When you have an American staying with you and is also soon to marry into your family it would almost seem insult not to somehow celebrate this holiday. I suppose it’s just more of an excuse for me to bake something and label it under.
In my email box a few weeks ago I received one of my monthly emails from a food magazine I follow. In it were some suggestions how to celebrate the 4th of July by perhaps having a BBQ or making a red white and blue trifle. On this side of the Atlantic this holiday certainly isn’t celebrated anywhere close to the scale the Americans would, and for this reason there is a lack of exciting or eye-catching bakes traditionally made here.
To solve this the thinking hat was on and I have to say I’m certainly pleased with the results. Here we have a sweet shortcrust tart filled with crème patisserie, fruits and topped with Italian meringue. You can substitute a lot of elements in this recipe to suit your needs. If you don’t have the time to make a shortcrust pastry substitute it for a store bought one or make a quick biscuit based one (see https://bakersdiet.wordpress.com/2013/06/13/smores-pie/), swap the fruits in the center for whatever you like, fill and decorate with cream if you prefer-the possibilities are endless! The main thing to remember here is the tart is being made in celebration of the 4th July so the American flag decoration is rather essential!
You will need:
300g plain flour
4 tbsp caster sugar
200g unsalted butter, cubed
2 egg yolks
1 tbsp cold water
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp vanilla
3 gg yolks
50g caster sugar
1 1/2 tsp cornflour
4 egg whites
220g caster sugar
4 tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla
1 heaped tbsp raspberry jam
red food colouring
How to do it:
1. Make the pastry by sifting the flour into a large bowl and stirring in the sugar. Cube the butter into 1cm squares then add to the flour. Use your fingertips to rub the butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. The mix is rather wet at this stage so don’t worry. Make a well and add the yolks, water and vanilla. Bring the dough together gently (add some more water if needed but unlikely) then tip onto a lightly floured worksurface. Knead the dough a few times only to make a smooth ball. Wrap in clingfilm and place into the fridge for 30 minutes.
2. Roll out your chilled dough, which will now be a lot firmer, to about 0.5cm thick or so that it is slightly bigger than your tart tin. Use the rolling pin to line your tin, press the dough into the sides gently then prick all over with a fork. Chill for a futther 15 minutes.
3. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan. Crumple some baking paper and place onto the chilled tart base, then pour in baking beans (use rice, pasta or coins if you don’t have any). Bake for 15 minutes then remove the paper and beans, then bake for a further 8-10 minutes or until the base is dry and crisp and the top edges are browning. Leave to cool completely.
4. For the crème patisserie place the milk and vanilla into a large pan over a medium-high heat. Bring it to boiling point but do not let it boil, remove from the heat to infuse for a few minutes. Place the yolks, sugar and cornflour into a large bowl and whisk until pale and thick.
5. Whilst whisking slowly pour in 1/3 of the hot milk to the yolk mix to temper, mix briefly then add the rest. Pour back into the pan over a medium-high heat and stir with the whisk until the mixture starts to thicken considerably. This will only take a few minutes. Place into a bowl, press some clingfilm to the surface of the crème patisserie and place into the fridge to cool completely. It will thicken in the fridge as it starts to cool.
6. Pour the cooled crème patisserie into the cooled tart base and spread evenly:
Take 100g of the blueberries and all of the raspberries and arrange them on top of the crème patisserie in circles:
Place in the fridge to set while you make the Italian meringue.
7. Place 2 of the egg whites into a large free standing bowl of an electric mixer. Put 110g of the sugar and 2 tbsp of the water into a pan over a high heat. The temperature to aim for it 120°C/248°F. When the thermometer reaches 118°C/240°F start to whisk the egg whites to soft peaks.
When the sugar syrup is ready pour it into the egg whites with the mixer on a medium speed, then increase to it’s highest setting when all the sugar syrup has been added. Keep whisking until the meringue is very thick, glossy and cooled to room temperature at which point add in the vanilla.
This is the meringue for the white of the flag. For the red of the flag add the remaining sugar, water, red food colouring and raspberry jam to a pan. Make sure the colour is a dark red as the the egg whites will lighten it. Follow the same method for making the previous meringue this time omitting the vanilla at the end.
8. Place the tow meringues into piping bags. Make a small square of vanilla meringue at the top of the tart and then start to make alternate lines of raspberry and vanilla meringue all the way to the bottom:
To finish place the remaining 20g of blueberries over the square:
Uncanny! It’s as if a section was cut from the flag itself. The meringue isn’t overly sweet and adds a nice lightness to the tart. The natural juices from the fruits are a lovely little surprise in the center. It’s certainly a tart that will catch someones eye and get every in the mood to celebrate the 4th!
Give it a go yourself and thanks for reading!