Lately I've been really intrigued by everything infused with flowers. Be it lavender, verbana (or verveine), chamomile or rose, these flowers give baked goods a subtle yet amazingly floral aroma, cutting through their sweetness and adding them a beautiful depth of flavour.
I made this recipe in both tart and tartlet form for different occasions so you can pick which shape works best for you.
It took me a few tries to get the right chamomile amount and I have had friends and clients taste it before I came up with the final result and I'm very excited to share this final version with you.
There are three different components to this recipe so I will cut the introduction short and start with all the tips and tricks I'd like to share with you so your experience making these beauties can go as smoothly as possible.
For the decoration of your tart or tartlet, you can draw inspiration from my pictures or you can bring your own twist to it. I'm always delighted and inspired when I see readers come up with their own twists. I highly recommend using chamomiles for decoration because they look gorgeous but don't forget they shouldn't be consumed that way. They have a very bitter taste so be sure to remind your family, guests or friends that they're for decorative purposes only!
Let's dive in!
Tips and Tricks:
If you're making tartlets, cut your dough in half and keep one half in the fridge while you're working with the other half. This way your dough will stay nice and cold which will prevent it from retracting during baking.
If your dough gets too soft when rolling it out, pop it in the freezer for a couple of minutes.
Make sure you assemble your tart right before serving. Otherwise your crust will get soggy and might break.
While making a tart, towards the end of the blind baking process (about 5 minutes before it's done) you can brush the inside of the crust with egg whites. This will create a protective layer on top of your dough and prevent it from getting soggy.
You can make the pastry cream the night before. When it's time to assemble, take pastry cream out of the fridge, transfer it to a mixing bowl and soften it by whisking vigourously. Don't worry if it's taking a little bit of time, just keep whisking.
If the cream is not fully covered, the part that is exposed will dry out and become crusty. Make sure your cream is wrapped well.
Before assembling the tart, make sure all of your components are fully cooled.
I highly recommend not refrigerating or freezing this tart recipe. While a lot of pies and tarts can be frozen, this one is best consumed fresh. However the dough freezes very well, I always recommend having some of this dough ready in your fridge for emergency dessert craving situations or for when you have unexpected guests.
The shortcrust dough recipe I'm giving is made by hand, if you want you can also make it using a mixer adding in the ingredients in the same order.
You don't have to throw away the used, boiled vanilla sticks, you can give them a wash and let them dry, store them in an airtight container and use them as decoration on desserts!
Sweet Shortcrust Dough:
This recipe will make enough dough for two 18 cm diameter (7 inch) or one 32 cm diameter (12.5 inch) tarts or about fifteen 11 cm diameter (4.3 inch) tartlets.
250 grams or 2 cups of all purpose flour
1 gram or a pinch of salt
125 grams or 1 cup of icing sugar
125 grams or 1/2 cup of butter, medium diced
Preparing the dough:
1. Mix together the cold butter and icing sugar using two bench scrapers. Try not to touch the dough as much as you can, so the bench scraper or dough cutter are your best friends. We want the butter to be as cold and unmelted as possible all throughout this process.
2. Add in the flour and again - using the bench scrapers - mix everything together. This technique is called "sabler" in french and it means "sanding". The butter must be mixed in so that the mixture has the consistency of sand. It's okay if there are small lumps of butter here and there, when it comes to shortcrust pastry, overworking is much worse than working it too little.
3. Make a well, crack the egg in the middle (or ideally, crack the egg into a separate ramequin and transfer it into the well) and add the salt.
4. Take a fork and slowly whisk the eggs into the mixture.
5. Knead the dough very lightly (I prefer washing my hands in ice cold water and drying them before doing this to lower their temperature) until the dough is barely coming together. This step should not take more than 2 minutes.
6. Shape the dough like a ball, wrap it in plastic wrap and let it rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. The longer the resting time the better.
Blind baking the crust:
1. Heat your oven to 180 °C or 356 °F.
2. Roll your dough out 3 to 5mm or 0,11 to 0,19 inches thick and place it in the buttered tart pans / molds of your choice. No need to butter if your pan / mold is non stick. Prick holes into the bottom of your dough with the help of a fork or a dough docker.
3. Bake for 20-25 minutes for a tart and about 13 minutes for tartlets. The dough should develop a beautiful golden brown colour right before you take it out.
4. Let the crust cool, you can store this crust in an airtight container in room temperature overnight or in the fridge for up to two days.
Note: As a principle, I don't wish to promote single use plastics and plastic wraps but a plastic wrap is what most will have readily available so we're going with plastic. If you have more natural food wraps like beeswax feel free to use it but make sure you wrap your dough really well, otherwise you're running the risk of drying it out.)
Vanilla Bean & Chamomile Pastry Cream:
Makes enough to fill one 32 cm (or 12.5 inch) diameter tart or eight 11 cm (or 4.3 inch) diameter tartlets.
500 grams of milk
100 grams of sugar (divided in half)
25 grams of arrowroot powder or cornstarch
25 grams of all purpose flour
50 grams of butter, diced into medium sized cubes
4 tbsp of dried chamomile
1 stick of vanilla bean or 2 to 3 tsp of vanilla extract
1. In a medium sized pot, mix the milk, the chamomile, half of the sugar and the vanilla bean together. Don't discard the vanilla bean after you've scraped it. Put the scraped bean into the pot as well. Bring the mixture to a boil.
2. In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together the other half of the sugar and the eggs.
3. Drain the milk and remove the chamomile and the vanilla bean. Put the infused milk back into the pot.
4. Add the flour and starch to the egg mixture, whisk everything together until it gets a little foamy.
5. Lower the heat to medium, slowly add about half of the milk mixture to the egg mixture to prevent the eggs from scrambling from high heat.
6. Pour everything back into the pot, whisking constantly, bring everything back to a boil. At this stage your cream will start thickening and you should keep whisking.
7. Take the cream off the heat and incorporate the butter by whisking it in one cube at a time.
8. Place cling film on an oven tray, pour the pastry cream on, straighten it with a spatula and cover it with cling film. Make sure there is no air trapped between the pastry cream and plastic.