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As I sit here under the sway of the palms planning the last bits and pieces for Christmas, I have a splendid display before me. In the smooth as glass Atlantic Ocean, are loads and loads of whales, blowing streams of white spray into the air. The performance, seemingly synchronised among the different pods; it is for me like a symphony playing out to the sounds of nature, just so wonderful to observe.

Back to planning; every good meal deserves a happy ending and this French Raspberry Tart will do just that. What is nice about this tart is that most of the preparation can be done the day before and quickly assembled when needed.

French Raspberry tart

Ingredients

1 x 23cm pastry case (see recipe below)

Fresh raspberries, to cover

1 recipe crème pâtissière (see recipe below)

1 recipe raspberry fruit glaze (see recipe below)

Icing sugar to dust over tart

Method

1. Bake prepared pastry case

2. Make the crème pâtissière

3. Make the raspberry fruit glaze

To assemble the tart: half fill balked pastry case with crème pâtissière and arrange raspberries in circles on top; coat with raspberry fruit glaze. Dust with icing sugar (optional) Serve chilled.

Pâté Sablée

For the pastry you will need

225g sifted plain flour

180g diced cold unsalted butter

1 tablespoon icing sugar (level measure)

A pinch of salt

1 egg yolk

A little ice water (equal to the egg yolk)

Method

Place the butter, flour, sugar and salt in the food processor and blend briefly until the mixture resembles coarse sand.

Combine the egg yolk with an equal amount of iced water; mix together and add to the pastry in the bowl. Blend briefly until the ingredients just start forming a ball. Remove and roll gently into a ball, wrap and put in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

Flour a working surface as well as the rolling pin. Roll out pastry and try not to stretch it, rather gently roll out from the centre until large enough to fit the pastry tin. Should the pastry break while handling it, don’t be concerned, this pastry is so rich, that you can patch it up by pressing torn edges together with your fingers.

When sufficiently large enough, roll the pastry gently over the rolling pin and lift it over the tin, gently drop the pastry in and ease and press it loosely down into the tin, press it against the sides until it is an even thickness all round. Roll the rolling pin across the top of the tin to cut off the excess pastry. Prick the base and sides of the pastry shell with the prongs of a fork, chill pastry for 30 minutes.

Blind bake the pastry in a hot oven 230C for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 180C and bake for 30 minutes. Should the crust start to brown at the edges, cover with foil.

Crème Pâtissière

450ml milk

1 vanilla pod, split

5 egg yolks

100g castor sugar

2 level tablespoons cornflour

1 level tablespoon Butter

Method

Pour the milk in a medium sized pan, add the vanilla pod and bring to the boil over low heat. Once up to heat remove, cover and leave to infuse until needed.

In a bowl whisk egg yolks with sugar until thick and light in colour; gradually whisk in the cornflour. Remove the vanilla pod from the milk and gradually pour milk into egg mixture, whisking until blended.

Pour mixture back into the pan and bring to the boil over moderate heat, stirring constantly. Once up to the boil, simmer for about 3 minutes, beating vigorously.

Remove pan from heat; beat in 1 level tablespoon butter and continue beating for a little longer to cool the pastry cream slightly.

Put the cream in a bowl and cover with a sheet of lightly buttered paper to prevent a skin from forming on top. Allow to become quite cold then chill until required.

Fruit glaze

300ml apricot, raspberry or red currant jam

Kirsch, a splash

4-6 tablespoons Water

Method

Add 4-6 tablespoons water to apricot jam and heat, stirring constantly until liquid; flavour to taste with kirsch.

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