Summery Strawberry and Banana Tarte Royale

My brother is over from the States to visit my mother and we had a family get together on Saturday.  The hubby made a delicious Shirazi onion, tomato and cucumber Middle Eastern salad and I was tasked with pudding.  The specific request was another Gateau Fraisier but whilst it was tempting to iron out the imperfections of my first try, it would go against the whole point of this blog.  Instead I found this Tarte in Eric Lanlard’s book, Tart it Up.  It consists of Caramelised Bananas, Creme Diplomate and Strawberries on a millefeuille base, decorated with spun sugar.  Sugar work always challenges me, my puff pastry skills needed a refresher and I have never tried making millefeuille from puff pastry so I decided this was a winner.


Now I have a confession to make. I have been experimenting a little recently so my bakes are proving a little less successful than usual.  The hubby has pointed out that every bake recently has involved a high baking drama of some sort as mistakes are made, and he is right (to an extent), but mistakes make you learn so I intend to carry on. experimenting a little.

This bake was no exception to my experimentation phase. Him indoors turned his nose up a bit when I first mooted it mainly because the original had a layer of Chantilly Cream so I decided to switch it for Creme Diplomate – a combination of Creme Patissiere and Whipped Cream.

I first came across Creme Diplomate when I made the Bienenstich and know it was a delicious. I was nervous about the consistency but decided to take the risk anyway. Taste wise it was delicious and turned this into a very large Millefeuille Slice but the Creme  lacks the stiffness of whipped cream which made the pudding sag and ooze a bit when assembled.


I am however going to stick with this version and make some tweaks to the Creme nect time I do it.  Creme Diplomate can be made with various proportions of whipped cream to  creme patissiere and in the recipe below I have halved the whipped cream content I used and specified double cream rather than whipping cream which has a higher fat content and so whips stiffer.  The addition of a small amount gelatine may also be needed but I have left it out as what you want here is a fluffy cream which the gelatine tends to kill a little.

The other trickiness was the millefeuille base.  Millefeuille means “1000 leaves” and is made from puff pastry which is weighed down for part of the bake by putting another baking sheet  on top of it so you get lamination but without the puff.  It took way longer to bake than the recipe said (nearly double the time), and I took the top baking sheet off a little too soon.  The pastry then decided to do what it is designed to do and puffed up in an alarmingly high dome which would have made the assembly of the cake a little tricky.  The baking sheet had to be whipped back on top for another 10 minutes to press the dome down.  In the end it turned out fine but as ever with a first bake, I was in a constant state of nervousness until it was finished.

One last thing to watch out for is the spun sugar.  The main lesson – do this just before you serve! The dampness of the strawberries dissolves the fine threads after about 20 minutes.

Version 3

Was the overall bake tricky?  Well if you used puff pastry  pre-rolled from the shops, and used Chantilly Cream rather than Creme Diplomate, actually it would be quite straightforward. If you make the puff pastry from scratch and do Creme Diplomate there are quite a few additional stages to consider.  Any other downsides?  Well the recipe calls for Creme de Banane, a liqueur made from Bananas which I suspect may join a few other liqueurs at the back of the drinks cabinet that only ever see the light of day at the end of a particularly boozy dinner party.

And finally the family reaction to the cake?  Well they all said it was a perfect summer cake, and very delicious. My mother and younger brother in particular eyed up the one remaining slice with a steely glint on their eyes and I was convinced they would have wrestled for possession of it.  Instead I cut it into 2 to relieve the tension!

The Recipe

This recipe makes a big cake – 12″ across.  Scale it down if you want something smaller.

The Stages

  • The day before
    • make the Puff Pastry   (or buy 600g from your local supermarket)
    • make the Creme Patissiere
  • Bake the Millefeuille base
  • Caramelise the bananas
  • Make the Creme Dilpomate
  • Assemble the cake
  • Decorate with spun sugar

The Ingredients

Puff Pastry

  • 280g strong bread flour (plain will do but does not laminate as well)
  • 250g unsalted butter
  • pinch of a salt
  • 170g water

Creme Patissiere

  • 500ml whole milk
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 4 medium egg yolks
  • 40g cornflour
  • 40g butter

Creme Diplomate

  • Creme Patisisiere from above
  • 200ml double cream

Caramelised Bananas

  • 4 bananas (not too ripe)
  • 4tbsp dark muscovado sugar
  • 85g unsalted butter
  • 4tbsp Creme de Banane liqueur

Strawberries and Spun Sugar

  • 600g strawberries
  • 100g sugar

The Method

The Puff Pastry – this takes at least 6 hours from end to end

  • Stage 1
    • sift the flour and salt together
    • put in a food processor
    • turn on the processor and gradually poor in the water until the mixture is combined
    • form into a small ball
    • wrap in cling film and chill for at least 2 hours
  • Stage 2
    • put the butter between 2 sheets of baking parchment
    • using a rolling pin flatten the butter to one sheet
    • slice in half and put on top of each other and shape into a postcard sized slab (don’t do the mess in the photo!)
  • Stage 3 – Incorporating the fat for the first time
    • roll out the dough made earlier into a circle
    • place the butter on top
    • fold the dough over the butter to cover it
    • gently press it and then roll it  out into a long rectangle
  •  Stage 4 – double fold and roll – 3 times
    • fold top third of the strip down, fold the bottom third over that
    • turn by a quarter
    • press the edges with the rolling pin to seal
    • press out the parcel by gently pressing down with the rolling pin
    • then roll out to a rectangular strip
    • fold top third of the strip down, fold the bottom third over that
    • turn by a quarter
    • press the edges with the rolling pin to seal
    • wrap in cling film and chill for at least one hour
    • Repeat this double roll and fold  Stage 2 more times
    • Wrap in cling film and chill for 2 hours at least (preferably overnight) before using

The Creme Patissiere

  • separate the eggs
  • weigh out the sugar and cornflour and set to one side
  • put the milk into a saucepan
  • split the vanilla pod in half, scrape the seeds of the vanilla pod into the milk and then put the  remaining pod in the milk
  • bring the milk just to the boil and then take off the heat
  • whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until the colour lightens to a pale yellow
  • add a little of the milk
  • whisk in the cornflour until smooth
  • add half the milk and whisk until smooth and then pour the mixture back into the pan of milk
  • take the pods out
  • heat the mixture stirring all the time to prevent lumps forming
  • once thick and gloopy take off the heat and stir in the butter until it is melted
  • press the mixture through a sieve
  • cover with clingfilm with the clingfilm touching the surface to stop a skin forming
  • put in fridge to cool

Bake the Millefeuille Base

  • preheat the oven to 200C / 180C fan
  • roll out the pastry to the size needed and about 5mm thick
  • cut into a circle (I used a flan tin base as my template)
  • place the circle on baking sheet
  • brush with melted butter
  • fork the pastry all over leaving a 2 cm rim around the edge
  • put a  sheet of baking parchment on top and then put another baking sheet (or your flan base) on top
  • bake in the oven for 20 minutes
  • take the baking sheet and parchment off and bake for another 10 minutes until golden brown
  • allow to cool

Make the Caramelised Bananas

  • slice the bananas
  • melt the butter and sugar together and bring to the boil
  • add the bananas and cook until golden brown, turning them once  (this takes about 3 minutes)
  • take off the heat and add the creme de banane (if possible try to light the creme to flambe the bananas)
  • allow to cool

Make the Creme Diplomate

  • whisk the cream until stiff (reserve a few spoonfulls for later)
  • whisk the creme patissiere until smooth
  • fold in the cream

Assemble the Cake

  • hull the strawberries and cut in half
  • glue the cake to the serving dish by putting a few dabs of cream onto the plate
  • cover the millefeuille base evenly with the bananas
  • cover with the creme diplomate leaving a 2 cm gap to allow for oozing
  • cover with the strawberries
  • store in the fridge to help the creme to set again

Making the Spun Sugar

  • fill a bowlbig enough to accommodate your pan with water
  • melt the sugar in a pan until it is a light golden colour
  • once all melted  plunge your pan into the water to stop it caramelising more
  • wait for the sugar to cool slightly
  • using a wooden spoon, take a spoon full of caramel, hold vertically and when threads start to form randomly spin them across your pudding





2 Comments Add yours

  1. chefkreso says:

    Absolutely delicious!


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