Vanilla Brûlée Tarts with Strawberry Purée from Bourke Street Bakery, Sydney

4th attempt at the crème brûlée tart: the best one

This is so good! Gobsmackingly good! Everything about this vanilla brûlée tart is perfect; from that first ‘crack’ of the caramelised sugar on top to that creamy but firm classic brûlée then to the luscious flow of strawberry purée, finished off in a crisp and flaky pâte brisée (sweet shortcrust pastry) casing. The first time I tasted this was in April in Sydney, during the Easter long weekend when I absolutely fell in love with the very rustic and charming Bourke Street Bakery. At that time, I already had in my cookbook collection, the Bourke Street Bakery ‘The Ultimate Baking Companion’ book which I bought in Christmas 2009, oblivious to the fact that this jewel of a bakery is located in Sydney (yep, I am guilty as charged, I bought the book not because I heard of them but I was drawn to the the book cover!). I highly recommend this book for all enthusiastic bakers. I love it and everything they make at the bakery and the long queue of people waiting for their chocolate croissants or pork and fennel sausage rolls attest to how good they are.

This is my 4th attempt at the Vanilla Brûlée tarts and I’ve been waiting a long time to blog about this. The first time, I converted it into a large flan tart for my cousin’s birthday, which turned out too wobbly and I suspect not as smooth as it should be because I took my eyes and hands off the custard for 2 seconds. The second attempt was for an afternoon tea party of which I was unable to complete them i.e. not enough time to burn the sugar on top and my pastry was a disaster. The 3rd time I still didn’t learn and rushed through the pastry process so it shrank again. So three times, my efforts were not worthy of a blog posting until today; I made sure I gave the pastry all the attention and TLC in the world. As strawberries are not in season, I puréed frozen raspberries instead but this is a minor variation and it still tasted great! Refreshing in a way.

This is a very tricky recipe. There are only a few ingredients but it certainly requires technique and patience; especially with the crème brûlée custard and the pastry. I struggled with the latter so much so I had to re-do it several times. Preparation to serving time takes 2 days for best results, so allow plenty of time to complete the task; lots of chilling time required. But trust me, the hard work is definitely worth it. It’s absolutely heavenly!

 

Vanilla Brûlée Tarts with Strawberry Purée
(adapted from Bourke Street Bakery ‘The Ultimate Baking Companion’)
makes 20

ingredients

strawberry purée
250 g 9(oz/1 2/3 cups) strawberries, washed and hulled
120g (4 1/4 oz) caster (superfine) sugar

crème brûlée
720 ml (25 fl oz) pouring (whipping) cream (35% fat)
1 vanilla bean, split lengthways
10 egg yolks
80 g (2 3/4 oz/1/3 cup) caster (superfine) sugar, plus plenty for burning
1 quantity sweet shortcrust pastry (see previous entry on pâte brisée )

method

  1. To make the strawberry purée, put the strawberries and sugar in a food processor and process until smooth. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic and refrigerate until needed.
  2. To make the crème brûlée custard, put the cream into a saucepan, scrape the seeds of a vanilla bean into the cream and add the bean. Bring to the boil over high heat. As soon as it boils, remove from the heat and set aside for about 10 minutes.
  3. Place the egg yolks in a stainless steel bowl and use a whisk to combine. Add the sugar and continue whisking for about 30 seconds, or until the sugar has dissolved.
  4. Pour the slightly cooled cream through a fine sieve, discarding the vanilla bean, then pour the cream into the egg yolk mixture, stirring well to combine.
  5. Put the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure the base of the bowl does not touch the water, and continue stirring with a whisk for about 10-15 minutes, or until the mixture is smooth and thick, scraping down the sides of the bowl regularly with a rubber spatula. It is important to keep stirring at all times or the mixture will curdle.
  6. Remove the bowl from the heat and whisk briskly for about 2 minutes to cool it quickly. Over the next 1 hour, whisk the mixture every 10 minutes until cooled.
  7. Use a rubber spatula to clean the sides of the bowl thoroughly and place plastic wrap directly on top of the mixture; refrigerate overnight to set.
  8. Follow the instructions ( from pâte brisée) to roll out the pastry and use it to line twenty 8cm (3 1/4 inch) round fluted loose-based tart tins. Set the pastry cases in the freezer for at least 20 minutes.
  9. Blind bake the tart cases in a preheated 200oC (400oF/Gas 6) oven for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.
  10. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
  11. To assemble tarts, spoon about 3/4 teaspoon of strawberry purée in the centre of the base of each tart shell. Pipe custard into the tart shells with a piping (icing) bag fitted with a plain nozzle – you should just slightly overfill the filling in each one.
  12. With a small palette knife, scrape the custard to be flush with the top of the tart shell. Place in the refrigerator for 4 hours.
  13. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon caster sugar onto the top of the custard and burn with a blowtorch until it caramelises. If you don’t have a blowtorch the tarts are still very tasty without the extra sugar and burning.

Note:

  • I usually placed my completed tarts ( burnt sugar and all) in the fridge to further set. These are best eaten on the same day and the burnt sugar will remain crispy the next day. But any more than that and the sugar loses its crunchiness, meaning, you won’t feel a crunch or ‘crack’ when you bite into the tart. Still yummy tough.
  • I think 250g strawberries are too much for the puree but you can reserve them for a cocktail of champagne and strawberry puree or any other fizzy drink for a refreshing thirst-quencher.


Love at first bite: my very first vanilla crème brûlée tart at Bourke Street Bakery 

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13 comments to Vanilla Brûlée Tarts with Strawberry Purée from Bourke Street Bakery, Sydney

  • shirls

    i want some, sze.. it looks absolutely divine!

  • Emily

    Thank you for sharing your post! Will try make these today.

  • Sephiria

    Thank you so much for sharing this! I tried these at the Bourke St Bakery the other day and absolutely fell in love with the treat.

    I tried making them but my custard didn’t seem to be quite runny. I’d be grateful if you could tell me what I did wrong??

  • Mei Sze

    Dear Sephiria,

    Absolutely delicious tarts. In relation to your question, the custard should not be runny, neither should it curdle or split (where you can see tiny lumps forming which leaves a gritty texture in the mouth). It should be smooth and slightly thickened, such that when you lift the whisk away from the mixture when it’s done, it should leave a faint trail on the surface. With the given recipe of 10 egg yolks, I will usually whisk the egg,sugar and cream mixture over the water bath, continuously for 15 minutes. Between 5-10 minutes, you will see the egg mixture change from liquid to frothy (bubbly) and then it settles as it cooks, into a thicker smooth consistency. Always remember to stir continuously for that whole duration of 10-15 minutes. These times might vary if you’ve halved the recipe but its usually a case of following your instinct. The other important thing is that your water in the pot must be a small simmer, not boiling, as too high a heat can overcook the custard thus causing it to split. Again, the custard should not be runny; and when you subsequently cool it down and chill it overnight, it will set quite firmly and then you can pipe or fill it into the baked tart shells.

    It is a different story if you want to make the creme brulee the classic method which is bake it in ramekins in the oven. In this case, there is no need to cook the custard over the water bath. After mixing the slightly cooled cream into the egg mixture, you can pour the custard (in which case it will be a liquid i.e.runny) into ramekins until full. As per the book, place the ramekins in a deep baking tray and pour in enough water to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins (essentially you’re cooking the creme brulee in a water bath). Cook in a 140C preheated oven for 45 minutes or until just set. Remove from the oven, allow to cool, then place in fridge for AT LEAST 4 hours. Proceed with the sprinkling of sugar and caramelising it with a blow torch…
    Hope that helps. Do try it again. I too had a massive problem with the custard the first time..exactly the same recipe but it worked the next 2 – 3 times…

  • Sephiria

    Hi Mei Sze,

    Thanks so much for taking the time to reply and giving me such wonderfully thorough advice! I halved the recipe and I think I didn’t cook it over the water bath for long enough. =( I will definitely try this again some time soon! Thanks again for the recipe! =)

  • I love these, I drive Two hours to sydney to buy 6 at a time, I love their lemon curd tarts also,the other day I had the lamb roll with peanuts in it I think, instead of my usual vego one that has chick peas in it, like a sausage roll but not that average.The line is always out the door so is the delicious bakehouse smell, but service is quick, coffee is strong and plenty of out door seating and nearby park makes it a perfect place to eat.My kids always say mum are we going to Bourke street for your coffee, not noticing the tarts I slip in the boot.oohh and I will make these I have been looking for the recipe, no wonder the brulee is soo yellow with 10 egg yolks..yum

  • Mei Sze

    Hi again Levi,

    Isn’t it a great bakery or what!! I absolutely love it and would visit it often if it isn’t for that fact that I live in Melbourne. Although we try to fly to Sydney annually so B/S Bakery would be a definite stop. On my first visit there I went completely nuts! In one sitting alone, my hubby and I devoured the strawberry creme brulee tart, the ginger brulee tarts, the lamb, almond and harrisa roll,some beef pie, a pan au chocolate..now that was in the morning..we came back the next day and had the carrot cake, more pies, more brulee tarts, chocolate mousse and raspberry tarts..Coffee there is good as well…love it all!

  • levi oconnor

    well i tried the recipe , but with store bought pastry cases, but i boiled the cream and egg mixture too high and it split, I wont be using it, but since I have chickens in my backyard, i have lots of eggs, so will just need to buy a cow now..lol..will let you know in a couple of days how the next batch comes out..do you have the recipe for the a pan au chocolate tart mix.funny ,I am a choco-holic but have been leaning to custard and lemon deserts recently..you are a gem and I love to read everything you write, keep up the good work, you have a dream job..mmmm

  • Mei Sze

    Hi Levi,

    Thank you for your comment :) I’m glad you enjoy reading my entries (sometimes I tend to ramble on). Hope your tarts turned out well with the second attempt. I do have the pan au chocolat recipe which is based on the croissant recipe. I attempted croissants and pan au chocolate using a different recipe but have yet to post it because I overproofed the dough, they looked blistered but still delicious. I’ll let you know once I get round to doing that. Or unless you urgently want the recipe and I’ll email it to you. The BSB recipe is as per usual, very lengthy. :)

    Regards,
    Mei Sze
    Mei Sze

  • […] I don’t have their official recipe (but wouldn’t mind getting my hands on their cookbook-hint hint), just a variation that I got from here http://www.foodsze.com/2010/06/vanilla-brulee-tarts-with-strawberry-puree-from-bourke-street-bakery-… […]

  • Hi!
    These look hard work but worthing it!
    A friend of mine fell in love with them when he was in Australia and I would like to make some for him. But, do you think I could make a big batch that he could freeze? Do you know if we can freeze them without the “brûlée” part?
    Thanks for your help!

  • Mei Sze

    Hi Cindy,

    Indeed they’re lovely! I haven’t tried freezing them before but I think you can. Just make the tarts without blow-torching then freeze them. When you’re ready to consume, you can thaw them in the fridge for a day then brulee them just before serving.I’ve frozen lemon meringue tartlets before (made with italian meringue) and let them thaw before blow-torching them to serve. It works! :)

  • I made them friday and they are delicious!!!!! A batch is in the freezer now. I’ll wait til next week to try a couple and see how they are.