Writings on curious recipes, food I've tasted around the world and the quest for finding the perfect blueberry muffin.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Raspberry semolina tart - regaining my good baking karma

Last week my baking karma was off. I don't know what it was, but the carrot cake sandwiches (essentially two carrot cake "cookies" with a cream cheese filling in the middle), which sounded amazing in theory, didn't live up to my expectations - too dense and dry - and the chocolate custard torte I slaved over for nearly three hours just didn't want to set and ended up a wobbly mess. And on top of that, it was too salty. Too salty! Who salts their desserts too much? Sigh.

After those two misses, it was essential that I baked something delicious. My self esteem (and my sweet craving self) could not handle another failure. I would be destroyed.

So, in the hopes of ridding myself of this bad karma, I turned to someone who has never let me down. My dear friend Ottolenghi, who you might remember from the previous post. While I've never baked anything from their cookbook, I've gone to Ottolenghi plenty of times and have fallen badly for their sweets - amazingly moist carrot cake, delicious tarts and the most incredible caramel macadamia nut cheesecake. Oh God, my mouth went dry just typing that.

And so I flipped through the pages of the dessert section, staring at the stunning photos, until my glance fell onto a beautiful raspberry semolina tart - and the flipping stopped. 

A sweet pastry crust filled with a silky custard of whole milk, whipping cream and semolina, scented with the extracts of a vanilla bean, sweetened with just the right amount of sugar and topped with the first raspberries of the season.

This did it, people. My good baking karma is back! The tart was amazing, everyone had seconds - and thirds, but really, who's counting? - even people who don't normally eat sweets. And now that my self-confidence has been restored, all I want to do is bake, bake, bake. I even feel as if I could takle this cake. Well, almost.

Raspberry semolina tart
Adapted (barely) from Ottolenghi

While everyone agreed that the tart was absolutely wonderful, the next time I make it, I'll put slightly less butter in the crust - maybe 20g less. This is just a personal preference of mine, when I said this out loud, a friend at the table said "Are you kidding? There's no such thing as too much butter". So I suggest you try it as is and see for yourself.

Makes 1 18cm // 7 inch round cake

Sweet pastry crust:


330g // a little more than 2 1/2 cups of plain flour
100g // 1 scant cup icing sugar
grated zest of 1/2 lemon
1/4 teaspoon of salt
180g // 1.5 sticks // 12.5 tablespoons of cold, unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 free-range egg yolk
2 tablespoons of cold water


Put the flour, icing sugar, lemon zest and salt in a bowl and add the butter. Rub it in with your hands or, more easily, using a mixer fitted with the beater attachment. Or you can do the job in a food processor. In all cases, you need to mix the ingredients until you get a coarse breadcrumb consistency, making sure there aren't any large lumps of butter left.

Add the egg yolk and water and mix just until the dough comes together, being careful not to mix any longer than necessary. You might need to add a tiny amount of extra water.

Remove the dough from the mixing bowl and knead very lightly for a few seconds only, just to shape it into a smooth disc, 5-6 cm // about two inches thick. Wrap in cling film and chill until ready to use. The pastry will keep in the fridge for a week and at least a month in the freezer.

Raspberry and semolina tart:


Vegetable oil for brushing the tin
Plain flour for dusting
250g // 8.8oz of sweet pastry (I made the whole amount of sweet pastry dough above and used the left over dough to make 6 little tartlets filled with mascarpone cream and topped with berries!)
80g // 4.5 tablespoons of unsalted butter
180ml // 3/4 cup of whipping cream
245ml // 1 cup of milk
60g // 1/4 cup plus a heaping teaspoon of caster sugar
60g semolina
1/2 vanilla pod
1 free-range egg
200g // 7oz of raspberries


Lightly brush an 18cm // 7 inch loose-based cake tin with a tiny amount of oil and then set aside.

Make sure you have a clean work surface and a bit of flour to dust it with. Using a rolling pin, roll the pastry out into a rough disc, 2-3mm thick. Work quickly, turning the pastry around as you go. Once you have reached the right thickness, cut the pastry into a circle large enough to cover the tin and most of the sides comfortably. Carefully line the tin, patching up any holes with excess pastry if necessary. When the pastry is in place, use a sharp little knife to trim it so you have a neat edge, roughly 3cm high. Place in the fridge to rest for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 170°C // 340°F. Cut out a circle of baking parchment large enough to cover the base and sides of the cake tin. Place it inside the case and fill up with pie weights or dried beans or rice so the sides of the pastry are totally supported by the beans and won't collapse during baking. Bake the case blind for 25-35 minutes (I needed 35) or until it is very light brown. Remove from the oven and take out the beans or rice (you can keep them for future tarts).

To make the filling, put the butter, cream, milk and sugar in a saucepan. Slit the vanilla pod open lengthwise with a sharp knife and scrape out all the flavorsome seeds. Drop the seeds and the scraped pod into the pan. Place the pan on the stove and bring to a boil. Let it simmer while you whisk in the semolina in a slow stream. Continue whisking until the mix comes back to a boil and thickens up like porridge. Remove from the heat and whisk in the egg. Remove the vanilla pod.

Pour the semolina mixture into the pastry case and level it with a wet palette knife. Push half the raspberries inside, until the filling is slightly on the surface. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the filling is slightly golden. Remove from the oven and cool slightly before removing the tart from the tin. * Scatter the rest of the raspberries on top and dust it off with powdered sugar.


*I waited for the tart to cool completely and then placed it in the fridge for a few hours. I preferred it cold. 


Elisa said...

oh it looks really amazing!!!

littlemissdids said...

Thanks Elisa! :) You should try it!

Post a Comment