There is the sound of the icebergs bumping into each other with every wave, not unlike a distant thunderstorm. There is the forest that I’ve walked through so many times before, now covered in a thick blanket of snow. There are lakrits [liquorice] cookies in the oven. And lights by every window we see.
Yes, this is it. Sweden.
And really, it’s just as wonderful in the vinter [winter] as it’s ever been in the sommar [summer].
What’s up with the Swedish words? Well, I need to learn. And if I was ever able to speak English by writing about food back-back-back in the days. I’m hoping the same will – almost magically – happen with Swedish.
But I’ve found some amazing companions. Just yesterday, I saw Donal on television. Perfect accent and all. And today, I went to buy Linda’s beautiful baking books, which I’m utterly in love with.
In fact, I’ve been keeping an eye on every blueberry bush – how wonderful it is to walk surrounded by blåbär och lingon [blueberries and lingonberries] – waiting, very impatiently, for summer to make blåbärssylt [blueberry jam], blueberry crumble tartlets and Linda’s blåbärsrutor [literally, blueberry squares/boxes].
The tartes tropéziennes here have barely anything to do with it all. Perhaps that’s why it took me so long to tell you about them.
But when Karl ate one, he said they reminded him of semla. So there is that. And I might have to make some semla inspired tarte tropézienne very soon.
La tarte tropézienne
Adapted from Paris Pastry Club.
Back when I was a child, you could only buy a tarte tropézienne in St Tropez. We would drive through les Maures, a natural reserve not unlike the savanna. The road meandered between cork oaks and arbousiers [strawberry trees].
It was the late 80s and St Tropez still had a fishing village vibe to it. Nothing compared to what it once was, yet nothing compared to what it’s now become.
We would walk along the port, and through the market. Sometimes, we’d go up to the fort, the best view over the gulf.
And, before we’d leave, we’d always stop at the boulangerie to get a tropézienne. A brioche filled with crème madame – pastry cream with butter and whipped cream; delicately flavoured with orange blossom.
When I wrote Paris Pastry Club, more than gimmicky or trendy recipes, I wanted to share my absolute favourite basics. Ones you can tweak endlessly, creating an amazing répertoire of recipes to call your own.
And when I see all your beautiful creations on instagram or on your blogs, I’m blown away. And so so so proud to inspire you – at least a little, with my words.
These tartes tropéziennes are just this.
A tweak on two recipes from my book. The brioche, also known as the last brioche recipe you’ll ever need, and the crème mousseline, turned crème madame for the occasion, from the fraisier (and please, as soon as the strawberries will actually taste like they should, please, make one on a Saturday, and have it for Sunday lunch, trust me on that).
A few notes on the brioche:
– I made half a batch in my stand mixer without problems, but it did take a little longer than the usual double batch. If I were you, I’d make a double batch, use half for tropézienne buns and shape the other half into a loaf, which you can then bake, slice and freeze for instant morning happiness.
– Here I’ve used T55 flour, but you could also use plain flour, although make sure the protein content of your flour is around 10-12g per 100g of flour.
The higher the protein content, the stronger the flour is, which means it has more gluten. I’ve found that for brioche, I like to use flours with eleven percents of proteins.
– When you knead the dough, I recommend doing the windowpane test after around ten minutes. It’s kneaded enough wuen you can stretch a walnut-sized piece into a very thin membrane without it tearing apart. This stage is called full gluten development, and for my brioche recipe, it’s usually reached after 10-12 minutes of kneading in the stand mixer on medium speed. If the dough tears when you try to stretch it, simply knead for a couple more minutes before testing it again.
– Balling the dough isn’t only done to shape it. It’s an essential step to even the distribution of gluten strands, creating a tension layer, and making sure that no large air bubbles are formed.
To ball the dough correctly, start by portioning your brioche in even piece (I like to weigh them out so that they will proof/bake evenly). Once you have divided your dough, dip the top side in flour and dust off any excess. Place the unfloured side down on a clean work surface and roll gently with the palm of your hand in a circular motion so that the outer layer of the dough stretches into a smooth ball.
A few notes on the crème madame:
– Crème madame is a crème pâtissière to which butter and whipped cream have been added. It should be firm and glossy, and will set into a rich cream.
Really, crème madame = crème mousseline + whipped cream = (crème pâtissière + butter) + whipped cream.
– I’ve been writing a post about basic pâtisserie creams which should be published very soon.
– For a detailed step-by-step how to make crème pâtissière, please check this article.
– When making crème mousseline, start by creaming the butter using the paddle attachment of your stand-mixer until light and fluffy. Then add the cold crème pâtissière in batches, beating well after each addition. If the butter has seized a little, simply place the bowl on top of a pan of simmering water for a few seconds before beating for a minute or two; or use a blowtorch to heat the sides of your bowl. Repeat until all the butter has disappeared and you’re left with a gorgeously thick crème mousseline.
If you overheat the mousseline, it will become somewhat runny. Place in the fridge for a couple of hours, then beat for five minutes using the whisk attachment of your stand-mixer.
La tarte tropézienne
makes 8 individual tropéziennes
For the brioche
275 g T55 flour
30 g vanilla sugar
one tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp instant yeast
30 g whole milk
one tbsp orange blossom water
160 g butter, thinly sliced
one egg, beaten, for egg wash
200 g pearl sugar, to sprinkle
For the crème pâtissière
500 g whole milk
3 vanilla pods
4 egg yolks
150 g caster sugar
50 g cornflour
1 tsp orange blossom water
For the crème madame
600 g crème pâtissière (above)
150 g butter, at room temperature
100 g 35% cream, whipped to stiff peaks
For the syrup
100 g water
70 g caster sugar
one tbsp orange blossom water
If you have a stand-mixer, fit the dough hook and mix the flour, salt and vanilla sugar together on slow speed. Add the instant yeast. Then pour in the milk, the eggs and the orange blossom water.
Switch to medium speed and knead for 10 minutes, or until the dough can be stretched without breaking. Scrape the sides of the bowl every now and then to ensure everything is amalgamated.
Alternatively, mix the ingredients by hand then turn out onto a floured work surface and knead until the dough can be stretched without breaking.
Now, add the butter, one piece at a time, and when almost all of it is in, increase the speed and knead until smooth (or knead by hand). The dough should stop sticking to the side of the bowl (or work surface) and should be silky and very smooth, although somewhat tacky.
Transfer the dough into a plastic container, clingfilm to the touch, and chill in the fridge overnight.
Make the crème pâtissière.
Bring the milk and vanilla pods and seeds to a rolling boil in a medium pan set over moderate heat.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar to prevent the egg yolks from clumping. Add the cornflour and mix well until combined. When the milk has boiled, remove from the heat and pour a third of it over the egg mixture, whisking as you do so. This step is key when making crème pâtissière as it loosens the egg yolks but also tempers them, avoiding any lumps .
Pour all of the egg mixture back into the pan, return to the heat and cook slowly, whisking at all times until it starts to thicken and boil.
Once it has bubbled for a few minutes, transfer to a plastic container and clingfilm to the touch to avoid the formation of a skin. Chill in the fridge for overnight.
Make the orange blossom syrup. Bring the sugar and water to the boil. Allow to cool down slightly, then add the orange blossom water. Reserve at room temperature overnight.
The next day, scrape the dough from the container onto a clean and lightly floured work surface, gently press to degaz, and divide in eight 75g squares.
Ball each square, then roll into a 1cm-high disk, roughly 8cmm wide.
Arrange the disks of brioche onto a baking tray lined with baking paper. Cover loosely with a lightly oiled double layer of clingfilm; and proof until doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Brush the brioche with the beaten egg, then generously sprinkle with the pearl sugar. Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until golden brown.
Allow to cool down completely.
In the meantime, make the crème madame.
Cream the butter until light and fluffy. Add the crème pâtissière, one third at a time, beating well after each addition. Once all of the crème pâtissière has been added, beat for 5 minutes. The mousseline should be firm and glossy.
If the butter has seized a little, simply place the bowl on top of a pan of simmering water for a few seconds before beating for a minute or two; or use a blowtorch to heat the sides of your bowl. Repeat until all the butter has disappeared and you’re left with a gorgeously thick crème mousseline.
Finally, gently fold in the whipped cream.
Place this crème madame in the fridge to firm up slightly for an hour or so.
Once the brioches have cooled down, slice them in half with a large bread knife and generously brush the cut-side with syrup.
Transfer the crème madame into a piping bag fitted with a 10mm nozzle and pipe the cream around the rim of the bottom brioches, then pipe a large ball in the centre.
Top each brioches with their matching “hats”.
Keep in the fridge, loosely covered with clingfilm for at least 4 hours or overnight.