Thursday, 5 June 2008

Spring Taste and Create - spring fruit pies

This post is about my first entry to Nicole at For the Love of Food's Taste and Create event. Every month she pairs participants up and they select and make something from each other's blog. This month Nicole has been kind enough to create a new seasonal edition of Taste and Create for a few of us who joined in late. I was partnered with Nicole herself, and have been having a difficult time choosing which of her many delicious-looking dishes to recreate. I was finally swayed towards a dessert as today was also my first meeting of a history journal's editorial board I've been asked to join, and I thought that there was no harm in banking some brownie points against any future tardiness in reviewing articles! The journal's editor puts on a nice salady outdoors lunch for the summer meeting, so I went for a fresh fruit tart Nicole said was so good she'd made it three times in one week. It was from an old cookbook of her mother's, and consists of a dough you 'pat in the pan' (ie no rolling), a custard filling, and a layer of fresh fruit. Nicole had made one big tart topped with a mixture of berries, but I went for two smaller ones (largely because the base of my big flan tin has never emerged from our house move!) and stuck with a strictly British spring-time seasonal theme of strawberries for one, and rhubarb for the other.

The pie crust was super-easy to make, though it was different from any pastry I've made before as it used oil rather than butter. The custard was also fine, and I got through the 'stir well to avoid the eggs scrambling in the scalded milk' part ok, which is always a bit alarming to contemplate. I did that part and baked the tarts last night so they could chill in advance. I also prepared the rhubarb, which I just baked in the oven with some sugar for about 45 minutes. I kept back the juices and reduced them down this morning to pour over the fruit (this part was based on Nigella's rhubarb tart in How to be a Domestic Goddess). The other tart was topped with sliced strawberries and brushed with warm apricot jam (I'm afraid I didn't make my own as Nicole did, which I'm sure made it extra nice!).

I was a little nervous bearing my untested tarts off to my meeting - after all, what if my new colleagues didn't like my baking, and gave me all the duff jobs to do? I needn't have worried though: everyone, go and bake this tart - it is delicious! The pastry was crispy but soft in the mouth which is the way I like it; the custard was smooth and eggy; and the fruit gave a final cool and fresh taste. Everyone loved it, especially the rhubarb version, and the editor requested the recipe. I did take a little piece back for The Scientist, and he put it on a par with his mum's lemon meringue pie, which is his top favourite dessert of all time. I've never made a custard tart before, and now I also have brownie points with my new colleagues, AND top dessert kudos from my dearly beloved. Thank you Nicole - count me in again next time!


Johanna said...

this does look good - pat in the pan pastry is my sort of thing but I am a little intimidated by custard! Glad your colleagues and the Scientist loved it

Nicole from: For the Love of Food said...

I'm so glad you made this!! Ha, I'm making it again this weekend for a grill party! The rhubarb sounds like a great topping! Hopefully my second crop will be enough to try it out...I'm finally getting that darn vanilla bean tomorrow to make your yummy looking rhubarb-vanilla jam!!