Quality first of all
“Good raw materials are the basis for successful cakes.” For Claire Heitzler, a pastry chef from the Paris region, who worked at Ladurée and Alain Ducasse, there are no secrets: “For the dough I prefer French wheat, grown correctly, and not the industrially produced one, enriched with gluten, the specialist specifies. I use salted butter, very interesting in cooking. We are lucky to have great productions in France, mine most often comes from Normandy. And of course, the main one, seasonal fruit, perfectly ripe, grown by small local producers. Biodiversity is essential, and also a way to respect nature “.
The best of fruit
Claire Heitzler chooses her fruit at the best time of the season: “I work side by side with my growers, I go to the field and they teach me a lot. I discovered that there were a hundred varieties of rhubarb. I am of Alsatian origin and it is a fruit which I particularly like.
From scarlet red to pale pink, they are distinguished by different degrees of acidity. To each, its application in the kitchen. I appreciate the scarlet Mikoot or the colorful Frambozen. The more acidic varieties I associate them with a sweet pastry, rich in butter, and counterbalanced with a cream cheese or a yogurt filling to offer a very sweet side in the mouth. Strawberries must be grown in the ground “How can we talk about the terroir when they are grown above ground?” asks the chef.
Read also: Rhubarb and almond tart
And it’s not about wasting: “Last year I bought from my producer whole stocks of exploded but sun-kissed fruit, unsaleable for him. I made some jams that served as a filling for a fig and rose tart. “
The little extra
How do you keep fruit very juicy with crunchy batter? Claire Heitzler has her secret: “First I pre-cook the dough, then I add a cream based on almond powder that absorbs all the juice, then I arrange the fruit, peaches for example, and cook again. Once the cake has cooled, I add the peaches poached in the vervain syrup, so the dough stays dry. “
You can also try it with hazelnut, pistachio, coconut powder, fine semolina … For his part, Yann Brys, the best worker in France and pastry chef at Evok hotels, keeps fruit fresh: “When it’s in season, it’s ideal, fruit offers a scent, a delicacy … On the shortcrust pastry I prepare a soft marzipan base, egg, whipped egg white.
Sometimes I put the brioche or a grated sponge cake on top to better absorb the humidity. I have Mirabelle plums, strawberries… The idea is to find good combinations. Strawberry goes well with lemongrass, raspberry with orange, blueberry with iris, blackberry with thyme and lemon … “
If you want a dough that will hold while cooking, it’s best to prepare it the day before, then let it rest overnight in the refrigerator. “On the other hand, it’s essential to cook it on D-Day!” says Claire Heitzler. Likewise, avoid too hot ovens, Yann Brys recommends starting “at 160 ° C (thickness 5-6), otherwise the edges will burn immediately and the dough is not cooked. Leave to cook for about 15 minutes, then continue at 150 ° C (th. 5) until a nice color is obtained.
The chef uses stainless steel circles because they spread the heat well and facilitate the handling of the dough. There are also perforated hoops which provide better ventilation. “The ceramic rims are also perfect.”
Last tip: “Before putting the dough in the oven, make sure it is very smooth, with the same thickness everywhere, this also affects the quality of the cooking.” All that remains is to practice!
In our regions
– The Norman tart: Comes from Normandy, as the name suggests, it is made with apples, eggs, cream, sugar with a pinch of calvados.
– Prunes cake: Originally from Meurthe-et-Moselle, it consists of a dough covered with biscuits (petits-beurre, speculoos, etc.) crushed to absorb the juice of prunes sprinkled with sugar.
– Bourdalogue or amandine tart with pears: Parisian specialties including shortcrust pastry, vanilla frangipane or almond and pear cream.
– Brimbelle cake: Vosges recipe based on brimbelles (wild blueberries), cream, eggs and sugar.