It was a big birthday for my little sister this year. She turned the big 3-0. She was not happy with this development.
I LOVED my 30th birthday. Some of my best girlfriends and I went to Vegas and partied it up. I wore a tiara and had a septor and was the center of attention.
I guess that’s one of the fundamental differences between my sister and I. My sister is a background kind of person. She runs things behind the scenes, keeps a level head, and pretty much is a steady-as-you-go lady.
Then there’s me. I fully admit to being something of a drama queen every now and again. Center of attention? Probably me standing there in it. I am loud, I am fun and I occassionally have my chicken little moments.
But the one thing we both agree on is that family is important. My sister has her own family now; a loving husband and my perfect nephew. And while I knew my sister wasn’t thrilled about her birthday, there was no way I was going to let it slide by without some kind of small family celebration.
While I may be a chocolate cake and lots of frosting kind of person, my sister is all about vanilla and simpler flavors. So in deference to the fact that it’s her birthday, I decided to make a very simple berry tart with a vanilla bavarian cream filling (recipe here).
I don’t like those tarts that you see where they look all glossy and are painted with some kind of gloppy substance. Gloppy is a word. So I knew I wanted it clean and the berries to be enhanced by the subtle vanilla in the cream filling and the crisp bite of a butter crust.
The crust was relatively easy. I decided on a bit heavier of a crust, so I went with a butter and egg yolk base, as opposed to a lighter butter and shortening base. I threw in a teaspoon of vanilla extract to compliment the flavors that would be piled inside.
This isn’t the first time i’ve made the bavarian cream filling. You remember those push-up pop banana cakes from Jen’s baby shower? I didn’t get a chance to take pictures of the process since it was new to me and there’s some precise timing required.
This time around I knew what to expect and made sure to document it as best I could. The one piece of advice i’d have for anyone looking to make an intermediate to advanced level dessert is to read and re-read the instructions. You don’t know how many times i’ve been thwarted when I need to chill something for hours and I don’t know that ahead of time and have to go with plan-B.
It took me 2 days to make this, only because I planned very well and knew the bavarian cream needed 4-5 hours at a minimum to set-up in the fridge. You also want the crust completely cool, so I baked it the day before and left it out overnight (because the kitchen at my mom’s house is -100 degress this works. However, in a house where it’s warm, you may want to wrap it well and let it cool in the fridge overnight).
I was also lucky enough to have a mom who was able to clean the fruit for me and set it up so that it was ready to go when I got to her house.
This was a phenomenal dessert if I do say so myself, and completely worth the little bit of work for a special occassion.
My sister is also totally worth it and having everyone rave and devour the dessert was the icing on the cake. So to speak.
- 1 stick cold, unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1-4 tbsp ice water
- Cut your butter into small cubes and put back into fridge until ready to use
- Put the dry ingredients into a food processor (or medium bowl if doing it by hand) and pulse a few times to combine
- Put the cold butter into the dry ingredients and pulse (or use pastry cutter) until the butter is about the size of peas in the flour
- Add in the vanilla and egg yolk and pulse to combine
- Add in ice water by tbsp until the dough comes together. The dough sill be very loose and crumbly. That’s ok
- Put the dough on some plastic wrap and shape into a round disk
- Wrap tightly and put in the fridge for at least 30 minutes and up to a few days
- When ready to bake, generously butter a tart pan (1 large, several small, but easier with removable bottom)
- Preheat your oven to 375
- Take the dough out of the fridge and put on a lightly floured surface
- Roll out the size of your tart pan and place into the pan
- Make sure to stuff it in all the nooks and crannys. If you need more dough in some areas pinch of over-hang from other areas. You want it pretty even and you won’t see all the other stuff once baked
- Place a piece of parchment paper on the tart and fill with beans or pastry beads (I forgot to do this step so my crust puffed up, but it sank once out of the oven so it’s not that big a deal. The sides just kind of come down a bit)
- Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown
- While the tart is baking, wash your fruit and slice up your strawberries
- Once it is out and COMPLETELY cooled, put in plenty of the bavarian cream. Layer the berries in any form you want, or just pile it all in there.
- Slice and serve