Slightly sweet & salty French butter biscuits – just irresistible!
Egg yolk recipes that require 4 yolks
A typical French winter classic: leek pie from Picardy which uses 4 egg yolks! For National Pie Day.
The last time I made this French Apple Custard Tart, I earmarked the recipe and put it aside in a special file called “Best egg yolk recipes: must make for le blog”. That was last autumn.
Luckily this delicious custard tart and I were reunited with me falling on the stairs – there’s always a silver lining! A forced foot-rest due to ankle sprain and torn ligaments has had me rather house-bound and frustrated at cancelling pastry and chocolate walks in Paris but an office clean-out has meant that the tempting yolk recipe file has resurfaced from the back of the cupboard!
This French Apple Custard Tart recipe is also ridiculously easy – especially if you cheat and buy ready-made pastry. However, I do urge you to make your own sweet pastry here, as adding that extra touch of cinnamon in the base had even my cinnamon-avoiding husband ask for a THIRD slice.
Techniques such as blind-baking the pastry beforehand is also cleverly replaced by simply laying out the apples and baking them before adding the filling. For macaron, meringue, and financier lovers, then you’ll appreciate having another egg yolk recipe up your sleeve and the good news is that this filling uses 4 egg yolks! The filling couldn’t be simpler – just whisk the whole lot together and pour on top of the apples.
French Apple Custard Tart
Recipe adapted from ‘Tarte aux Pommes à l’Alsacienne’ in France the Beautiful Cookbook by the Scotto Sisters – with extra cinnamon and reduced sugar in the filling. If you make tartlets, either butter tartlet moulds or use 6 tartlet rings.
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 45 minutes
Makes one 25cm tart or 6 tartlets
300g sweet pastry (with 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon)
2-3 apples (Golden Delicious or Cox’s Pippin)
4 egg yolks
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
200g double (heavy) cream
1. Preheat the oven to 210°C/410°F (gas 6 1/2). Butter a 25cm tart tin (no need to butter if using non-stick moulds) or tart ring. Roll out the pastry dough larger than the tart tin (about 4cm larger) and press into the tin. Chill in the fridge.
2. Peel, quarter and core the apples. Cut each quarter into 4 slices and arrange them evenly over the pastry, starting from the outside and overlapping the slices slightly in the form of a rose. Bake for 15 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, using a hand whisk, beat the egg yolks, sugar, cinnamon and cream. Pour over the apples and bake for 30-35 minutes (20-25 minutes for tartlets) or until the apples are tender.
No need for any ice cream or cream; just enjoy on its own served warm with a cup of your favourite tea for the perfect Sunday teatime treat.
After tasting the exquisite Pastéis de Nata from Comme à Lisbonne in Paris, I just had to make these delicious Portuguese custard tarts at home. Besides, it’s a great egg yolk recipe!
In true lazy gourmet style, I cheat and use ready-made puff pastry. There’s nothing wrong with that. Just remember to use a good quality all-butter puff pastry. I use either defrosted (here in France, Picard do a good frozen puff), or ready-rolled (these are in packets of 230g and so easy to use). If you can’t find ready-rolled, just roll out the pastry to 3-5mm thickness and cut out your circles according to the recipe below.
One factor that’s not easy to control is the traditional extra hot oven needed to make traditional sized custard tarts more genuine looking. As not all of our home kitchen ovens can go up as high as professional ovens to give them that beautifully scorched look, put it as high as you can – and keep an eye on them! I’d suggest 7-10 minutes if it’s very hot, otherwise for about 10-15 minutes.
PASTÉIS DE NATA RECIPE
Recipe inspired by Denise Browning at From Brazil to You, who adapted it from the cookbook, “Cozinha Tradicional Porguguesa”. Denise made mini tarts, whereas I made a slightly bigger, more traditional size like they serve at Comme à Lisbonne. So I used half quantity to fill regular muffin moulds, and cut down the sugar slightly, using a vanilla pod/bean instead of the extract.
Makes 12 tartlets (using 2x 6-cavity non-stick muffin moulds @ 7cm diameter)
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Baking Time: 8-15 minutes (depending on your oven)
4 egg yolks
15g cornflour/cornstarch (a lightly heaped tablespoon)
1 vanilla pod/bean, scraped of seeds*
250ml whole milk
230g puff pastry (1 pack of ready-rolled or a pack of frozen puff, defrosted)
Powdered cinnamon (to serve)
* 1 tbsp vanilla extract
1. Chill a bowl in the fridge. Put the egg yolks, sugar, cornflour and vanilla seeds (scraped from a pod cut in half down the middle horizontally) in a saucepan and mix well using a balloon whisk until you have a creamy paste. Gradually add the milk, whisking until mixed well together.
2. Put the pan on a medium heat and whisk constantly until the mixture thickens. Remove pan from the heat. (If you don’t use the vanilla pod, add the extract at this point). Transfer the custard to the chilled bowl and immediately cover it with cling film to prevent a skin from forming. Set aside to cool.
3. Lightly oil or butter the muffin moulds and preheat the oven preferably to the highest setting – I used 250°C/480°F/230°C mark 9.
4. On a lightly floured surface – roll the pastry if needed – using a cookie cutter or glass (about 9cm diameter, slightly bigger than the 7cm diameter muffin cavity), cut out discs and press them into each cavity. Spoon in the cooled custard about 3/4 to the top then bake for 7-10 minutes. Keep an eye on them!
5. Leave to cool in the moulds/tins for about 5 minutes then turn them out on to a wire rack.
Serve them slightly warm and lightly dusted with cinnamon.
P.S. As large quantities of egg whites were used for starching clothes in the monasteries and convents around the 18th Century, the monks discovered this delicious way of using up the egg yolks and so a legendary Portuguese pastry was born! And just for the record, I don’t starch hubby’s shirts with egg whites. Macarons are much better fun!
Click here for more about Pasteis de Nata and how popular they are!
Ouf! Over the years, I’ve come to use this word just as the French use so often. It’s more than Oh-là-la; it’s just, well, ‘ouf’! It speaks for itself with an enormously liberating sigh of relief. ‘Cest ouf’ as well: meaning it’s fou (verlan speak which is back to front for ‘fou’, meaning crazy). We are, indeed, nearly there at the end of a crazy, mad term; finishing end-of-year school activities, exams, concerts and – last but not least -parties!
Last weekend we covered ourselves in flour with a make your own pasta early birthday party for Lucie and this weekend my eldest daughter, Julie, enjoyed a sugar candy bonbon rush with her class as they danced the night away. Oh, to be 13 again. They’re no longer referred to as parties, though: instead it’s a boum. Another Ouf! It gave me an excuse to clean out the garage, too. How much stuff can we accumulate over the years?
Meanwhile, as the weather has been less than summery in Paris lately (read: winter has been joining summer this year), at least the strawberries (Mara des Bois, Plougastel, Gariguettes, etc.) have given us some happy colours and cheered us up no end with their sweet, candy-like flavours. We’ve been simply eating them with morning cereal and with tons of ice cream, such as wasabi, pistachio and vanilla ice cream, but recently I can’t stop making berry tarts. It gives me a great excuse to use up egg yolks by making crème pâtissière.
What I love about pastry cream is that you can alter the flavours to alter classic French desserts. After visiting the Eugène Boudin exhibition at the Jacquemart André Museum, we couldn’t resist a sweet French fancy treat at 4 o’clock in their chic café: mine was a Fraisier à la pistache. Bingo with such blissful inspiration! Pistachios and strawberries are heaven together, so why not in a tart?
Berry good indeed.
Classic Sweet Pastry
Makes enough for 2 large tarts. I use half and either freeze the rest or save it up to 4 days in the fridge and make tarlets with the rest.
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Chilling Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Baking Time: 20 minutes
120g butter, softened
1 large egg
250g plain flour, sifted
good pinch of salt
1 Using a stand mixer, mix the butter and sugar until pale and creamy. Gradually add the other ingredients until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl.
2 Knead into a ball, wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for at least an hour.
3 Remove from the fridge and leave at room temperature for 30 minutes for ease of use. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
4 Roll out the pastry on a well-floured surface to a 28cm/11 inch circle with 5mm thickness and transfer to a 24cm (9 inch) non-stick tart pan.
5 Press into the mould. Prick the pastry with a fork and top with baking paper (cut to size – I use the same one several baking sessions for convenience) and fill with washed coins, rice or dried beans to blind bake the pastry.
6 Bake for 20 minutes then remove the baking beans.
7 Leave to cool, remove from the mould and set aside.
Pistachio Pastry Cream (egg yolk recipe)
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
Cooling Time: 30 minutes
500ml whole milk
1 vanilla pod (or bean)
4 egg yolks
1 tbsp pistachio paste*
20g single cream
3 drops of almond extract
(* if you don’t have pistachio paste, whizz 100g unsalted pistachios in a grinder. Mix together with 25g ground almonds, 50g sugar, 2 drops of almond essence and a tbsp water)
fresh strawberries, cut in half
1. Boil the milk with the vanilla pod and pistachio paste in a saucepan. Remove from the heat and leave to infuse for about 10 minutes. Remove the pod, scrape out the seeds and add to the milk.
2. In a mixing bowl, whisk the yolks with the sugar and gradually add the cornflour. Whisk until light and creamy. Pour on the hot milk and transfer back to the saucepan, whisking continuously over a medium heat until thickened.
3. Set aside and leave to cool. Place some cling film directly on to the pastry cream, to avoid a film forming on top (you don’t want to whisk this in later, otherwise you’ll end up with a lumpy bumpy cream!) After about 10 minutes, whisk in the almond essence and the cold cream. Cover with the film again and chill in the fridge.
4. Cut the strawberries in half. Fill the pastry base with the pastry cream then place the strawberries on top.
Don’t forget that there are plenty more recipes to use up your egg yolks
on the bonus recipe index.
Did I ever tell you how much I actually enjoy visiting my dentist?
It’s not just that he’s in the oh-so-chic 16th arrondissement with shops for the ladies, but I can’t help feeling cool knowing that I share the same dentist’s chair as the French TV celebrity chef, Cyril Lignac.
In the waiting room, there was this cloth stapled to the other part of the room. Own up: would you dare to peek and see what was behind it? Is it Cyril’s own private waiting room? Or perhaps it’s a storeroom for the extra giant drills…
Leaving the surgery, tongue sliding over shiny, polished teeth, thoughts of gleaming porcelaine teacups come to mind with sweet accompanying French treats for goûter at quatre heures. This sweet temptress is tapping at my head, ‘Go on, a bit of sugar won’t do any harm after the spring clean, will it?’
Passing this tea salon, Thé Cool (thanks to my girls who noticed this play on words for ‘Tu es cool’), L’Eclair de Génie has just opened its doors in the Passy Plaza. The genius of Christophe Adam’s Eclairs is set out neatly in flashy, colourful rows. Each small éclair is as pretty as the next. He even transfers Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam to his white chocolate topping; also highly appropriate, since the word éclair means ‘a flash’ in French.
Genius, too, at €5.50 each. I promise my girls that we’ll come back after our shopping for friends’ birthday presents but somehow, we run out of time and speed off to the party. ‘Mum, les éclairs?’
A promise is a promise but no turning back. They have to be homemade. So, en route to the party, I feel a flash of Adam’s inspiration as I’m driving back to the suburbs. Suddenly, another flash of Pierre Hermé’s Ispahan macaron (rose, raspberry and lychee) comes to mind and there we have it: a rose éclair, Ispahan style! They’re not quite as fancy as the ones we saw in Paris but I can tell you, they disappeared in an oh-là-la flash and we enjoyed them last weekend for French Mother’s Day. You could say they’re cheaper by the dozen!
Rose, Raspberry & Lychee Eclairs Recipe (Ispahan-style)
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 35 minutes
Follow the recipe for choux buns then using a piping bag with a serrated tip (about 10mm), pipe out long éclairs on baking trays covered in greaseproof/baking paper (or Silpat mat) Leave a good space between each mound, as they will spread out during baking. No need to glaze. Bake in the oven at 180°C for 25 minutes. Leave to cool on a wire rack then cut the tops off horizontally.
ROSE PASTRY CREAM (Crème Pâtissière)
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
Chilling Time: 1 hour
500ml full milk
20 ml rosewater*
4 egg yolks
pinch of pink powdered colouring (optional)
1/2 tin lychees, drained
200g fondant (ready made)
1 tsp rosewater
* you could use rose syrup but reduce the sugar to 60g
1. Heat the milk with the rosewater in a saucepan.
2. In a mixing bowl, whisk the yolks with the sugar then whisk in the cornflour until light and creamy. Gradually add the warmed rose milk and pink colouring, whisking continuously until thickened.
3. Leave to cool. Place cling film directly on top of the pastry cream to stop a thick layer forming (if you whisk that in, you’ll get lumps!) and chill in the fridge for an hour.
4. Meanwhile, whizz the drained lychees in a blender (even better if you have fresh lychees) and using a spoon (I used a grapefruit spoon, so that it’s easier to aim) fill the raspberries with the lychee purée.
5. Gently melt the fondant in the microwave (or over a pan of boiling water) with the colouring, a teaspoon of water and rosewater. Mix well before it cools and dip the éclair tops into the rose fondant.
6. Pipe the cream into the éclairs adding the lychee-filled raspberries and place on the éclair tops.