We travel virtually to Paris & bake together with Mélanie Dupuis, her enchanting lemon verbena - strawberry - tart!
Even as a little girl, Mélanie looked over her mother's shoulders in the kitchen. Her mother often thought that her daughter was still a little too young for certain things. Then Mélanie would
wait until her mum let her out of her sight for a moment, climb onto a chair and try to imitate what her mother was doing.
Mélanie Dupuis comes from a large family. Choosing her own cake for her birthday, freely baked for her by her mum with a lot of love, is one of the best childhood memories for the Parisian!
At the age of 16, Mélanie began her apprenticeship as a pastry chef and realised: how could her mother make all her cakes so perfectly without any equipment? In fact, her mother baked her cakes without weighing them, all by eye, and she was always successful! This is still a great fascination for Mélanie today.
After many very good stints in starred French restaurants, Mélanie decides to turn to teaching. There she gives training courses for professionals and amateur bakers and trains young budding pastry chefs. But as time goes by, her longing for the fire at the cooker grows. Recently, she has been managing the pâtisserie of a traiteur for events such as cocktail parties and company dinners. In addition, she devotes herself to writing her cookbooks.
Insider tips from Mélanie Dupuis
1 Dear Mélanie, Is Paris something like the heart of the famous French patisserie?
Paris is indeed the place to find very good French pastries, but as in many countries, each region has its specialities.
How would you describe your philosophy in patisserie?
My philosophy is to value the ingredients used. What I particularly like is understanding what makes each ingredient tick, how it works, why a recipe can go wrong and finding out how to make amends if possible. When I first started in the profession and some pastry chefs would tell me, "Do it this way or it will go wrong," and I would ask them, "Why will it go wrong?" and they couldn't give me an answer, I was so frustrated that sometimes I would deliberately do the opposite so I could find a way to understand. That was what gave me the desire to share my knowledge.
3. You enjoy passing on the secrets of the high art of confectionery to amateur bakers. Are there any basic tips that you would recommend to us when baking at home?
For me, the most important thing is to take the necessary time to make a pastry, spreading out the preparation over several days if necessary to allow for rest periods. For a tart, for example, it is very important to make the shortcrust pastry a day in advance so that it rests well and is easy to work with. The same goes for the cream, which needs to be very cold. If you want to make a cake in 2 hours without taking into account the resting time, it is almost certain that the result will be below your expectations. All good things need time.
4. And now for two classic basic cream recipes. Let's start with the almond cream, which is baked with the tart. What can we do to make it as perfect as you did in Paris?
The ideal method is to pre-bake the tart base, let it cool, then add the almond cream on top and finish baking. If you don't follow this method, there are two risks: The first risk is that the almond cream is baked but the pastry underneath is too soft. The second risk would be that the almond cream becomes too hard because more time is needed to bake the base. That's why I would always pre-bake the base first.
5. And the second custard is the crowning glory, so to speak, for the fruit. Here it is the custard! Voila, the custard! You even enhance it with lemon verbena, how do you do that?
I think lemon verbena goes really well with strawberries, it brings a real freshness. In the recipe in the book I boil the milk with a few sprigs of lemon verbena and then follow the classic process of the recipe, but for a more pronounced flavour you can bring the milk to the boil with the lemon verbena, then put it on the side with a lid and let it steep for 30 minutes. Another tip is to put the lemon verbena in the cold milk in the fridge overnight and then make the pudding the next day.
The puff pastry, the almond cream and the tart cream can be prepared the day before. The pastry can even be made 2 to 3 days in advance, as it is baked afterwards.
7. What other fruits go well with this tart ?
Raspberries, peaches, a strawberry-rhubarb mix go wonderfully!
8. Can you give us a secret tip on how to make the fruit look so shiny?
You can sprinkle the strawberries with icing sugar, which gives them a glossy look, but pastry chefs in France often use a topping, at home you can warm up a red groats or apricot jelly and apply it to the fruit with a brush, this step is to make it look pretty but mainly to protect the fruit from the air so it doesn't spoil so quickly.
Dear Mélanie, thank you so much for your answers! It was such a pleasure to accompany you in your kitchen and watch you prepare this heavenly tart. It is a true work of art!
Lemon verbena - strawberry - tart
70 g butter
200 g wheat flour, type 405
1 g salt
70 g finest granulated sugar
60 g whole egg (1 egg size M)
FOR THE ALMOND CREAM
50 g soft butter
50 g icing sugar
50 g ground almond kernels
50 g whole egg (1 egg size M)
10 g wheat flour, type 405
FOR THE PASTRY CREAM
200 ml whole milk
40 g egg yolk (2-3 egg yolks)
50 g finest granulated sugar
20 g corn starch
20 g butter
1/4 bunch fresh lemon verbena
FOR TOPPING AND GARNISH
1 kg fresh strawberries
a few lemon verbena leaves
4. Whip the pastry cream until smooth, place in a piping bag with an 8 mm nozzle and pipe onto the tart base in a spiral.
The little handbook of tartes and tarts reveals the secrets of
the French art of baking and explains step by step how to bake fine tartes and tarts yourself at home. In the first part, the basics are presented. Basic recipes for various doughs, creams,
fillings and icings are illustrated in easy-to-understand step-by-step instructions, so that any ganache or meringue is guaranteed to succeed. The illustrated step-by-step instructions make it
particularly easy to implement. An illustrated glossary also provides helpful tips on the recipes and the individual steps.
The little handbook of tartes and cakes
by Mélanie Dupuis
19.5 x 26.4 cm, hardcover, 144 pages
Published by Knesebeck Verlag
Price 20 €