The most important birthday, and a cake. The shortbread pastry is light and crumbly, with a wonderful vanilla and lemon flavor. The custard is silky and smooth, just enough sweet and zesty, superb pillow for the fresh fruit artistically arranged on top. A superb, different birthday cake.
The most important birthday is not mine. I've never liked to be the center of attention, no spotlights for me, please. I get really shy, and goofy, when handed presents, asked to talk in front of people, even blow candles on the birthday cake makes me bashful. That's why, as soon as I got my life in my hands I opted to celebrate my birthdays traveling, flying away, and taking it all in, the experiences of a different culture.
But I've always loved showing my love for the most important people in my life with presents, parties, surprises, and cakes. My husband is the love of my life. There is nothing I wouldn't do for him. The moment I felt his arms around me in a hug I will never forget, everything around me became a dull background buzz and all I could hear was the beat of my heart. In that instant, I knew I had found my safe harbour, my blue sky, my perfect other half. And since that day, year after year, wherever I was, I've always made it possible to come back to Canada to celebrate his birthday together. That has been one of my gifts to him, together with some other material presents, a wonderful dinner and, of course, a cake. He's a traveler, too, so for a few years we've honored his day abroad, but not this year, I've just come back to Canada, we need some quiet time at home. There's going to be a dinner out in one of the restaurants that are on our "must" list and there's going to be this cake. The cake I baked and decorated for him. With all my love.
You all know by now that I'm not a layered, frosted, iced cake kinda girl. I mean, I love seeing them and I am fascinated by the work of art that they are, but they're not my work of art. They don't reflect my personality, that's all. So, instead of a cake, I turned to bake a Crostata di frutta con crema al limone, or otherwise called, Fresh Fruit Tart with Lemon Custard. Cheerful, colorful, delicately scented, perfectly balanced between tangy and sweet. Like our life together.
The pastafrolla, the shortbread pastry, is light and crumbly, with a wonderful vanilla and lemon flavor. The custard is silky and smooth, just enough sweet and zesty, superb pillow for the fresh fruit. The fruit, a choice of Loreto's favorites: blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, kiwis, and honey clementines. An ode to spring and to my love.
Making this birthday cake:
The good thing with this tart is you can prepare the dough or the custard up to a couple days prior and refrigerate it, then assemble it the day you want to serve it. I did everything the same day: I started by making the shortbread pastry, let it sit in the refrigerator for half an hour, while in the meantime making the lemon custard. Once the crust was baked and cooled I filled it with the custard (that was cooled by then) and top it with the fresh fruit. Then, popped it in the fridge before enjoying it. As easy as that.
A tip on the shortbread pastry: it is very delicate and friable and it might tear when rolling it thin, so my suggestion is to roll it on a floured work surface just a tiny bit and finish flatten it directly in the buttered and floured tart pan helping with your hands.
The other good thing about a fruit tart is you can use seasonal fresh fruit and modify it according to taste and what's available. The result is going to be amazing anyway.
Now you will excuse me, I got to go, I have a birthday to celebrate.
Happy birthday my love, this cake is for you.
Song of the day: "I Wanna Be A Rockstar" by Nickelback. (You are already a rockstar, amore mio).Print
Pastafrolla (Shortbread pastry)
- 250 g organic, unbleached all purpose flour
- 100 g sugar
- 140 g butter
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 lemon, the zest
- pinch of salt
- 1 tsp vanilla
Crema al limone (Lemon Custard)
- 3 egg yolks
- 3 Tbsp sugar
- 3 Tbsp organic, unbleached all purpose flour
- 3 glasses milk (about 400 ml)
- the rind of ½ of an organic lemon
- honey clementine
- Preheat the oven to 350° F (180°C).
For the Shortbread pastry:
- On a work surface place the flour making a hole in the middle and add the sugar, salt, butter flakes, egg yolks, lemon zest and vanilla.
- Mix the ingredients quickly working the dough with your fingertips. Do not overwork so as not to warm the butter, but just until it comes together.
- Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for half an hour.
For the Lemon Custard:
- Heat the milk in a saucepan over low to medium with the lemon rind; beat the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl, then add the flour. Pour the heated milk mixture slowly, mixing with a whisk. Put back the mixture on the stove and stir constantly until the custard has thickened.
- Transfer the custard to a bowl and let it cool with a plastic wrap on top to keep it from drying out.
- Grease a 23 cm tart pan with butter and flour. Press the dough to the bottom of the pan with your hand (palm or fingers). Sprinkle the top with a little bit of flour if the dough sticks to your hand. Make it as flat as possible. Work with your thumb around the edge to make it even, removing any extra dough. Prick the dough with a fork.
- Bake the crust in the oven for about 25 minutes, until slightly golden on the edges.
- Let the crust cool down completely.
- Pour the cream on the crust and, with the help of a spoon, spread it around evenly.
- Now the fun part! I started from the center working my way to the edge. Blackberries in the middle, around them the raspberries, then I cut the strawberries in half and placed them in 2 large circles pointing out. Arranged a circle of clementine slices, then finished with the kiwi cut in half and arranged at the very far edge.
- Prep Time: 1 hour
- Cook Time: 35 minutes
- Serving Size: 1 23cm tart pan
I love baking and kneading dough because it takes me to a happy place in my soul.