Tarte aux Fruits Rouges タルト フリュイ ルージュ
The weather has been excruciatingly warm all week and is becoming almost unbearable! Climatic patterns have changed and gone gaga around the world. Tornado and hurricane season coming too early whilst the rains refuse to come. How long more have we got to endure this…
On a more positive note, summer fruits from the northern hemisphere comes early this season. Just after we saw a massive shipment of Korean strawberries a month back, now comes the Californian ones, with our local supermarkets selling them very cheaply for punnets twice the size of those korean ones. This is too tempting an offer to resist. Raspberries, blackberries and blueberries are also available in abundance now. Californian blueberries are in season now when we saw their Argentinian or Chilean cousins just a month back. When else than now could be a better time for one to experience the summer berries galore!
I remember reading Adam’s review on Sadaharu Aoki’s Tarte aux Fruits Rouges on his website, Paris Patisseries about 2 months back and I must say, its really a very beautiful piece of work. I love tarty fruits which help to cut through all that sugary sensation of a dessert piece and thus long to be able to replicate it for myself. With summer berries available everywhere now, there seems to be no excuse for delaying this any longer. So here I go!
Recreating Sadaharu Aoki’s works is something a lot of folks in the baking community are aspired to do for the longest time. Unlike many of his colleagues who had published quite a bit, Aoki’s works remain somewhat elusive and myserious to many. I attempted to make one of his creations, Valencia a month back and that motivated me further to look closer into this works and also to polish my skills. To me, Aoki’s masterpieces are very creative but remains very grounded and fundamental in technique and craft requirements. Its all about getting one’s skills in order and putting all you’d learnt together to create that one single piece. Hard work yes, but immensely gratifying.
Finding a working recipe is another challenge. Aoki’s recipes, until very recently, were never in print. So one bears little hope in finding the recipe for his Tarte aux Fruits Rouges over available resources. For that, I turned to his esteeemed colleague, Hidemi Sugino‘s works for help. Sugino is quite a phenomenal figure himself, having won the la Coupe du Monde de la Pâtisserie (Pastry World Cup) exactly 2 decades ago in Lyon, France, and the very first Japanese to have done so. The recipe for my Tarte aux Fruits Rouges is based on Sugino “basic recipes” in his book “Le Goût Authentique Retrouvé”
Crème Frangipane à la Pistache
Fruits d’été (Fruits rouges)
Macaron Fraise (strawberry macaron)
No long recipes this time but here’s my workflow with some personal thoughts and reflections, as well as modifications from Sugino’s recipes.
(1)First bake the macaron shells. I baked them on the same day but it can be done a day before. The macaron shells are made with a recipe I’d been using over the last few months in place of Sugino’s recipe. But the proportions are similar and both methods use the the French Meringue aka macarons au blanc monté method.
(2) Next, prepare the Pâte Sablée aka tart base. Make sure that all the ingredients are at room temperature before incorporating them. Sugino uses a spatula to cream the butter but I don’t have his stamina and used a handwhisk instead. In short, do not use any machinery for this purpose. It simply doesn’t warrant the cleaning up one has to do after that. Also one has to take caution not to overmix when incorporating the dry ingredients into the wet butter-egg mixture as it would result in a very very hard base after baking. A good tart base should be firm yet crumbly, yielding slightly to the gentle pressure from the side a a dessert fork. It should not require a guillotine to work its way through. Owing to the high butter content, the dough softens very quickly at room temperature and thus requires deft work. It helps to just firm it up by cooling it in the refrigerator but do not place it in the freezer. Roll the dough over cling film and place the entire rolled out piece into the fridge on a baking tray. This allows one to quickly and conveniently cut the dough to the required dimensions while it is still firm. Remember to dock the base before baking.
Left to right, mini springform pans with pâte sablée dough laid within docked and ready for the oven. Baking tart crust it formally done using shallow mousse rings but I don’t have those. Made a mistake by trying to bake the tart shells blind. The mistake was quite quickly rectified thankfully. Crème Frangipane à la Pistache just after concoction was formed, through a mélange of Crème d’ Pistache and Crème patisserie.
(3) Then the Crème Frangipane à la Pistache which contains 2 components – Crème d’ Amande and Crème patisserie. Prepare the latter first as it requires time to cool down to room temperature before mixing with the almond cream. Crème Frangipane traditionally uses ground almond, but I’d replaced it with ground pistachio in the ratio of 3 :1 leaving one part of ground almond behind. Mix the two components gently and avoid whipping too much air into the batter. The final concoction should be somewhat runny.
(4) Dock the tart base with a knife and pipe Crème Frangipane à la Pistache into it. Knock the mould gently on a hard surface to expel any trapped air within the batter. I misread the instructions and wanted to bake the crust blind first, by using green beans. Thankfully I realised this mistake early and promptly removed the beans and piped in the cream batter. The tart is baked at 170C for 15-20 min under tanned brown hue. It is normal for the filling to rise during the baking process, so do not be alarm if it domes above the level of the tart crust. Leave the tart in the oven to cool down gradually to room temperature. This helps to prevent the surface of the tart from cracking. Sugino recommends brushing the surface of the tart with a “Sirop d’ imbibage” which is concoction of syrup with kirsch but i omitted this.
Left to right, Crème Frangipane piped into the tart crust with the “before and after” look. Remaining Crème patisserie to be piped on to the surface during assemblage.
(5) Wash all the fruits to be used on the tart and dry them thoroughly through a sieve/colander and then on kitchen towels. I used the same fruit combination as those on Aoki’s Tarte aux Fruits Rouges which is basically strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and redcurrants. All are fresh except for the redcurrants which I’d bought about a month back and had been sitting in my freezer. Fresh ones are so rare in Singapore so I grabbed a small punnet when i first saw them in our local supermarkets despite the price tag. They don’t keep well in our weather and needs to be frozen. The frozen ones have already passed their prime. 😦 Alas I should have made this tart when I first got the redcurrants!
(6) Next is to fill the macaron shells. I didn’t specially make a strawberry buttercream filling for the macarons (too lazy!) since I baked only sufficient shells to make 8 macarons just for this tart. Instead, I macerated some strawberries in caster sugar and then heated generally over a low flame to obtain a coulis-like consistency, added 1/4 tsp of pectin to thicken before incorporating into some crème patisserie leftovers. The texture is quite satisfactory but largely trial and error. I was lucky this time!
Collage et Fruits aux Rouge
Montage et finition
When all the mise en place baking and washing is done, the tarts are ready to be assembled! Ssprinkle some snow powder over the surface of the baked tart. Icing sugar would work as well but if the tart is to be chilled before eating then snow powder works better as it is hydrophobic. Icing sugar would just melt or absorb too much moisture from condensation and dissolve.
Pipe Crème patisserie over the top. Aoki’s original tart had the pastry cream piped as a dollop in the middle a la macaron style but I used mine as a guinea pig to try piping in spirals which I’d failed in my attempt with french meringue for the Yuzu curd and mascarpone ice-cream plated dessert 3 weeks back. Results are more encouraging this time round as I used the “drop and pull” method but alas, cream and meringue textures are quite different!
After that is just a simple arrangement of the fruits and macarons over the surface and its done! Since its a Sadaharu Aoki-inspired creation, I’d followed the arrangement on the photo Adam posted on his website as closely as possible. One can and should exercise his own creativity in chereographing the positions of the various fruits but the blueprint on Aoki san’s tart looked perfect and I simply couldn’t find a better way to have done it otherwise! Perhaps when I try Sugino san’s Tart aux Fruits Frais, will I try to crack my brains a little more!
Snaily spirals of Crème patisserie
Unfilled macaron shells with a rather messy entourage of summer fruits. Berries and macarons are like best friends and I couldn’t resist taking more shots!
Closeup on a filled macaron with my Crème patisserie and strawberry coulis concoction. If the tart is not consumed immediately and made a few hours beforehand, place the macaron on the tart just before serving. Macaron shells are like sponges and ready absorb moisture around them and in this case, from the underlying layer of pastry cream. This would cause the shells to turn soggy rapidly.
Slicing it up for the innards. The Crème Frangipane à la Pistache remained somewhat moist. Could do with a longer time in the oven. But it was delightfully perfumed from the vanilla in Crème patisserie and nutty aroma of pistachios from Crème d’ Pistache.
It looks difficult but its not. So give it a try! Bon appetit!