While I was writing up the post about Ricotta Yogurt Cheesecake, I found this one in my past recipe collection. The memory of the delightful taste instantly came alive and I thought I’d like to share it with you. We’re going back in time to 2009…
I hadn’t taken much of jacaranda trees lining streets of Sydney, announcing the start of spring, until three weeks ago when I went on a school excursion and heard a co-teacher explaining about the specialness of the trees. I would see purple colours in streets and think summer is getting closer but didn’t pay enough attention; maybe I did, when I first came to Australia, and I remember walking through jacaranda tree-lined streets of Paddington with girlfriends of mine, chatting and laughing, exhilarated by the sight of the beautiful flowers falling as if it was snowing, and then, over time, the significance of the tree that once existed in me seems to have faded and died .
“It’s human nature to start taking things for granted again
when danger isn’t banging loudly on the door.” ~ David Hackworth
We often forget how precious people around us are because you assume that they will be there for you no matter what and you turn elsewhere to find meaning and answers. Then, we realise the meaning of their being there, once they are gone. To save me from regretting in the future for not having beautiful photos of jacarandas in full bloom, I went to the spot where fallen flowers were carpeting the ground and managed to get some shots before it started to drizzle.
There is a cake rooster for Friday at work, which I take quite seriously as an opportunity to test my weird recipes on the taste of the general public; still it is not the best way to get unbiased, honest opinions since people tend to say only good things about what you bring, first, to avoid offending the person who made the cake , creating awkwardness, and having the whole idea of Cake Day ripped apart as a result, and second, not to be seen as a snob by complaining about free food!
The idea of ‘plum tart first came along after the plum tart I had from ‘Central Baking Depot’, where I have a lunch time treat, ‘chocolate poppy seed stick’, and recently I have been getting my weekly supply of fennel cherry walnut bread. As you know,
it is very difficult to find a decent patisserie in Sydney, things have changed since, so buying good bread is a bit of a mission. I used to go to ‘Bourke Street Bakery‘ when I was living in Surry Hills, and this newly discovered place is a gem that makes me smile whenever I pass it on the way home from work.
As plum season is still a month away, when I saw prunes in my pantry, I said to myself, “Why not?” I, first, soaked the prunes in Cointreau to soften them up as well as to enhance or disguise – whichever you prefer to see it as- the flavour of dried fruit.
I was rather surprised by the outcome and patted myself, AGAIN, for my ingenuousness. The prunes, with their intense flavour, still had their moistness, and because they are not acidic as fresh plums, they didn’t kill the delicate flavour of vanilla. I made strawberry custard tart prior to this, and I remember it wasn’t as good as this, with all the liquid from the fruit extending the cooking time and destroying the look and taste. If you ever decided to give this recipe a go, I’d love to hear your opinion. 🙂
I had it with ‘Mocha Affogato’ – coffee with chocolate ice cream instead of vanilla ice cream. I had to be very quick to take pictures since the ice cream was melting or rather ‘drowning’.
Vanilla Custard Tart with Prunes
For the pastry
125g cold unsalted butter, diced
75g icing sugar
1 large egg, beaten
250g plain flour
A pinch of salt
cold water if necessary
For the custard
2 cups milk
3 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
1 vanilla bean or 1 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbs castor sugar
1 cup prunes, cut and soaked in Cointreau
Nutmeg to sprinkle
1. First, make the pastry. Process diced, flour and sugar until it resembles bread crumb. Add egg and process for 2 mins until the dough comes together. Flatten the dough into a disc, cover and chill for at least an hour, until firm.
2. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface and use to line a 20cm fluted tart tin with a depth of 3.5cm. Line the pastry case with greaseproof paper, fill with rice and chill again for 20 minutes. Then, preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180°C/350°F and place a baking sheet on the middle shelf while the oven heats.
3. Bake the pastry case on the sheet for 15 minutes, until pale golden. Remove paper and rice and cook for a further five minutes. Remove from the oven, then reduce heat to gas mark 2/150°C/300°F.
4. Make custard in the meantime, by whisking egg, sugar and vanilla in a bowl and heating milk. Whisk hot milk into the egg mixture and pour it into the pastry that has been lined with prunes.
5. Bake it at 180°C for 15 mins and sprinkle with nutmeg, and then bake for further 15 mins.
6. Allow to cool and refrigerate till cold.
I just found these recipes by chance, making me surprised that my prune custard idea has its origin in France. What a coincidence!