It was my thirtieth birthday last week.
(If I was in the US I could now legally become a Senator [Hurrah! I'd implement my policy of free cakes for all!])
I was surprised by A with a lovely, lovely week long holiday. I had absolutely no idea where we were going and had spent the last three months trying to wheedle the destination out of an increasingly despairing A. I'm not terribly good at surprises you see.
But A remained resolutely watertight and by the time we got to the airport I still hadn't the foggiest.
And I was very happily surprised when A explained:
'We're off for a couple of days to Madrid then we fly to Sardinia'
I replied exclaiming 'Wow! That'll be brilliant!', followed rather rapidly with 'Erm... Where exactly IS Sardinia?!'
We had a quick geography lesson ('There's a big sea called the Mediterranean, which is bordered by France, you know where they make Croissants? And Italy, where they make those lush cannolis you like? And Spain, where we eat Tapas? And Sardinia is right in the middle')
Look at this Neapolitan ice cream style building in Madrid. And yes, I generally do compare most constructions to sweet treats.
The bounty advert style beach in Sardinia where many a happy hour was spent lazily discussing dilemmas such as 'If you could only have one type of cake for the rest of your life which would you choose?'. It is fair to say I not only started this particular topic of conversation but also had a lot to contribute to it.
Still discussing it now to be honest.
It was a brilliant week followed by a brilliant bank holiday with all family in the Brecon Beacons.
Anyways, to the cake. Or to be exact the raspberry tarts. These were A's request for his birthday way back in March. And here's how I made 'em.
For the pastry:
250g plain flour
1 tbsp icing sugar, sifted
Zest of half a lemon
For the creamy bit:
400ml whole milk
5 egg yolks
75g caster sugar
15g plain flour
Plus a punnet of raspberries and icing sugar to finish
1. To make the pastry: Sift the flour into a large bowl. Coarsely grate the butter into the bowl. Add the zest and icing sugar and using your hands, bring the dough together, adding a few drops of water if necessary to bind. Wrap in clingfilm and place in the fridge for one hour
2. Preheat the oven to 220C/Gas Mark 7. Take the chilled pastry from the fridge and roll out on a lightly floured surface, to roughly 4-5mm thick. Line the base and sides of a 22cm tart tin (or four small tart tins). Line the pastry case(s) with baking parchment and fill with baking beans. Blind bake for 10-15 minutes or until lightly golden. Set aside to cool
3. To make the creamy bit, aka the creme patisserie: In a bowl, whisk the sugar and egg yolks together until the mixture doubles in size and is pale in colour and set aside. Heat the milk over a gentle heat, ensuring it doesn't boil. Pour the warm (not boiling) milk over the sugar and egg mixture, add the flours and gently mix together. Return the mixture to the saucepan and heat once again, whisking continuously until the mixture begins to thicken. Remove from the heat and allow the mixture to cool.
4. Once the creme patisserie is cooled, spoon into the pastry cases and decorate with raspberries, finishing with a dusting of icing sugar
- I choose to make a relatively simple straightforward pastry, although an almond pastry would be a lovely accompaniment
- This is best constructed no more than an hour before serving
- And summer fruit can be used to decorate- strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, redcurrent. Ohh, the possibilities!
- I'm entering this into this month's One Ingredient challenge hosted this month by Laura from How to Cook Good Food. The theme is lemons and I appreciate it is a little cheeky entering these, as they contain just a minute amount of lemon, but Laura has kindly welcomed them!