I originally bought these blueberries for a college photography assignment. It was all about human element, but other than that, we had completely free reign over what we could do. As with many of my assignments, food managed to sneak into it, I can’t seem to help it. When looking through my portfolio, I think the examiners will probably get hungry!
While thinking about what I could do with them, I remembered this recipe that I had bookmarked in one of my old Gourmet Traveller magazines. I totally fell for the photo, it was just wonderful, but when I saw the source of the recipe, I remembered the wonderful Bathers Pavillion frangpiane tart I had enjoyed so much recently at the Food and Wine Fair. Some events just seem serendipitous!
These tiny tartlets would be perfect to serve at a spring picnic or a girly afternoon tea; both are things I am planning at the moment. I loved the nuttiness of the frangpiane, and though it seemed to have a different personality entirely from their berries and cream variation, I loved it all the same.
I will say, though, that this vanilla custard recipe gave me some grief. I have made custard many times and never had a problem, but it took a dozen eggs before I managed to get this one right. I can’t be sure, but maybe it’s because the sugar was mixed with the milk rather than the eggs like other recipes I’ve used?
The egg yolks went stiff when mixed with the flour and cornflour, even when only whisking for a few seconds, and are hard to mix in completely to the milk mixture, leaving lumpy eggy bits floating around. Even when I strained it, it still didn’t seem silky smooth. If you have a favourite custard recipe, I’d say go ahead and use it here. This one is delicious, yes, but it isn’t worth wasting so many ingredients on if things go wrong!
Blueberry and Vanilla Frangipane Tart
Adapted from Bathers’ Pavillion Menus and Recipes by Serge Danserau
Note: You will need to start this recipe the day before you plan to serve it.
• 100g unsalted butter
• 100g caster sugar
• 3 eggs
• 40g plain flour
• 125g ground almonds
• 225g unsalted butter
• 100g caster sugar
• 1 egg, beaten
• 350g plain flour
• 1 litre (4 cups) milk
• 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
• 250g white sugar
• 6 egg yolks
• 40g plain flour
• 40g cornflour
• 3-4 punnets ripe blueberries, rinsed and towel dried
• Icing sugar, to dust
1. To make frangipane filling, beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer for 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating slowly after each addition until well combined. Stop the mixer. Sift the flour and ground almonds and add to the butter mixture. Beat for 1 minute, transfer to a bowl and refrigerate overnight covered with plastic wrap.
2. To make the pastry, cream butter and sugar together until very pale, and then beat in the egg. Gradually add the flour and mix to a smooth paste. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours. Roll out the pastry to 3mm thickness and use to line 8 individual tartlet tins. Chill in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.
3. Preheat the oven to 180ºC and blind bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven, add a tablespoon of frangipane filling to each tart and bake for a further 10 minutes or until golden brown.
4. In the meantime, make the vanilla custard. Bring the milk, vanilla beans and sugar to the boil slowly. Cream egg yolks flour and cornflour together in a separate bowl and then pour the milk into the egg mixture. Mix well. Return mixture to the saucepan.
5. On medium heat, stir until it starts to thicken. Continue to mix on low heat for a further 5 minutes. Pass through a sieve and place into a bowl with some baking paper o top to stop a skin forming. When the mixture has cooled to room temperature, spoon a level amount of custard into each cooked pastry tart.
6. Place blueberries tightly packed on top of the custard, dust with icing sugar and serve.