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Steve Joll's dessert recipes - 16 February

Blueberry tart

Creme Patissiere

Whatever you might think of the Frogs, er, French, there are a few things they do as well as anyone: romance, wine, cheese and sweet treats, for example. This recipe comes all the way from the French west. A woman who lives in a small town not far from Evian was kind enough to teach me the secret to creme patissiere and now I'm passing that secret on to you.

As girly, fancy and foreign as it might sound, creme patisserie is just one of those absolute musts. It's not hard to make, it lasts for ages in the fridge and it has a dozen different uses. Any sweet tart, plenty of desserts, profiteroles, eclairs and more all have the stuff in them.

So, learn this well.

The key: Easy does it when adding the hot milk. The idea is to slowly warm the rest of the mixture without cooking the egg.

500ml  milk
3 eggs (separated)
100g sugar
50g flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla (or a pod if you have one is even better)
A pinch  salt

- When you separate the eggs keep one white and throw the other two away. 
- Put all three yolks in a bowl with the sugar and whisk it till your forearms bleed (or just enough to make it nice and frothy). 
- Add the flour in thirds, each time whisking it through. If you want the final product good and thick add it all, if you prefer it more custard-like, only add the first two thirds.  
- Keep whisking.
- Add the extra egg white and whisk some more.
- In a pot, bring the milk and vanilla to the boil.
- SLOWLY pour the milk into the egg mixture, stirring with a spoon or spatula. 
- Once it's all mixed in put the whole lot back on a medium heat and stir till it thickens. It takes a few minutes and then happens all of a sudden. 
- Leave to cool and then chill.

Tip: Once you've poured the creme into a bowl, grease some baking paper with butter and place it on top of the mix. This will stop it getting a skin on top.

Blueberry Tart

For the shortcrust (sweet) pastry
2 cups Champion standard flour
Pinch salt
2 tbsp icing sugar
1 egg
2 tbsp lemon juice
120g butter (cold/grated)

Sieve the flour into a bowl with the pinch of salt and, if you're making the sweet pastry, mix through the icing sugar.
Add the grated butter.
Smoosh it all together with a fork, then get your fingers in and squeeze the butter through the flour until it goes like breadcrumbs.
Make a well in the centre with a spoon and crack in the egg yolk. Start to mix that in from the centre out and squeeze in your lemon juice. Slowly add a little water and start working the mixture together with your hands.
As soon as it's a 'rollable' consistency knead it a couple of times - not too much.
Wrap it in cling film.

Chill in the fridge at least 30 mins.

Blueberry Tart:
Shortcrust pastry (as above)
Creme patissiere (as above)
2 punnets of blueberries.

Press the pastry into a 23cm tart dish and 'blind bake' for 15 minutes at 160degC. Take out the baking paper and rice and let it bake for another couple of minutes till just brown. Let the pastry cool, fill it half way up with creme patissiere, then pile on the blueberries.