Bakers Journal

Formula: Almond and Cardamom Rhubarb Tarts

May 16, 2024
By Joanne Yolles

Photo: Joanne Yolles

Seasonal fruit tarts are Joanne Yolles’ favourite things to make and eat! Follow along with this creative, groundbreaking pastry chef as she demonstrates

At the Baking Association of Canada’s recent Bakery Showcase, Chef Yolles demonstrated to an enthusiastic audience techniques for making the different components of a seasonal fruit tart and shows you how to put it all together with a flourish!

Her demonstration touched on how to properly prepare and bake a tart crust, how to manage your time when preparing tarts with several components and how to adapt a recipe for other flavour profiles and to suit the season

“These tarts can be made in various sizes from bite-size to one large tart,” Chef Yolles shares. “The decorative tuile for individual tarts is optional but adds a certain ‘je ne sais quoi.’ ” Some of the components are adapted from other sources, she notes.

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TART PASTRY

175 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
100 g sugar
½ tsp kosher salt
1 egg, at room temperature
1 yolk, at room temperature
325 g all-purpose flour

Cream together the butter, sugar, and salt until smooth and combined. Beat in the egg and the yolk, then mix in the flour, just until combined.

Turn the dough out onto the work surface and using a plastic dough scraper or the palms of your hands, “smear” the dough to mix the ingredients evenly.

Form the dough into a flat disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to fit desired tart molds and chill. Preheat the oven to 325 F and bake the tart shells for 20-25 minutes or just until lightly golden brown.

CARDAMOM PASTRY CREAM

325 g whole milk
12 cardamom pods, crushed
35 g unsalted butter
4 yolks
90 g sugar
20 g cornstarch
15 g all-purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla extract

Combine the milk, cardamom pods and butter in a small saucepan, and bring to a simmer.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until smooth. Combine the cornstarch and flour together, then add to the yolk mixture. Whisk well until smooth.

Gradually pour the warm milk over the egg mixture whisking constantly. Strain the mixture back into the saucepan and place over medium heat. Continue cooking, whisking constantly just until the mixture begins to thicken on the bottom of the pot. Remove from heat and continue whisking until the mixture in thick and thoroughly uniform. Return the pot to medium heat and whisk until the mixture comes to a boil – it should be shiny with no lumps. Remove from heat and pour into a bowl. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly over the surface to prevent a skin from forming, then refrigerate to cool completely. The pastry cream can be made up to 2 days ahead.

ALMOND FILLING

113 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
100 g sugar, at room temperature
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp almond extract
100 g ground almonds
26 g all-purpose flour

In a mixer using the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth and light in colour. Add the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla and almond extracts and mix to combine. On low speed, add the ground almonds and flour and mix just to combine. The almond filling can be refrigerated for up to 2 days, or frozen. Bring to room temperature before using.

TUILE

113 g butter
200 g sugar
120 ml eggs whites (about 4)
140 g all-purpose flour
flavourings – vanilla, orange rind, lemon rind, etc.

Cream butter and sugar until smooth. Add egg whites and mix to combine. Add flavouring then the flour and mix until smooth. Spread batter over template and bake at 325 F until golden. Store the tuile in an airtight container.

TART ASSEMBLY AND BAKING

Fresh “forced rhubarb”, cut into 1/4”-1 ½” pieces, depending on the size of the tarts

Preheat the oven to 325 F. Place a small spoonful of rhubarb or berry jam in the bottom of each pre-baked tart shell. Place the almond filling and pastry cream in a piping bags. Pipe a layer of almond filling over the jam, followed by a layer of the pastry cream. Top with pieces of rhubarb and sprinkle sugar over top. Bake the tarts until the filling has puffed up slightly. (about 25 minutes for smaller tarts.) Cool on a wire rack and top with a tuile before serving.

About the pastry chef

At the age of 12, Joanne Yolles made her first coffee cake and from that moment she fell in love with baking. Her outstanding career as a professional pastry chef began to take shape almost 40 years ago in San Francisco, where she attended classes at the celebrated Tante Marie’s Cooking School. Returning to her hometown of Toronto, she landed her first job as a pastry chef at Fenton’s Food Shop, located next to the much-lauded Fenton’s Restaurant. From there, she moved to Scaramouche, the beloved fine-dining institution, where she became well known for her delicious desserts. Joanne was considered a trailblazer at the time because most restaurants didn’t have a full-time pastry chef role. To this day, Chef Yolles’s famous coconut cream pie is the restaurant’s best-selling menu item. After an 11-year run at Scaramouche, Joanne took time off to start a family and eventually returned to the culinary scene as the head pastry chef at the popular Pangaea restaurant. Again, her innovative desserts were celebrated and recognized by patrons and critics alike.

In 2010, Chef Yolles turned her talents to teaching in the Baking and Pastry Arts Program at George Brown College where she was an instructor for more than a decade. She is also known for developing delicious recipes for LCBO’s culinary Food & Drink magazine and her work has been recognized in many publications; she was included in Post City Magazine’s list of “Seven Culinary Greats That Changed It All.” In 2022, Joanne appeared as one of the celebrity judges on Food Network Canada’s hit TV series, Wall of Bakers.

Chef Yolles considers baking for Julia Child as a career highlight. She is a Fellow of the Ontario Hostelry Institute and widely recognized for her generous involvement in charity events, including Porridge for Parkinson’s. For her next act, Joanne will be teaching small classes in her home kitchen; she’ll happily be sharing her recipes and all the tips and tricks she’s learned over her career.

To learn more about her daily innovations and private baking classes, connect with Chef Joanne Yolles on Instagram.


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