There is definitely an art to making a good tart and Master Pâtissier Eric Lanlard has certainly perfected the art of his tart in his latest book Tart It Up! For some, tarts are the ultimate comfort food and as we move into winter, it’s time to step things up a gear. One thing is for certain; we’re not in soggy school dinner territory here. As has come to be expected from Eric, a good dose of his trademark ‘glamour’ is injected and you’ll find recipes for just about every tart you’ll ever need.
Pastry Basics & Extras
Tart It Up! opens with a section called Pastry Basics, which includes recipes for Shortcrust, Sweet shortcrust, Almond shortcrust and my favourite, chocolate shortcrust pastry. There is also a yeasted Brioche and a puff pastry recipe, too with Eric’s tips on lining and blind-baking.
All in all, the recipes and techniques are easy-to-follow and there are photos (by Kate Whitaker) of almost every recipe, which helps you to know what you’re aiming for. I tried Eric’s shortcrust pasty (with a filling of my own) and found it to be a sound recipe – though you won’t get a slapped wrist if you use a good quality shop-bought version, especially with a trickier pastry, such as puff.
There is a very small section in between the savoury and sweet with some suggestions for savoury sides, as well as a few sweet ones, Raspberry swirl cream, Lemon cheese, at the back, so don’t miss those.
Although Eric is most well-known for his stunning cakes and delicate French patisserie, the savoury tarts at the beginning of the book really drew me in.
Seasonal vegetables are given a whole new lease of life, especially in this Heritage beetroot and broccoli tart. The beetroots are roasted in the oven first with some orange zest and sugar, the broccoli blanched and the whole lot bound together inside a simple short crust base with Mascarpone, cream and egg with a hint of nutmeg and chives. Off to the farmers’ market I go…
There are also some clever tricks if you and pastry really don’t get on. The Scallop and courgette crumble pie avoids the need to make any pastry at all. Baked in mini copper pans with a wholemeal and Parmesan crumble topping, you can’t really go wrong. You could bake them in mini-dishes or ramekins or even make one large crumble – but the copper pans are firmly on my Christmas list!
There is also a luxuriously comforting Seafood and potato pie, easy filo-topped Thai crab mini pies and some vegetarian choices too, such as Eric’s Butternut squash and mushroom pies, perfect for the onset of a cold winter. Get your blanket, a big bowl and a large spoon!
Back into the sweet comfort zone, fruit features heavily, but the Chocolate crumble tart and a Warm flambéed banana and chocolate tart made it to the top of my list first. Nigella Lawson featured Eric’s Banana and Rum Pie on her blog, for its ‘inviting and welcome ease.’
Most of all, I like the variety of tarts on offer; classic British, such as Treacle Tart or proper Quiche Lorraine, classic French, such as the Tart au Citron, which I’m keen to try, classic American such as The BEST pumpkin pie. There’s even taste of the West Indies, too, with a gorgeous square chocolate tart infused with vanilla, star anise and cinnamon, which I think would make a brilliant Christmas centre-piece with a twist.
In the meantime, I’ll leave you to try this Pear and hazelnut tart – printed with permission of the publisher. I have developed a bit of a thing for square tarts since having this book and I love how the pears lie so lazily on their pillow of nutty cream.
I think I’ll make a double batch of the hazelnut cream as it sounds heavenly. I wonder if you will, too?
Pear and Hazelnut Tart by Eric Lanlard
Tarte Bourdaloue is a classic dish, and this is my take on it.
I’ve replaced the almonds with hazelnuts, giving a more nutty taste and the dark chocolate drizzle is the perfect finish.
Preparation time: overnight for the pears, plus 25 minutes, plus chilling
Cooking time: 15 minutes
- 1 x blind-baked sweet shortcrust pastry case (see page 11), in a 23cm (9in) square, 3cm (1¼in) deep tart tin
- 60g (2½oz) plain dark chocolate, chopped
- 30g (1oz) roasted hazelnuts (or almonds), roughly chopped
For the poached pears
- 8 large pears
- 100ml (3½fl oz) water
- 100g (3½oz) golden caster sugar
- 1 vanilla pod, split lengthways
For the hazelnut cream
- 300ml (½ pint) milk
- 60g (2½oz) cornflour
- 3 eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla sugar
- 75g (3oz) golden caster sugar
- 100g (3½oz) roasted ground hazelnuts
- The day before you are going to make the tart, poach the pears. Peel them, cut them in half and remove the cores. Put the water, sugar and vanilla pod into a large saucepan. Gradually bring to the boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Plunge the pears into the simmering syrup, cover and cook for 10–12 minutes, or until a knife goes into the flesh easily. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the pears to cool in the syrup, then place the pears still in the saucepan in the refrigerator overnight for the flavours to infuse.
- When you are ready to make the tart, make the hazelnut cream by pouring the milk into a saucepan and bring it to the boil. Put the cornflour into a large bowl and mix in the eggs, one at a time. Add the sugars and mix well. Pour the hot milk over the egg mixture and stir well. Return the mixture to the saucepan and bring to the boil, then simmer for 2 minutes, stirring continuously.
- Add the ground hazelnuts to the cream and mix well until combined.
- Using a palette knife, spread the cream into the cooked pastry case.
- Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of barely simmering water, making sure the base of the bowl does not touch the surface of the water. Drain the pear halves and arrange them on top of the cream, sprinkle with the roasted hazelnuts and drizzle with the melted chocolate to finish.
- Allow to cool in the refrigerator for a minimum of 2 hours before serving.
Tip: I like to roast the hazelnuts for a few minutes in a hot oven to enhance their flavour.
Tart It Up! is Published by Mitchell Beazley, RRP £18.99. With thanks to the publisher for my review copy. Photographs by Kate Whitaker. Recipe and photographs used with permission of the publisher.
Are you a tart fan? Have you had any tarty disasters in the kitchen?!