A riverboat cruise company recently asked me to contribute recipes to some of their stops along the Rhône river. For the Macon stop, I decided instead of making a boeuf bourguignon recipe, I would make a prune tart.
Prunes are wonderful in France. If you’re familiar with my other recipes you’ll know that I’m a fan. Here, you can buy them in the market. They’re juicy rather than dried. Semi-dried. I used to work at a restaurant where people would often order the prunes rather than a chocolatey dessert. Though, to be fair, they were stewed in red wine and spices.
Making your own pastry is messy, often tedious, and you need to do it a few times before you get the hang of it. When we first moved to France I planted blette (Swiss chard) in my garden. I had bushels of the stuff. A rather lot of quiche had to be consumed! In my effort to not waste, I was constantly experimenting with recipes. I tend to like the richer pastries with egg yolks.
It’s been a while since I’ve made homemade pastry. Despite this, Robin and I are still extremely sensitive to that moment when the other person is putting the pastry into the pie dish. It’s one of the essential rules of the relationship. Get out of the room at that moment.
I hope I’m not discouraging you.
I wanted to share here my absolute favourite recipe for pastry. It works. It’s easy. I still had to compare it though.
I still had to compare it though.
Operation Homemade Pastry
Homemade Pastry 1: Recipe by Keith Floyd from his book Floyd on France.
The recipe said things like: add milk until a pastry is formed. Ya. Thanks. Thankfully, I have an idea of what the pastry should be like.
The ingredients (I halved the recipe):
250g sifted flour, 125g butter, 1 egg, pinch of salt, 1/2 glass of cream
I added together the dry ingredients and slowly incorporated the butter and egg with my fingers. I mixed it well together and let it rest in the fridge for 2 hours.
Then, I rolled it out and placed in the pastry case with relative ease.
Recipe 2: Homemade Pastry: Almond Flour by BBC Good Food
- 200g plain flour
- 175g ground almonds
- 175g golden caster sugar
- 200g cold butter, diced, 1 egg yolk
This is incredibly easy. The dough is quite wet so there’s no rolling out to be done. You can even combine it in a food processor. You stuff the dough into the pastry case as thick or thin as you like it. Fingerprints and all. It will end up looking gloriously rustic. I baked the pastry, with the prunes, for 40 minutes at 190°C.
Go to the BBC Good Food website for the full recipe (their version with cherries).
Despite the elegance of the traditional pastry, the almond flour and extra sugar in the second recipe add so much more flavour. I now have my definitive sweet pastry recipe.
Share your best pastry recipe in the comments. What’s your secret? Have you mastered the transfer of the rolled dough to the pastry case? Do you use baking beans?
Above all, do you think it’s worth making your own pastry?