry cream, which I did have more experience with, was also very easy to make and I didn't even need to break out the eggbeater, so don't be discouraged by the fact that this recipe has parts to it.


Tart Dough

This recipe make two 10-inch tarts. I saved the second one to make a Raspberry Almond Tart.

1 cup plus 1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
9 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg

1. Sift together the confectioners' sugar, flour, and salt into a bowl.
2. Place the butter in a food processor and process until smooth, about 15 seconds. Distribute the flour mixture over the butter, add the egg, and process just until the dough comes together; do not overmix. Turn the dough out onto the counter and divide it in two. Shape each half into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours. (You may freeze the other half for up to one month.)
3. Let the dough stand at room temperature for 30 minutes to soften.
4. Dust a work surface lightly with flour. Dust one of the discs lightly with flour and, using a floured rolling pin, roll it out into about 12-inch circle.

Pastry Cream

2 cups whole milk
1/4 cup cornstarch
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
4 yolks
4 Tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons real vanilla extract or half of a vanilla bean

1. Combine 1 1/2 cups of the milk with the sugar, and the vanilla seed and pod if using, in a medium, heavy saucepan, and whisk to dissolve the sugar.
2. In a medium bowl, dissolve cornstarch in the remaining 1/2 cup milk. Whisk the eggs and yolk into the dissolved cornstarch until completely smooth.
3. Bring the milk and sugar to a gentle boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Stir 1/4 cup of the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture to temper it. Whisk in the remaining milk mixture, 1/4 cup at a time until completely combined.
4. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until the custard thickens and comes to a slow boil. Cook stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter and vanilla until both are completely incorparated.
5. Now you should pour custard through a fine-meshed sieve into a large bowl but I couldn't be bothered to strain it. If you've stirred vigourously and not cooked your egg, you should be alright. Press plastic wrap over the surface of the hot pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming as the cream cools. Poke a few holes in the plastic wrap to allow steam to escape. Refrigerate until completely cold, about 3 hours. Makes 3 cups.


2 cups fresh blackberries or blueberries, cleaned

1. Place the tart shell on a flat platter. Pour and spread, using a spatula or spoon, the pastry cream all the way to the sides of the crust.
2. Place the fruit on the surface of the pastry cream. You can also use straeverries. Use a whole strawberry right in the center and lean half strawberries in a circular fashion from the center outward.
3. If you feel hardworking, you can make a glaze and brush it on the fruit using a pastry brush. This will keep the fruit from browning and it adds shine. Serve within a few hours or the tart will be soggy.


1/3 cup apricot jam
2 teaspoons water

Combine jam and 2 teaspoons water in heavy small saucepan. Simmer over medium-low heat 1 minute, stirring constantly. Strain glaze into small bowl. Push up pan bottom to release tart. Place tart on platter. Brush glaze over tart.(Can be prepared 8 hours ahead; let stand at room temperature.)

Tip: You may brush the bottom of the tart shell with melted white chocolate and let it set before you fill with the cream, this will prevent the tart crust from getting soggy.

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