Welcome to Mise en Place, a column which takes its cue from the French tradition that literally translates to “everything in it’s place.” More than just the culinary process of prepping and assembling ingredients beforehand, Mise en Place is a state of mind. A philosophy of cooking, that will equip you will all the tips, tricks and hacks you need to embrace and elevate your inner chef. With this edition, Isha Shetty of Vanilla Miel is sharing tips and tricks for baking professional tarts.
Learning to bake the perfect tart is a rite of passage for every baker, be it as a passion or as a professional endeavour. When you get down to it, it’s the details that make all the difference, from using cold butter cubes for the tart dough, to blind-baking the tart shells with beans or rice. The process can be a tad intimidating, so who better to guide us through it than Isha Shetty, pastry chef extraordinaire behind Vanilla Miel, Mumbai’s most sought-after patisserie for hand-painted cakes and intricately-assembled tarts.
Tips For Baking Tarts
Mix it right
Try and use a stand mixer to make your tart dough, as hand making the dough allows the heat from your hand to melt the fats in the dough to make it oily. Use cold butter cubes (about 3cm x 3cm) when making the dough – NEVER use melted butter.
Rest Out the Dough
Always mix your dough only until uniform. Avoid over-mixing the dough as it stretches the gluten in the flour to develop elastic strands, which causes a gummy texture. Furthermore, once the dough is ready, flatten, contact-cling wrap and store in the fridge overnight to allow the gluten to relax and have a superior tart shell with lesser shrinkage. Remove from the fridge 40 minutes before you need to use it.
There are multiple ways to blind bake tarts. Many choose to line tarts with paper, dump rice in the tart shell and then bake – this is great for when you want to later finish the tart with a relatively liquid filling. Pro tip: when doing production of larger batches we find it easier to simply line the tart and fork the base with a super sharp and fine knife so the air has place to escape but the holes at the bottom are fine enough that if the first layer is viscous enough – there won’t be leakage.
To get clean edges, trim the edges of the tarts with a sharp knife when the tart has been lined and the dough is still cold. That ensures that extra finishing for a clean tart. Once the tart has been blind-baked, up-turn the tart shell on a drum sift and move it around gently but firmly around to even out any stray edges
Sometimes we like to fill in tart shells with fillings that contain more water content than the traditional dark chocolate ganache and this free water eventually makes it’s way from the filling into the tart shell to make it super soggy. While this is inevitable, you can delay this process by protecting your tart shell with a protective layer. An egg wash has been the traditional way to do this, but with more plant-based diets becoming the norm – you can sieve cocoa butter powder onto the tart shell when hot; or once cooled, brush on a layer of tempered chocolate onto the insides of the shell.
Enjoyed These Tips For Baking Tarts?
Now, get set to bake Vanilla Miel’s Classic Hazelnut Chocolate Ganache Tart!
About Vanilla Miel
Taking inspiration from the simple elegance of vanilla and honey, Vanilla Miel is one of India’s only artisanal and art-inspired patisseries.
At the helm are the talented sister duo Mansi and Isha Shetty – a former corporate lawyer and qualified Le Cordon Bleu-trained pastry chef respectively. Their vision for Vanilla Miel is a sanctuary where their passions of art and pastry are combined. Their gourmet petit gateaux, entremets and tarts have anywhere between 3 to 6 layers each, with every single layer channeling a varying flavour and yet coming together beautifully once eaten, into a transporting experience. Follow them @Vanilla_Miel.
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