This really is a dreamy dessert – sweet, creamy and meltingly unctuous, and the pristine white surface makes the perfect canvas for artistic decoration. The panna cotta can, of course, be made without the encasing pastry but doing so would mean losing the welcoming crunch.
There will be a little of the panna cotta mix left over, which if set into a separate glass will provide a perfect gluten-free alternative dessert, should one be needed.
FOR THE PASTRY
MAKES 1 QUANTITY
230g (8oz/1¾ cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
125g (4½oz/½ cup plus 1 tablespoon) cold
unsalted butter, cut into 1cm (½in) cubes, no need to be precise
50g (1¾oz/heaping ¹⁄³ cup ) icing (powdered) sugar
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons milk
For egg wash – if and when the recipe calls for it
1 egg yolk
Place the flour and butter into the bowl of a freestanding mixer and attach the paddle beater. Mix on a medium speed until the butter has been incorporated into the flour and resembles fine breadcrumbs
Add the icing (powdered) sugar and mix for a few seconds before adding the eggyolk and milk
Continue to mix until a cohesive dough forms, this should only take 30–60 seconds, depending on your mixer. Turn out the pastry onto a work surface – there’s no need for more flour – and bring it swiftly together with your hands, without overworking it
Let of cling film and place the dough on one half. Flatten the pastry with the palms of your hands,
then fold the remaining cling film over the top, fully encasing the dough. Roll out swiftly between the cling film
to an approximate depth of 5mm (¼in), trying your best to keep it in a circular shape. Place in the fridge for at least an
hour before using.
After resting, roll out between two sheets of non-stick baking paper – there’s no need for more flour – and use according to the relevant recipe instructions.
FOR THE TART
using a fluted, loose-bottomed 23 x
3.5cm (9 x 1½in) circular tin
1 quantity Sweet Shortcrust pastry
150ml (5fl oz/²⁄³ cup) milk
4 chamomile tea bags
4 sheets gelatine (I use Dr Oetker)
800ml (26fl oz/3¼ cups plus 1 tablespoon) double (heavy) cream
200g (7oz/1 cup) caster (superfine) sugar
FOR THE TOPPING
a selection of prepared fresh fruits
baked pastry shapes
edible flowers and herbs
Make and rest the pastry following the recipe on page 12, then line, blind bake and trim a pastry case, using the tips and techniques on page 38. Any leftover pastry can be cut into decorative shapes, egg-washed and baked separately to be used as extra decoration.
For the panna cotta, add the milk and tea bags to a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, switch off the
heat and allow the tea to infuse for 15 minutes. Remove the tea bags, giving them a good squeeze before discarding.
Soften the gelatine by soaking the sheets in a bowl of cold water. Add the cream and sugar to the pan of infused milk. Slowly bring the mixture to the boil, stirring now and then to dissolve the sugar. As soon as boiling point is reached, turn off the heat.
Drain the softened gelatine and pat dry with kitchen paper before stirring into the hot cream. When the gelatine
has fully dissolved, pass the mixture through a fine sieve into a clean bowl and allow to cool. Once cooled, place in the fridge, checking and stirring every so often until the panna cotta starts to thicken. The ideal pouring consistency required is that of thick custard.
Once thickened, carefully pour into the prepared pastry case. Any bubbles that rise to the surface can easily be popped
by running the flame of a blow torch over the surface, however this isn’t a necessity, it’s purely for aesthetics.
Place back in the fridge until fully set – this should take around 4 hours.
Decorate the tart with a variety of fruits, baked pastry shapes, petals, edible flowers, sprinkles and herbs.
When ready to serve, use a hot dry knife to slice the tart perfectly, wiping the knife between slicing. Serve with an extra portion of fruit macerated with a sprinkling of caster (superfine) sugar and a splash of booze, if you like.
This recipe is from The Pastry School by Julie Jones.