I have mentioned before that I would like to be able to go to a café and get a pretty, light gluten free cake to go with my coffee or a glass of prosecco . Carrot cake, brownies, peanut butter cookies are all easy to find and there are time when I pass a patisserie window and wish I could have one of the delicate little cakes that are lined up on display.
Any of the tiny little cakes that are mostly mousse would be simple to make using a flourless chocolate sponge as a base, gluten free choux pastry is a doddle to make so I don’t see why I can’t have an éclair or two and individual gluten free tarts couldn’t be easier.
I made gluten free choux buns recently using up the crème patisserie I had left over from this recipe for miniature fruit tarts. With a pastry shell that is sweet and buttery, almost a shortbread rather than a pastry, filled with smooth custard and topped in strawberries and blueberries these tarts are delicious and beautiful to look at and a prefect option if you are organising a fancy afternoon tea.
The pastry recipe here makes a lovely sweet dough but it is an absolute nightmare to roll out in this Summer heat. I started rolling it out between two sheets of baking parchment I quickly had to switch to rolling out directly on the cold marble slab I am very lucky to have which kept the dough from literally melting while I rolled. If you don’t want to chance risking this dough then use a regular gluten free sweet short crust instead like the one I used for the mini apricot almond tarts:
Sweet Pastry Dough
1 & ½ cups Doves Farm Gluten Free Plain Flour
½ cup icing sugar
¼ teaspoon of salt
4 ounces of unsalted butter, chilled
1 large egg, lightly beaten with a fork
• Place the flour, salt and icing sugar in a bowl
• Grate or cut in the chilled butter and rub together until you have the consistency of breadcrumbs.
• Add in the egg and with a fork bring the dough together.
• Turn the dough out on to a floured surface and very lightly knead it to bring it together in a ball. Handle this dough as little as possible as the heat from your hands will start to melt it.
• Wrap the dough in cling film and chill for at least an hour before rolling it out.
• To roll the dough you can place it between two sheets of baking parchment and gently press down with your rolling pin and then roll out. Once the pastry is rolled out leave it between the two sheets of baking parchment and lay it on a tray or plate before popping it back in the freezer for a half hour before cutting out the shapes for your tart tins. This will make it easier to lift the cut shapes from the baking parchment without them disintegrating in your hands. However if you do this allow them to come back to room temperature before pressing them in to the tart moulds.
• If you have a granite or marble work surface then you should roll directly on that and when the pastry is rolled out you can start cutting out the shapes straight away.
• Preheat your oven to Gas 5/190/375f
• Butter your tart moulds or individual mini tart tins and gently press in the cut pastry.
• Place the pastry lined tart moulds ( I used a 12 space bun tray for this) back in the freezer for a half hour, this will prevent the dough from shrinking.
• Cut baking parchment to fit the sizer of the lines pastry mould and line each tart shell with baking parchment before filling with baking beans.
• Bake the tart shells in the pre heated oven for fifteen minutes before taking them out of the oven and carefully removing the baking parchment filled with the baking beans.
• Brush the tart shells with egg wash and put the tray back in the oven for another ten minutes until lightly golden and cooked through.
• Remove the shells from the tray and allow to cool completely before filling with the pastry cream. I stored mine in an airtight container overnight and they were still crisp the next day.
This is a super simple, butter free version of pastry cream from the lovely www.tarteletteblog.com
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 cup of milk
1 egg and 1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons of caster sugar
2 tablespoons of cornflour ( or cornstarch, not corn meal)
• Pour the milk and vanilla extract in to a medium sized sauce pan, one with a heavy base will be best as this will help to stop the milk from catching or scorching. Bring the milk to a gentle simmer over a medium heat.
• In a bowl whisk together the egg, egg yolk sugar and cornstarch.
• When the milk hot slowly pour it over the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly to prevent the eggs from curdling and turning in to scrambled eggs.
• Pour the mixture back into the saucepan over medium low and cook whisking constantly until the mixture thickens in to a custard. You will know it is done when it looks like a thick béchamel sauce.
• Scrape the custard in to cold bowl and allow to cool completely. Place a piece of cling film directly on top of the surface of the custard skin from forming .
To make the tarts, take the cooled tart shells and fill with the cooled custard and top with sliced strawberries or the fruit of your choice. Dust lightly with icing sugar before serving.
These would be lovely for afternoon tea for mother’s day, a very tame and civilised hen party or as a birthday treat served with a glass of prosecco.