Sunday, 13 March 2011

Fresh Berry Tarts

Last month the Keston Kitchen had its first catering engagement - Charlotte's Dad was getting married and we were delighted to be asked to help prepare the afternoon tea for the reception. With over 100 guests attending it was a daunting prospect but with the bride (Jackie) and her sisters and friends involved in the baking and taking care of all the decoration, we were confident that we were up to the challenge!
Charlotte made biscotti and beautiful chocolate macaroons, Julia was on scone duty and I made 120 mini fruit tarts. It took me most of the Friday to make the pastry and pre-bake the cases. Then on the Saturday morning, with plenty of help from my mum we filled the tarts and took them to the venue with minutes to spare.

Other people had spent the morning making sandwiches and the room looked wonderful with a cake stand on each table. It was a lovely idea for a reception and people were very complimentary as we circulated the room with pots of tea and coffee.
Later on a band took to the stage and everyone jumped and danced around to work off the afternoon tea and were then more than ready to tuck into a hog roast! We all really enjoyed being a part of the wedding and I think the food worked really well having sandwiches and cakes after the ceremony and then the roast pig to keep everyone going through the evening.

Congratulations Dave and Jackie!

Rachael xx

The recipe states that you will need 5-7cm diameter and 3cm deep tartlet tins, the quantities below should make about 12 tarts of that size. Instead I used a tray that i usually make mince pies or jams tarts in which the depressions are a lot smaller and it makes about 24 of those.

If you decide to use bought shortcrust pastry-skip to the pre-baked cases section

Sweet Pastry:
(I would suggest making double the pastry quantity below so you can use a whole egg yolk and then you can freeze what you don't need for a later date:
165g plain flour
50g icing sugar
grated zest of 1/4 lemon
generous pinch of salt
90g cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1/2 free range egg yolk
1 tbsp cold water

Put the flour, icing sugar, lemon zest and salt in a bowl and add the butter. Rub it in with your hands (or use a food processor) until the mixture reaches a course breadcrumb consistency and there are not any large lumps of butter left.
Add the egg yolk and water and mix just until the dough comes together, you might need a tiny bit more water to get it to form a ball of dough.
Shape the dough into a smooth disc ready for rolling, dust with flour and wrap in cling film and chill until you need it. It will keep for a week in the fridge or a month in the freezer.

Pre-Baked Cases:
Grease you tartlet tins with butter.
Once the dough has chilled for at least half an hour, place it on a work surface slightly dusted with flour. Use a rolling pin to roll the pastry out thinly, turning it as you go. Work quickly so it doesn't get warm. Once the pastry is 2-3 mm thick, cut out circles using a pastry cutter (i used a 3 inch cutter for my mini tarts) or cut round the rim of a bowl. Line the buttered tartlet tins by placing the pastry circles inside, then put back in the fridge for another 30 minutes.
Pre-heat the oven to 150C/Gas Mark 2. Line each pastry case with a circle of greaseproof paper (or if making little tarts like me a paper cup cake case works well), the paper should stick up slightly above the pastry. Fill them with rice or baking beans (rice is good for little tarts) and place in the oven to blind bake for 20-25 minutes. Then remove the paper and beans from the tarts and continue baking them for another 5-10 minutes until they are golden brown. Remove from the oven. The paper and rice/beans can be re-used several times. Take the tarlets out of their tins and leave to cool.

Fruity Filling:

220g mascarpone cheese
220ml creme fraiche
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
50g icing sugar
100g strawberries
100g raspberries
100g icing sugar
strawberry or raspberry jam for glazing and/or icing sugar for dusting

Don't fill the tarts until a few hours before they are going to be eaten as the creamy filling will make the pastry go soggy by the next day.
Start by putting the mascarpone in a mixing bowl and loosen it up with a whisk or fork. Add the creme fraiche, vanilla essence and icing sugar and continue mixing until the cream thickens up again. Chill until ready to use.
Using a piping bag or spoon to fill the tart cases three-quarters full with the mascarpone cream.
Then be creative as you top them with the berries! I spent ages meticulously making each tart look the same and cut the strawberries into little triangles. You can just as effectively throw them on, particularly if you are making slightly bigger tartlets. Then you can paint the fruit with a glaze of jam to make them shine or dust them with a little icing sugar. Serve within 6 hours.


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