Tarts Deconstructed

Today was all about tarts. And tarts kicked our butts from one end of the kitchen to the other. Everyone in class experienced at least one challenge with making the dough, the filling, or baking/oven temp.

We were each given a recipe for a large tart, and then asked to make six or more mini tarts. Our large recipe involved poaching pears in red and white wine.

Chef asked us to make pate sucree. Easy enough, but multiplied x4, and left it up to us to figure it all out. With no instructions, some teams made four individual recipes. We decided to make 2 double recipes since x4 wouldn’t fit into our standing mixer.

Before the dough, we had to make pastry cream for the mini tarts, and get that into the fridge as soon as possible to chill. I had never made pastry cream before and always pictured it to be some terribly long, complicated process. Just the opposite. It was the easiest thing we made all day, and it was so perfect, chef used it for demonstration. I was feeling impressed until Chef explained that we had basically made vanilla pudding. Vanilla pudding doesn’t sound as special as pastry cream, but it still tasted just as delicious. And R entertained us with an amazing impression of Bill Cosby’s Jello Pudding commercials. All. Night. Long. Yeah, we were all feeling kind of punchy tonight.

Next, pate sucree and poached pears. The first challenge we faced was lack of electricity. Chef asked us to use a burner at our station instead of the stove, and we only had one outlet per work station. Instead of being able to poach pears and make our dough at the same time, we had to make a decision on which was going to happen first; both had to be chilled for quite some time. Chef asked us to start poaching first. Hindsight, we should have started the dough first.

After almost two hours in the fridge, our dough still wasn’t cold enough. We tried to roll it out anyhow and, well, now I know what happens when you try to roll out pate sucree if it’s not chilled properly. We reshaped the dough and put it into the freezer, which saved us.

I’m slowly starting to learn the quirks of our school kitchen. I now know where the best spot in the freezer is, and the best spot in the oven for high, even temperatures.

Despite our concerns of possibly overworking the dough, our tarts blind baked perfectly, and the class was invited to decorate our mini tarts with fresh berries and apricot glaze. And the pear tart we made was worthy of an editorial spread in Martha Stewart Magazine (if I hadn’t cut the pears the wrong way).

I was still hung up on the Jello Pudding thing though. I couldn’t get it out of my head. A tart, always seemed out of reach for me – something I might only find in the finest bakeries, just like the ones I would buy from the patisseries when I lived in Belgium. And tonight, I learned it’s simply a big cookie with vanilla pudding or similar custard, and sometimes nuts, glazed or poached fruits.

I think that’s kind of neat. Something so simple can be so elegant.

This was by far our most challenging class. Chef said next week we’re going to take it easy with cookies, and will bake cakes to decorate the following week.

Browse Culinary Arts Schools & Colleges

Refine School Matches
Hide filters

    See More


    See More



    Please enter valid US or Canada Zip.
            Results open in new window

            Searching Searching ...

            Matching School Ads
            5 Program(s) Found
            • Alumni have appeared in reality competition shows such as Top Chef and Project Runway.
            • Has a team of about 4,000 faculty members focused on helping students tap opportunities in a marketplace driven by ideas.
            • Offers programs in design, media arts, fashion, and culinary.
            • Provides program coordinators who work with students to ensure they have the learning materials, assignments, facilities, and faculty to get the most out of the program.
            • Over 50 campus locations nationwide.
            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            1 Program(s) Found

            Baker College is the largest independent college in Michigan with the most focused approach to education and training available. Our mission is to prepare you for meaningful employment.

            1 Program(s) Found
            • Ranked among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
            • Lets undergrad students try classes before paying any tuition.
            • Has an average class sizes of 18 for undergraduate and 13 for graduate-level courses.
            • Offers numerous scholarship opportunities that can help students save up to $750 per term on their tuition.
            • Tends to educate degree-seeking online and campus-based students who are adult learners with families and students who work while pursuing higher education.
            Show more [+]
            Good for Working Adults
            • Online Courses
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            5 Program(s) Found
            • Received the 2015 and 2013 “Cooking School of the Year” Award of Excellence from the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP).
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
            • Externship opportunities are available at numerous famous New York City restaurants.
            • Campus is located near downtown Manhattan, within walking distance of many popular attractions such as the Radio City Music Hall.
            Show more [+]
            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            5 Program(s) Found

            Sullivan University is a private institution of higher learning dedicated to providing educational enrichment opportunities for the intellectual, social and professional development of its students. The institution offers career-focused curricula with increasing rigor from the certificate through diploma, associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree levels. Throughout those curricula, the university seeks to promote the development of critical thinking, effective verbal and written communication, computer literacy, and teamwork as well as an appreciation for life-long learning, cultural diversity and the expression of professionalism in all activities. At the graduate level, the university also seeks to promote a culture of research.

            3 Program(s) Found
            • Each campus features a public restaurant where culinary students work under the direction of professional chefs for real-world experience.
            • Hosts Platt College’s Food Fight, a friendly dessert competition for students held once a month.
            • Offers programs in culinary arts, nursing, and healthcare.
            • Accredited by the American Culinary Federation (AFC) and Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
            • 5 campuses in Lawton, North and Central Oklahoma City, Moore, and Tulsa, Oklahoma.
            Show more [+]
            4 Program(s) Found
            • Hands-on culinary education with focused attention on each student
            • An ACCSC School of Excellence with multiple “Best Vocational Cooking School” awards*
            • 15,000 graduates, including celebrities like Bobby Flay, David Chang, and Christina Tosi*
            • Programs in Culinary Entrepreneurship, Professional Culinary Arts, Professional Pastry Arts, and much more
            • Campuses in New York and Silicon Valley with nearby housing available
            Show more [+]