I confess this is an experiment. I long to make cherry cafloutis and have not been successful. I think it is the texture that is foreign to this mid-American palate of mine! And ever since I watched all of the BBC series As Time Goes By I have urges to make Custard Tarts which were Lionel’s favorite teatime treat.
The weather cooled off sufficiently for me to want to turn on the oven. What to bake? I dream of biscuits, cakes, pies…and custard tarts! I have a pie dough circle in the freezer and get that out to thaw. I go through my French Feasts cookbook looking for custard. There are lots to choose from. Questions flood my brain: do I pre-bake the crust? which custard cream can be baked? do I bake the cream in the crust? Should I make the whole recipe or half. I see that I and the son have marked the recipes on Page 456 with the amounts for half recipes.
I chose the creme patissiere (pastry cream). I chose to prebake the crust and possibly bake it again with the cream filling. I do not spend any time researching what to do through cookbooks or the internet. I roll out the crust and try to fit it to an 8 inch spring form pan. This was my first mistake: I should have used a regular 9 inch pyrex pie pan. Who knew?
I also decide to make a topping using canned tart cherries. I “melt” 1/2 cup apricot jam in a small sauce pan and add 1/2 can of cherries. Bring to boil and stir.
For the “creme pat”:
- 4 cups milk; I make this with 2 cups half-and-half and 2 cups water. The only milk I have in the house is almond milk and that has very little fat in it.
- 2 eggs
- 4 egg yolks
- 1 cup sugar
- 2/3 cup flour
- 1/3 cup butter
Whisk the eggs, yolks, and sugar until pale. I don’t think mine got to pale. I used a hand whisk and not the mixer. I add about 1/2 teaspoon vanilla to add some flavor. Meanwhile put the milk in a heavy bottomed saucepan with the butter. And scald. To this I added the zest of one lemon to augment the custard for the cherries. Add a little of the scalded milk to the egg mixture and then return to the saucepan whisking constantly while adding. I then remembered to add 2/3 cup sifted flour to the egg mixture before I had added it all to the milk. I got that sorted out and this mixture gets cooked gently for 10 minutes. I whisked it a lot of that time to be sure it would be smooth. It came out nicely. I have too much pastry cream for the little crust I had formed.
I baked the crust for 10 minutes with lid used for the baking blind. I have to get me some of those “baking stones” soon! Ugly, ugly, ugly! And not so crisp. The sides shrunk down as well. I have very little success pre-baking pie crusts. I put it back in the oven for 5 minutes without the lid in it. Now it looks a bit browner. Maybe it is okay. I decide at this time to just add the pastry cream and chill.
The mistakes I made:
- not properly shaping and pre-baking the pie crust in the proper pan. This is not a short crust but a flaky crust that most of us Americans use for all pies.
- making too much pastry cream and not letting it cool before filling the pie crust.
- not cooking down the jam and cherries long enough to make a thicker sauce.
But how does it taste? Let’s find out.
Nice flavors. The custard was loose. Perhaps more time in the refrigerator will set it better. I will find out tomorrow. The crust was nicely colored and crisp on the bottom. Good bake! I have lots of pastry cream leftover so cream puffs may be on the menu this week!