Banana & Pudding Pastry


Hello readers. It is once again time for you to join me on a cheap, cheap journey into the possibilities of cooking with the cheapest ingredients. Did I mention cheap?

Recently I’ve started to learn how to make pastries n’ shit. What I’ve learned is that it’s mostly all about the crust. A good crust is what makes or breaks pastries. Coincidentally, blueberries were on sale at Safeway recently: 6 oz package for a dollar. I bought a package and made some el cheapo blueberry tarts for my first-ever attempt at pastry making. While they didn’t exactly come out bad (edible, at least), they weren’t great by any measure. You can learn a lot by making mistakes.

Here’s take two: a very simple tart put together by a novice at the craft. A tart shell filled with a sweet creamy pudding, topped with fresh fruit.

Ingredients

Ingredients

A couple of ingredients weren't able to make it into the picture due to... extenuating circumstances. See below for full disclosure.

Crust:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg yolk
~4 tbsp cold (ice) water
6 tbsp cold butter*

Filling:

1 cup skim milk
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour OR 1 1/2 tbsp corn starch
2 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp dulce de leche**

fresh banana, diced***

YOU WILL ALSO NEED: Some kind of mold (muffin/cupcake mold is fine), parchment paper or aluminum foil, a rolling pin OR rolling pin substitute some beans/rice/coins

*It’s very important that the butter and water both be cold. Pastry experts even recommend running your hands under cold water so that your fingers do not melt the butter. Do not, under any circumstances, attempt to substitute warm water and butter.
**Leftovers from a previous entry. Replace with 3 tbsp of sugar if you don’t have any.
***Bananas oxidize (turn brown) after a while, so don’t dice these immediately. If you’re not prepared to spray lemon juice all over your bananas, it’s best to simply dice them just before serving.

Operating Procedure

Let’s begin with the pastry crust. Measure out your flour into a container. Add salt and sugar. Add cold butter. You may wish to cut the cold butter into cubes beforehand; if not, take a knife and cut it into pieces. in the container. Now, either with a fork or a food processor, begin breaking the butter into smaller pieces and incorporating it into the flour. I recommend using a fork so that your fingers do not melt the butter. You want to incorporate the butter until the mixture looks somewhat like bread crumbs:

I was going to call these tarts but that might be misconstrued. You know, for your mom. Just kidding.

At some point, if forking is too tedious, you can lightly use your fingertips to work the butter into the flour. Do this gently though. When this is done, crack open an egg and separate out the egg yolk. Deposit the yolk into a bowl. Measure out 4 tbsp of ice water into that bowl and whisk to combine. Now, slowly pour the yolk water mixture into your flour mixture. Do not add all of the mixture!!! You only need enough to bring all of the flour together into a ball. I find that in most cases you’ll still have about half a tablespoon of extra liquid left.

Do you, pastry crust, take this pudding to be your filling? I dough.

Refrigerate the dough for an hour. Onto the filling. Melt 1 tbsp of butter in a small pot at medium heat. Dump your 3 tbsp of flour or 1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch into the butter and mix completely. Slowly add the milk one tablespoon at a time while stirring until you have smoothly incorporated one-half cup of milk. Then slowly add the second half-cup of milk, and finally the last half-cup of coconut milk. Add all of the sugar at this point (2 or 5 tablespoons, depending on if you have dulce de leche). Stir the mixture continuously as it cooks to prevent the bottom layer from solidifying. Cook for roughly 15 minutes.

Technically you can make the pudding without butter at all, but this method ensures that you do not get lumps. If you prefer not to use butter, you can use the method entailed above by stirring in only milk, but you will need to strain the mixture in the end to remove lumps.

Shiny white liquids have a habit of making it into my blogs.

The pudding may look a little thin when it is hot, but it will thicken as it cools. Take the finished pudding off the heat, while stirring continuously. You can quicken the cooling process by submerging the bottom half of your pot into a shallow pan filled with cool water. This will let you cool the pudding without having a layer of film develop on the pudding surface. Incorporate the dulce de leche at this point. Once the pudding has stopped steaming, cover and refrigerate.

Pudding

Dulce de leche mixed in. You should try a spoonful at this point, it tastes pretty good.

Once your pastry dough has cooled for an hour, you can start working with it again. Take it out and cut the dough in half. Then cut each half into fifths. Each fifth can be rolled out flat to make a tart shell. Refrigerate the pieces that you won’t use, they’ll keep for a few days.

Take out your tart/cupcake mold and lightly butter the molds. Lightly flour your work surface. Roll each piece of dough out to roughly 3/16 inches or 1/2 cm thick. Use a circular cutter or a small bowl/large mug to cut out the circles and fill each buttered mold with the shaped pieces.

Bake

Top secret leaked photo of pastry construction process. The CIA are on their way to your house right now.

Try to be gentle with the dough and prod/press it as little as possible with your finger tips. Once you have the molds filled, whip out some aluminum foil or parchment paper and cut them into squares. Stuff your pastry shells with foil/paper then weigh them down with some non-combustible stuff. There are special ceramic baking weights you can buy for this purpose, but you probably don’t have those if you’re reading this. I used rice, you can use beans. You can even use spare change, although that is a rather dirty option, and the heat conductivity of the metal may adversely affect your dough.

The only thing I don't like about aluminum and rice pastries is that the aluminum tends to stick in the teeth.

Refrigerate the whole weighted contraption for 15-20 minutes. Pre-heat your oven to 400F/200C. As soon as the oven has hit your temperature, transfer weighted mold from refrigerator directly to oven. Bake for about seven minutes. Remove the mold from the oven, take the weights out, then bake for about three more minutes. Remove mold from the oven for the second time and let it cool.

Once cooled, remove pastry shells from the molds.

Speaking of stuffing pie holes...

Fill each pastry shell close to the brim with your chilled pudding, then top with bananas. Serve immediately.

The Result

Tart

I've recently noticed that people like to photograph certain foods at a slant because they think it looks more stylish. It takes too much work though, having to tilt the whole house sideways, glue the plate to the table, and then having to glue the food to the plate.

4.4 / 5 Hrmm? I’ve overcome all of the flaws of my first attempt at tart making. The crust is thinner, the pudding is sweeter and has a full flavor. It’s pretty good as a tart, and my room mate has told me as much. The problem (to me) seems to be that the type of crust isn’t quite correct for this type of tart. I shall experiment further in the future. Meanwhile, I am satisfied with this creation considering how many different variations of pastry crusts exist in this world. Mission accomplished, in a sense that is somewhere between George Bush’s definition of these words and everyone else’s definition.

Conclusion

It is time to say goodbye once again. Pastry making is the beginning of a long and promising adventure for me. As for the recipe, you can really take it apart and use the crust and the pudding separately for your own creations. The pudding is great as a stand-alone dish. And the shells, well, there are many ways to stuff a pie hole.

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