Pining for those summer days so hot you walk barefooted through the house? I am. I’m longing for those nights that are so hot and sticky the AC’s set at 68° and I’m sleeping in nothing but a t-shirt. And I’m looking forward to those bright mornings that are blisteringly hot and all I want for breakfast is a cold, tropical smoothie. It’s been windy and rainy here with cold days that cause me to daydream of sun-warmed fruit in all its forms, every manner of summer salad, fried chicken and blackened dolphin. Watermelon. Peaches. Oh, man…and corn on the cob taken off the grill at 8:30 at night and it’s still light out. But in the meantime I’ll trick my mind, my mouth and my heart with this charming and delightful tart that satisfies my senses. I’m a huge fan of pastry cream. I could eat bowls of the stuff. Just a taste check while making it is all the temptation I need to merrily skip down the road of licking the bowl, licking the spoon and finally throwing in the towel and eating spoonfuls. Pastry cream is like vanilla silk on your tongue. It wraps itself around your mouth and mind like the moves of a cat, smooth and fluid, to the extent that I don’t give a good goddamn if beach-time begins tomorrow. I love buttermilk equally; in biscuit, salad dressings, cakes and breads. Buttermilk pastry cream is the ultimate…it’s gilding the perfect lily. Buttermilk’s celebrated tang and texture take the usual vanilla pastry cream to the next level, a level I’m all too happy to reach. I assuage my barely guilty conscience by reminding myself that buttermilk is not a high-fat product. And as my son, James, was quick to point out, blueberries are filled with antioxidants and good for your eyes. The better to see you with, my dear tart! He really enjoyed the filling, the crust and the berries on top so as he was walking out of the house just now I asked him if he had any thoughts or words…”I ate it!” was all he said. As he did a hasty scan of the refrigerator he hopefully called out, “Mama, we got any more of that buttermilk tart?” That’s all I needed to hear to know I’ve got a blue ribbon treat in hand!
Buttermilk Pastry Cream Tart with Slightly Drunken Blueberries
Buttermilk Pastry Cream is an extraordinary filling for a fruit tart. This recipe is standard and found everywhere but is tried and true. However, the flavor of the filling will be compromised by using a low-fat buttermilk. I strongly suggest you go the extra two feet in the dairy section of your grocery store and buy the full-fat. I’ve explained in other posts that buttermilk is the liquid left behind after churning butter from cream. It is far lower in fat than whole milk and is chock full of probiotics. So forget about the reduced fat junk. Blueberries are gorgeous on this tart and incredibly delicious but pretty much all berries are, so go crazy. I typically use a rectangular tart pan, so everyone gets a good portion of crust, but any shape will work as will a pie pan.
- one baked tart or pie shell
- Fill baked tart shell with cooled pastry cream and smooth top. Chill until serving.
- Prior to serving, top tart or each individual slice with berries.
Buttermilk Pastry Cream
yield: 2 cups
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Make an ice-water bath in a bowl large enough to hold a medium sized sauce pan. (Put enough water and ice in the bowl to hold the sauce pan but not so much that water flows into the cooked pastry cream. This will stop the cooking process.) Set aside.
- In a small bowl whisk together sugar, flour and salt. Set aside.
- Combine buttermilk and egg yolks in the saucepan.
- Over medium heat whisk in flour mixture until smooth and continue whisking until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
- Remove from heat and place in waiting water bath. Whisk in vanilla extract.
- Let cool completely before using. Cover with plastic wrap directly on pastry cream to avoid “skin” developing and store in the refrigerator.
For the Blueberries
yield: 2 cups
- juice of one lemon
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 tablespoons brandy
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 4 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar, more if needed
- 2 cup blueberries
- In a small bowl whisk sugar and cornstarch until all lumps are gone. Set aside.
- Place a medium sized pot over medium heat and add lemon juice, water and brandy and simmer for one minute.
- Add the blueberries and simmer two minutes, gently stirring all the while.
- Add the sugar and cornstarch mixture and gently stir until the blueberry juices have thickened.
- Taste the sauce and, if needed, add sugar.
- Remove from heat and cool to room temperature before topping tart. This is also great served hot on biscuits, shortbreads and peach crumbles with brandied whipped cream.