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Tart Disaster

I had a tart disaster recently; perhaps the community can help me figure out what went wrong.
It was a raspberry tart from Patricia Wells' Bistro Cookbook. The crust was one I've successfully made before - her pâte sablée (flour, butter, egg, confectioner's sugar) that was pre-baked in a 10=inch black tart pan with a removable bottom. A custard was 3 egg yolks, 3/4 c cream, and 3 tbs of sugar.

Procedure: Bake the crust. Add the custard when it cooled, place the berries on top and bake til the custard sets.

However, the crust erupted under the custard. And the custard never set (following directed times).

One mistake I made was that the crust was overbaked. But why should it balloon up like that it was a giant brown bubble. And why didn't the custard set. What went wrong? Any thoughts would be appreciated.

asked by DebJ 6 months ago
12 answers 782 views
D640141f 822f 4a52 856d b12de6fadb9f  dinner
added 6 months ago

Here's a picture of the tart disaster. That brown area left of center is the crust erupting.

Bfdfdfac 5b6e 40f6 8110 a2b20ddf911c  tart failure

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar
added 6 months ago

I am not sure why the custard did not set. I think the crust problem is due to the water from the butter not being able to escape properly causing the eruption. Did you dock the crust when you pre-baked the crust?

I don't cook many custards but I don't see any starch to help set the custard. I think every custard I have made had some form of starch. Maybe a more experienced baker can chime in.

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar
added 6 months ago

I am not sure why the custard did not set. I think the crust problem is due to the water from the butter not being able to escape properly causing the eruption. Did you dock the crust when you pre-baked the crust?

I don't cook many custards but I don't see any starch to help set the custard. I think every custard I have made had some form of starch. Maybe a more experienced baker can chime in.

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar
added 6 months ago

I am not sure why the custard did not set. I think the crust problem is due to the water from the butter not being able to escape properly causing the eruption. Did you dock the crust when you pre-baked the crust?

I don't cook many custards but I don't see any starch to help set the custard. I think every custard I have made had some form of starch. Maybe a more experienced baker can chime in.

E8512bc9 94d4 43cf 93a2 2936f86adfc5  img 0190
added 6 months ago

I'm sorry that happened to you!
I agree, docking the crust would have been my first thought too.
Regarding the custard: They are temperamental. Did it not set at all (It's hard to tell by the pic, but it looks like it started to set a little bit.)? And did you make that before as well?
Given you've measured everything correctly, it still should have set, regardless of cornstarch or not (although I agree, it would def. help to set up). Out of my experience, those baking times are really just rough guides. I have a crappy oven and everything takes way longer. Also, did you let the custard cool long enough to let it set more?

D640141f 822f 4a52 856d b12de6fadb9f  dinner
added 6 months ago

Thanks for the responses. 1) Yes, I docked the crust - maybe not enough?? 2) The recipe for the custard (and I maybe mis-labeling it) didn't call for flour, just granulated sugar, cream and eggs. 3) The recipe called for baking the cream and berry filled tart for about 15 minutes until the "cream filling begins to set."

I am going to try this recipe again and will post the results.

Thanks again.

E8512bc9 94d4 43cf 93a2 2936f86adfc5  img 0190
added 6 months ago

Out of curiosity: What's the baking temperature for the custard? 15 min seems quite short except it's a quite high temp.
Generally speaking, I wouldn't bake a custard on a high temp. but rather increase the baking time until it's still jiggly but not liquid anymore. Also, you can still add a TS or so of cornstarch.
Good luck!

4798a9c2 4c90 45e5 a5be 81bcb1f69c5c  junechamp
ChefJune

June is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added 6 months ago

Did you cook the custard before you put it into the tart shell?

1097a5b5 1775 4eec a8ea 7421137b65dc  image 2 apples claire sullivan 2
amysarah

amysarah is a trusted home cook.

added 6 months ago

I'm surprised (though intrigued) - Patricia Wells, especially Bistro, has been a standard for me for over 20 yrs - usually very reliable. I haven't made this tart, but her pate sablee is my go-to, both for her lemon tart (simplest and best!) and even other books' chocolate tarts...all I can think is maybe it was under-docked. When you pre-baked, did you remove the weights/foil and put it back in the oven for a few minutes - wondering if the over browned edges made you shorten that step? (If you have a second tart pan with a removable bottom, use its inverted ring to protect the edges - if not, foil, of course.)

I haven't made this tart, but have made her apple cream tart many times, which uses the same custard. No flour or cornstarch, and not precooked - sets well in the oven. Did you use large eggs? If not, the proportion of cream/yolks could be off...or oven too low, or ingredients ice cold? Again, stumped! (So helpful, right?)

But her recipes are very well tested - I'd try again without tampering or adding anything. Sometimes the gods of baking simply aren't with me...maybe this was just one of those inexplicable moments. Let us know how it goes, pls!

D640141f 822f 4a52 856d b12de6fadb9f  dinner
added 6 months ago

Some additional answers for ChefJune, amysarah, fraeuleink: 1) no , the custard/cream was not cooked in advance; 2) temp was 375 for baking; 3) did use extra large eggs instead of the large as directed (that was what I had in house ;-( ); 4) I think I under docked then overbaked the crust to start.

Yes, Patricia Wells' cookbooks are my go-to's and I have never had a failure. I am going to try this tart again and will post results. Thank you all for your comments and suggestions.

1097a5b5 1775 4eec a8ea 7421137b65dc  image 2 apples claire sullivan 2
amysarah

amysarah is a trusted home cook.

added 6 months ago

I don't think extra large yolks instead of large are the reason for not setting - if you'd used medium, possibly the ratio to cream might have been too low...even then, odd that it didn't set at all.

Hmm...besides under docking the pastry, I'm leaning towards the unknowable fluke category on this one. Fingers crossed for a successful take 2!

D640141f 822f 4a52 856d b12de6fadb9f  dinner
added 6 months ago

Success! Thanks to your responses, my raspberry tart worked. Two changes: pricked the unbaked crust a LOT and extended the baking time for the custard set. And the tart is delicious!! So thanks to Ben McCulloch, fraeuleink, amysarah, ChefJune and everyone.

E69b8988 56b4 4c11 8ca0 642c3dafe316  tart success