Wednesday, 7 August 2013

W.B. Yeats | Berry Fruit Tart

Yeats once wrote that "the desire that is satisfied is not a great desire". The search for beauty and the desire to reconcile dream and reality has Yeats's mythic persona Aengus, god of love and poetry, wander into the realm of physical experience.

I went out to the hazel wood
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.

When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire a-flame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And someone called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.

Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done,
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.

W.B. Yeats, 'The Song of Wandering Aengus'

 Arthur Rackham, The Old Woman in the Wood

I find Yeats's later poetry much more interesting and powerful - although not unproblematic - because it often questions and even undermines the poet's dualistic and idealistic vision: the distinction between the temporal and the eternal seen in the Aengus poem. But his is a sad song for in a continually shifting world, the struggle to master the forces of change must, like with all things human, remain frustrated.

~ Berry Fruit Tart ~

Such an elusively beautiful tart with a velvety cream filling perfectly complemented by an assemblage of deep reds and purples.

(Adapted from Will Torrent, Pâtissière at Home)

1 quantity pâte sablée (for 23 cm tart tin)

Crème Pâtissière:
300 ml milk, full fat or semi-skimmed
200 ml double cream
50 g caster sugar
½ vanilla bean
4 large egg yolks
3 tbsp (30 g) cornflour
3 tbsp (30 g ) plain flour
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp Rum or another liqueur of your choice, i.e. Brandy, Grand Marnier (optional)

Berry fruit of your choice: strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries

150g jar good quality strawberry jam
1tsp Chambord (optional)
50 g raspberries
1 tsp caster sugar
3 tbsp water
a few drops of lemon juice

Prepare the pâte sablée according to directions in the recipe but you will need to bake the crust through for this tart and allow to cool completely before assembling the tart.

Heat the oven to 185 C and place the rack near the bottom of the oven.

After the pastry has chilled in the tart tin, take it out of the fridge and place it on a larger baking pan. Loosely cover the edges with strips of foil, cover the tart with a large sheet of cringed baking paper and fill with dried beans.

Bake for 15 minutes. Then lower the oven temperature to 180 C. Remove the beans and baking paper, but keep the edges covered. Patch any cracks with left-over pastry. Put the crust back into the oven and bake for another 10-12 minutes until the pastry is firm, dry and lightly golden. Remove the foil from the edges and bake for a further 5-8 minutes to give the pastry an even colour. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool completely.

Seal with strawberry jam. For this, heat the strawberry jam, Chambord (if using) or water, and 1tsp lemon juice in a small saucepan over a medium heat until it melts. Remove from the heat and strain through a fine strainer to get rid of any fruit lumps. When  the tart has cooled, brush the bottom and the sides with a thin layer of jam to prevent the crust from getting soggy. Reserve the remaining jam to glaze the topping.

Prepare the crème pâtissière: Split the vanilla bean lengthwise with a sharp knife. Pour the milk and the double cream in a saucepan. Add the vanilla bean and bring to the boil over low-medium heat, just until the milk begins to foam up.

Meanwhile, in a  large bowl whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until combined. Sift the flour and cornflour and whisk into the egg mixture until it becomes smooth and creamy.  (This gives the pastry cream a much lighter colour and a smoother finish.)

Slowly and gradually pour half the boiling milk into the egg mixture while whisking constantly to avoid curdling. Then stir in the rest of the milk in a steady flow until the mixture is well combined. Remove the vanilla bean with a slotted spoon, scrape out the seeds with a sharp knife and add them to the mixture. (You can wash the vanilla bean, dry and place in a sugar bowl to make vanilla sugar.)

Transfer the whole mixture back into the saucepan. Over low heat, whisk the mixture constantly until it thickens and starts to bubble. This will take 5-8 minutes. Remove from the heat and immediately whisk in the butter until it has melted to make the cream glossy. Then whisk in the rum (if using). This stage requires great care: if you remove too soon, you'll end up with a runny cream; if too late, the cream will be too thick.

Transfer the crème pâtissière into a clean bowl and cover the surface some cling-film or with a circle of damp greaseproof paper to prevent a skin from forming. Allow to cool to room temperature. When the cream has cooled completely, spoon it evenly into the pastry case.

To assemble the tart: Place about 50 g raspberries (any ones that are not firm) in a small saucepan with a few drops of lemon juice, 3 tbsp water and 1 tbsp caster sugar. Bring to the boil and allow to simmer until the raspberries become mushy. Pass through a sieve to remove the seeds and return to the pan.

With the pan still on low heat, add the blueberries and let them simmer for a few minutes until they soften a little. Remove with a slotted spoon and put aside to cool. Cut the strawberries in half, reserving a few whole ones with their stems uncut for decoration, and arrange in a heap with all the other berries on the crème pâtissière.

Add the reserved strawberry glaze to the raspberry juice left in the pan, stir to combine and re-heat slightly if necessary. Gently brush it over the fruit using a pastry brush.

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