There’s always one thing that I absolutely HAVE to get every time I go to Bourke Street Bakery, and that’s a strawberry vanilla brûlée tart. I went to Bourke Street Bakery a few weeks ago late in the afternoon and I was so disappointed that they had sold out of them that I went back the next week just to satisfy my craving. And oh it was so good, the crispy, buttery pastry with the creamy custard filling and of course, that crunchy, slightly bitter toffee on the top.
Sadly Bourke Street Bakery is quite far from me and so I thought I’d try making these yummy tarts at home using the recipe from the Bourke Street Bakery cookbook. It was surprisingly straightforward and to me the worst part was having to wait for the pastry to relax because I just wanted to bake them, blowtorch the hell out of the sugar on the top and devour them all!
Ok, so I admit I was still impatient and I didn’t go through all the resting periods for the pastry which is why it shrank in the oven. But apart from having slightly shallower tart shells, the pastry was still as flaky and crisp as I remember it to be from the actual shop. I was also a bit ambitious with the amount of strawberry puree at first so when I put the custard into the tart shells it started to displace the strawberry puree that was in there – that’s why there’s not much strawberry in the photo unfortunately.
I’ve provided the original recipe below but since I only had 6 small tart tins that weren’t quite the same size as specified, I just adjusted the measurements for my requirements. I found that even after doing that I still had some leftover strawberry puree but you can always use this as a topping for ice cream or another dessert. Or just do what Sir D did and drink the leftovers!
Strawberry Vanilla Brûlée Tarts
adapted from Bourke Street Bakery: The Ultimate Baking Companion
For the Sweet Shortcrust Pastry (Pâte Brisée) (makes 20 x 8cm tarts)
400g cold unsalted butter, cut into 1.5cm cubes
20ml (1 tbsp) white vinegar, chilled
100g caster sugar, chilled
170ml (2/3 cups) water, chilled
665g plain flour, chilled
5g (1 tsp) salt, chilled
For the vanilla crème brûlée
720ml cream (35% fat)
1 vanilla bean, split lengthways
10 egg yolks
80g caster sugar, plus extra for blowtorching
For the strawberry purée
250g fresh strawberries, washed and hulled
120g caster sugar
1. First, make the sweet shortcrust pastry: Remove butter from the fridge 20 minutes before you start mixing. Put the vinegar and sugar into a small bowl; add water and stir well. Set aside for 10 minutes and stir again to completely dissolve the sugar.
2. If you have a food processor, place the cubes of butter, flour and salt into the food processor and pulse 3-4 times in 1-second bursts to partly combine. There should be squashed pieces of butter in the mixture. If you don’t have a food processor, use your hands to rub the butter into the flour to partly combine. Turn the flour mixture out onto a clean work surface.
3. Sprinkle the sugar mixture over the dough and use the palm of your hand to smear the mixture away from you across the work surface. Gather the dough together and repeat the smearing process a few times until the dough comes together. You should still be able to see streaks of butter in the dough – this gives the pastry a flaky texture. Divide the dough into half and shape each portion into a round disc. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
4. Make the vanilla crème brûlée: Put the cream into a saucepan, scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add to the cream along with the bean itself. Bring to the boil on high heat, and remove as soon as it boils and set aside for 10 minutes. Whisk the egg yolks in a stainless steel bowl and add sugar. Whisk for 30 seconds or until the sugar has dissolved.
5. Pour the slightly cooled cream through a sieve, discarding the vanilla bean, and pour into the egg yolk mixture, whisking to combine. Put the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, making sugar the bowl does not touch the water, and whisk continuously for 10-15 minutes or until the mixture is thick and smooth.
6. Remove from the heat and whisk vigourously for 2 minutes to cool down the mixture. Leave to cool for 1 hour and whisk every 10 minutes to cool. Clean the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, then place plastic wrap on top of the custard (coming into contact with the custard) and refrigerate overnight to set.
7. 20 minutes before you want to roll out the pastry, remove it from the fridge. Sprinkle some flour on your clean work surface and onto the rolling pin. Working from the centre of the pastry, gently roll the dough away from you, turn the dough about 30 degrees and roll out again. Repeat until you have a flat, round disc of about 3mm thickness. Transfer the pastry to a tray and refrigerate for 2 hours. [This is the resting period that I skipped, and it still turned out fine although I think the pastry would have shrunk less if I had rested it]
8. Remove pastry from the fridge and cut out rounds from the pastry that will fit your tins (for 8cm tins, you will require 11cm rounds). Place the pastry over the centre of the tin and gently push the pastry into the tins, working until the pastry is all the way into the corners of the tin. Place your prepared tins into the freezer for 20 minutes.
9. Preheat the oven to 200ºC, with the tray that you are going to put the tart shells on inside the oven. Remove the tart shells from the freezer and line with a double layer of aluminium foil, pushing the foil all the way into the corners of the pastry. Fill with pastry weights or rice and place onto the hot baking tray and blind bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the pastry is golden all over. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool.
10. Meanwhile, prepare the strawberry purée: Place the strawberries and caster sugar into a food processor or blender and process until smooth.
11. When the tarts are cool, put about 3/4 teaspoon of strawberry puree into the centre of the tart shell. Spoon or pipe the custard into the tart shells and slightly overfill them. Using a small palette knife, scrape off the excess custard so that it is flush with the top of the tart shell. Place in the refrigerator for 4 hours.
12. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of caster sugar on top of each tart and brûlée with a blowtorch until brown and caramelised. Repeat with a second layer of sugar if you’re feeling particularly indulgent :)