I love reminiscing over childhood television shows. Magic Mountain, Johnson and Friends, William's Wish Wellingtons are some of my favourites- anyone know any of these? I love the cartoons and children's shows of the late 90's, back when they were simple and there was none of this digital animation stuff which dominates children's TV nowadays- has anyone seen the new Thomas the Tank Engine?!?!
I spent a considerable amount of time in front of the television screen as a child and loved watching the various cartoons they played in the morning and afternoons. I would drag out my bright, plastic yellow chair to watch Playschool and when it came to story time, I would grab any book off my bookshelf and pretend to read along with them, pretending that I could speak English fluently, and knew perfectly well what was going on.
In my later (early primary school) years, most of my television watching time was during the afternoons after school, as my parents did not let us watch TV in the morning (not that we would have woken up early enough to get ready for school and have time to watch tv!). Of the many shows I watched in that time period, one which I personally find quite memorable is Soupe Opera (though I don't think it's very popular!) because of its interesting theme of fruit arrangement and its strange opera music! If you're curious, have a look at the video below- I still find it very creative and entertaining!
I've always thought it'd be fun to cut up pieces of fruit and arrange them into cute animals like they do this on show. Not that I've actually ever done it- their designs are very intricate and require a considerable amount of effort! But if my fruit arrangement 'skills' were as creative as this, it would be pretty awesome, because then I could make really pretty cakes and pastries!!
I guess I'll just have to stick with copying other people's designs or making simple patterns like I did with these fruit tarts ;)
I had intended on making a more complex fruit tart, like my favourite ones, or pretty much the only ones I've had, at Maxim's Bakery (in Hong Kong) which, from memory, consists of a delicious chocolate coated tart shell, filled with a layer of light pastry cream (almost like whipped cream!), a thin layer of sponge cake (if my memory serves me right) and topped with a beautiful arrangement of fruits, brushed with a thin jelly glaze.
That didn't end up happening.
This version is a lot simpler, with a simple shortcrust pastry tart shell and a rich pastry cream, topped with the fruits I had in my fridge and a quick glaze. And it tasted pretty amazing!!
I think fruit tarts fall into the category of tasting great no matter how bad you stuff it up- just like chocolate cakes! The combination of fresh fruits, sweet pastry cream and crispy pastry can't go wrong, even if your pastry or pastry cream isn't that great. This is actually my second time making fruit tart- the first being a couple years ago, when I first got into baking but was too scared of making my own pastry. I resorted to store bought shortcrust pastry, which I only found out after making them, was actually salty and not sweet at all! Nevertheless, the were all eaten up (with the help of some friends!).
This batch of fruit tarts are a lot more successful, and I'll definitely be making these more often in the future! (hopefully, I'll get time to make them as intended next time!)
This one design was my sister's creation ;) (She wanted me to share it with you...)
Sweet shortcrust Pastry (Pate Brisee)
Recipe from Bourke Street Bakery (I summarised it because the recipe was way too long to type out!!)
Makes 20 (8cm) tart shells
400 g (14 oz) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1.5 cm (5/8 inch) cubes
20 ml (1/2 fl oz / 1 tbsp) vinegar, chilled
100 g (3 1/2 oz) caster (superfine) sugar, chilled
170 ml (5 1/2 fl oz / 2/3 cup) water, chilled
665 g (1 lb 7 1/2 oz) plain (all-purpose) flour, chilled
5 g (1/8 oz / 1 tsp) salt
1.Remove the butter from the refrigerator 20 minutes before you start mixing
2.Put the vinegar and sugar in a bowl and add the water, stirring well. Set aside for 10 minutes, then stir again to completely dissolve the sugar
3.Mixing the dough by hand: mix together the flour and salt in a large bowl and toss through the butter. Using your fingertips to rub the butter into the flour to partly combine.
Using a food processor: put the flour and salt in the bowl of the food processor and add the butter, pulsing in 1-second bursts about three or four times to partly combine.
4.You should now have a floury mix through which you can see squashed pieces of butter. Turn out onto a clean work surface and gather together. Sprinkle over the sugar mixture and use the palm of your hand to smear the mixture away from you across the work surface (a pastry scraper is a useful tool to use for this step). Gather together again and repeat this smearing process twice more before gathering the dough again. You may need to smear once or twice more to bring it together - you should still be able to see streaks of butter marbled through the pastry; this gives it a slightly flaky texture to the final product. Divide the dough into two even-sized portions and shape into two round, flat discs about 2 cm (3/4 inch) thick. Wrap each disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
5.Remove the pastry dough from the refrigerator 20 minutes before you wish to roll it. Sprinkle a little flour on the bench and rub a little flour over a rolling pin. Working form the centre of the pastry, gently roll the dough away from you, then turn the dough about 30 degrees and roll out again. Repeat this process until you have a flat round disc, about 3 mm (1/8 inch) thick. Sprinkle extra flour over the bench and rolling pin as needed, but try to use it as sparingly as possible - if too much is absorbed into the pastry it will result in a dough with poor flavour and texture. Bear in mind that you are trying to flatten the pastry into a disc, not ferociously stretch it out in all directions. Stretching will only cause the pastry to shrink excessively when baking. transfer the pastry to a tray and place in the refrigerator, covered in plastic wrap, for at least 2 hours to allow the gluten to relax.
6.Brush twenty 8cm (3 1/4 inch) individual tart tins with a little butter. Cut the pastry using a round pastry cutter with an 11 cm (4 1/4 inch) diameter. Place the pastry on top of the mould ensuring it is in the centre and use use your fingers to gently push the pastry into the mould, moving around the rim until all of the pastry has been inserted - you should now have about 1 cm (1/2 inch) of dough hanging over the sides. Use your index finger and thumb to work your way around the edge, forcing the pastry into the mould so that little or no pastry is left protruding. Where the upright edge of the pastry meets the base there should be a sharp angle where is has been firmly forced into the corner - this method of lining the tin is to counteract the pastry shrinking once baked.
7. Set the pastry cases aside to rest for at least 2o minutes in the freezer so that the gluten relaxes and holds its shape when you line it with foil.
8.Preheat the oven to 200C (400F). Line the pastry with a double layer of aluminium foil, making sure the foil is pushed well into the corners. Pour in some baking beads or uncooked rice to fill the case and bake for 20-25 minutes - the baking time will vary considerably from oven to oven. When cooked properly, the pastry should have a golden colour all over, particularly in the centre, which tends to be the last part to colour and become crisp.The tart shells are now ready to be filled.
Recipe from Five Star Pastry, by Tony Wong
It didn't make enough for me to fill all the tart shells (I doubled the recipe but that was too much custard) but that may have something to do with the fact that I made shells of many different shapes and sizes!
1/2 vanilla pod
125g sugar (I used white)
120g egg yolk
50g corn starch
25g unsalted butter
1. Split the vanilla pod. Scrape the seeds with the back of a knife
2. Bring vanilla pod (and seeds) and milk to boil. Turn off heat. Cover and infuse for 1 hour
3. Mix corn starch with half the portion of sugar. Pour in 1/5 of the milk and stir until smooth. There is no need to sift the corn starch in advance as the sugar will break up the corn starch upon stirring.
4. Add egg yolk and stir well
5. Bring the remaining milk and half portion of sugar to boil
6. Pour the boiling milk mixture into the egg yolk mixture. Stir well and pour mixture back into the saucepan. Bring to boil. Stir well and cook for 2 minutes, whisking continually.
7. Keep stirring until a light, yellow, thick paste forms.
8. Strain the mixture and discard the vanilla pod (I found it quite difficult to strain, so I'd probably discard the vanilla pod before after infusing it in the milk and skip this step instead). Stir over ice water and let it cool to 60degreesC.
9. Add the unsalted butter. Sir until butter fully combines with pastry cream. Refrigerate for 3 hours.
10g gelatine powder
8g caster sugar
Combine all the above ingredients and heat in a saucepan until the gelatine and sugar has melted. Let it cool until it reaches 70degreesC (I just let it cool until it is a slightly thick liquid) before using it to brush onto fruits.
1. Fill each tart shell with pastry cream and spread it to create a smooth surface
2. Arrange your fruits on top of the custard in a pretty pattern :)
3. Brush a thin layer of glaze over the fruits and refrigerate the tarts until chilled and glaze is set.