Dominique Ansel is the pastry genius behind the viral pastry phenomenon – the Cronut®, a croissant-donut hybrid – that had people queuing for hours just to get one. The French pastry chef is a James Beard award winner, bakery owner, cookbook author and casually known as the world’s best pastry chef.
His latest cookbook, Everyone Can Bake, acts more like a masterclass with Ansel than just a recipe book. It is a cookbook in which he teaches the building blocks of baking, that once mastered, allows you to mix and match to create your own unique delicious creation.
The book is split into three sections – bases (cakes, tarts, brownies, cookies), fillings (pastry creams, jams, mousses, curds) and finishes (meringues, glazes, ganaches). Each recipe starts off with his go-to base – the foundation. He then explains how to take that base and alter it with different flavours and applications. He explains in detail techniques like how to foncage a tart shell, preserve jam and build a cake. He also includes a list of equipment – both his essentials and extras, as well has how to time your baking.
I love to bake and get enjoyment from learning new techniques, understanding ingredients and the actual process of baking. Spending days working on a pastry is time well spent for me. Everyone can Bake is one of the few cookbooks I have read cover to cover absorbing his lessons, instead of flipping through and tagging the recipes I want to make. I didn’t actually tag anything – I’m using it as my baking guide and anytime I bake something, I check to see if he has a base or a technique I can use. While I’ve been using it to create my own baking creations, he has a number of ideas like his peanut butter crunch cake, pavlova (I’m taken by how he shapes it) and fragipan tart that I’m just waiting for the right occasion to bake. It’s a brilliant cookbook and a cookbook that would make a wonderful gift for someone who loves to bake, in fact if you love to bake this is the cookbook you need.
After reading about his croissant test – the test any pastry chef who wants to work at one his bakeries must undergo, I frantically flipped through the pages to see if he included a recipe. There is no recipe in Anyone Can Bake but I did find his croissant recipe here which I made and while my honeycomb crumb needs work, taste wise it’s the best I have made.
The recipe I’m sharing is actually two recipes that I’ve combined to create my own fruit tart. I don’t really make tarts; but the tarts in Everyone can Bake made me want to make a proper tart. That and I wanted a 20cm not fluted tart pan as he suggests, and this was the perfect chance to purchase one.
For the tart shell, I used his go-to vanilla sablé tart shell, removing the vanilla and adding in some lemon zest because I love the combination of lemon and berries. The filling was his go to pastry cream, recipe halved, and the topping, fresh berries. You’ll have left over dough from the shell and Dominique adds tips on how to use up scraps as food waste is his big no-no. I rolled the leftover out and cut it into cookies.
Measurements are all in grams, which means you need a kitchen scale. A kitchen scale is one of Ansel’s essential and as I’ve said before it’s the kitchen item you don’t know you need until you get it and then you’ll never know how you managed without it. In terms of timing, I made the tart shell and pastry cream on Day 1 and assembled on Day 2.
Everyone Can Bake Dominique Ansel’s Fruit Tart
Lemon sablé tart shell
- 185 grams plan flour plus more for dusting
- 85 grams icing sugar
- 50 grams cornflour
- 1 grams Salt
- the zest of 1 lemon
- 130 grams unsalted butter cut into cubes, at room tempature
- 50 grams egg 1 large
- 267 grams whole milk
- 65 grams granulated sugar
- 93 grams egg yolks about 4-5 large eggs
- 55 grams unsalted butter cut into cubes, at room temprature
- assorted fresh fruit and berries
- kitchen scale
- 20cm tart tin / ring
- fine mesh sieve
Lemon sablé tart shell
- Make dough: Combine the flour, icing sugar, cornflour, salt and the zest of one lemon in a large bowl. Add the butter and mix with your hands until the butter is broken down into pieces the size of peas and the ingredients are well combined. Add the gg and mix with a spatula until the dough is smooth and the egg is fully incorporated. Don't overmix.
- Chill the dough: Turn the dough out onto a large piece of plastic wrap and gently shape it into a ball. Wrap the dough in the plastic wrap and flatten it into a disc. Refrigerate it for at least an hour or overnight. It should be cold but still pliable.*
- Preheat the oven: Place a wrack in the center of the oven and preheat to 175C.
- Roll out the dough: Flour your working surface and your rolling pin. Unwrap the dough and place it on your work surface. Roll it out into a rectangle about 3mm thick. Work quickly so the dough doesn't get too warm.
- Shape the dough: Using a 20cm tart tin as a guide, cut the dough into a round that is 2.5cm wider than the ring (this ensures the dough will come up the sides of the tart ring).**
- Foncage the tart shell: Butter your tart pan. Place the round of dough on top of the tart tin and push down gently with your fingers, pressing the dough along the inside of the tin and into the inside edge. Don't press too hard, and try to keep the dough an even thickness so that it bakes evenly. Use a paring knife to trim any dough hanging over the sides of the tin. Refrigerate the shaped tart shell for 15 minutes to cool it down so it doesn't shrink.
- Blind bake the tart shell: Line the tart shell with a round of baking paper, the surface of the dough should be completely covered. Fill the tart shell with uncooked rice or dried beans to keep the dough in place. Bake n the centre rack until the tart shell is light golden brown. 15-20 minutes.
- Unmold the tart shell: Cool for 2-3 minutes and then unmold the tart shell while it is still warm (it's easier to remove). Let cool completely before filling. Only fill it just before serving to keep the tart shell nice and crisp.
- Make the warm milk mixture combine the milk and 33 grams of the sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring to boil over medium heat, whisking continuously. Remove from the heat.
- Make the cornflour mixture: Whisk together the remaining sugar and the cornflour in a large bowl. Slowly whisk in 60 grams of the milk mixture.
- Temper the egg yolks: While whisking, add the egg yolks to the cornflour mixture one at a time, whisking until each yolk is incorporated before adding the next***. Pour the tempered egg yolk mixture into the pan with the remaining milk mixture.
- Finish the pastry cream: Cook the pastry cream over medium-low heat, whisking continuously, until it thickens into a pudding-like consistency, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add the butter and whisk until the butter is evenly combined and the pastry cream is pale yellow with a smooth, glossy texture. Strain the pastry cream is pale yellow with a smooth, glossy texture. Strain the pastry cream through a fine mesh sieve to remove any lumps. Let cool and then chill before using.
- To assemble the tart: Stir the pastry cream with a spatula until it softens and is spreadable. Spread it over the cooled tart shell in an even layer. Add your fruit to the top. Ansel believes that you should not be able to see any pastry cream through the fruit so be generous.
- Best eaten the day it is made, but will keep in the fridge for 2 days.
Everyone Can Bake was given to us by Jonathan Ball Publishers and is available here. Jonathan Ball Publishers nor the author approved or reviewed this piece prior to publication. Opinions + images are our own. Recipe is reprinted with permission.
Zissy is the co-founder of Nutreats. She likes to make things, do things and wear things.