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Skills you must have: Crème Patissiere

SATURDAY 3 MAY 14h00 - Afternoon post
This is one of those recipes, the ones that you have to know.  A crème patissiere, is the classic custard filling in so many pastries and cakes.  It is, however, not the bright yellow stodgy stuff the supermarkets inject into soggy éclair cases, it is a light delicately vanilla scented cream.  The perfect base for a fruit tart, the silky sweet custard balancing the tart fruits.
Use ready made short crust pastry, or make your own (Full recipe & Step by Step Video coming soon) short crust pastry.  Then pour the custard in and tumble berries or any other fruit over the top for a dramatic tea time treat.
Crème Patissiere
Makes 2 cups
– 5 egg yolks, room temp
– 3/4 cup sugar
– 3tbsp corn starch
– 1tbsp butter
– 1tsp vanilla
– 1tbsp heavy cream
– 1tbsp brandy
–  1 1/2 cups milk, scalded
In a bowl of a beater add the sugar and the egg yolks, on medium-high speed whisk the egg yolks and sugar until thick and creamy, at least 5-8 minutes.  Now sieve the corn flour in and continue whisking on a low speed.  Add the hot milk in a slow stream with the mixer running on slow, being sure not to add it to fast or you will scramble the eggs.  once all the milk is added transfer it to a heavy based sauce pan and on a low heat bring the mixture to a slow boil, stirring continuously.  When you start you will notice a light white foam on the top of the mixture, from the air bubbles caused during the mixing.  As the mixture thickens this light foam will start to disappear.  Once it has all disappeared swop from the wooden spoon to a whisk and cook for a further 2-3 minutes, whisking continuously until thick and creamy.  Now stir in the brandy, butter and heavy cream.  If you are worried about the smoothness of your crème patissiere just run it through a fine sieve, but if you keep an eye on your cooking temperatures this recipe is almost fool proof.  Remove from stove, transfer to a bowl and loosely press a sheet of cling wrap to the custard, this will stop a skin from forming.
If you want a slightly thicker custard you can add an extra tablespoon of cornstarch, but this custard is the right consistency for filling delicate eclairs and light fruit tarts, it is not stodgy or heavy.
To make a quick fruit tart, take a nice sweet short crust pastry, will share my recipe soon, line a pie tin with it and bake it blind till crisp and golden.  Once the crust has cooled, line it with a thin layer of preserve, in this case I used raspberry, you can mix the raspberry jam in with a tablespoon or two of crème patissiere so that you can get away with putting less but getting it everywhere, which makes the tart less sweet.  Top it with the light crème patissiere filling the tart shell 3/4 and then tumble fruit onto the top, you can just cover a central portion with fruit and not the whole tart as this is still a lot of fruit.  For extra sweetness I like to glaze the fruit lightly with a drizzle of raspberry jam and honey mixed together, heated and strained.

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