Tarte Tropézienne

 

Tarte Tropézienne, a popular cake in Saint-Tropez pastry shops, was described by Pierre Hermé to be mythique. At least that was how Dorie Greenspan recounted in her book Baking Chef Moi (the recipe can be found on page 82 or here at Food52). With that in mind, I set out to make this “fancy” cake along with other bakers at Tuesdays with Dorie this week. Please check the blogroll to see their creations.

Things went in a different direction than anticipated. While I was kneading the dough, before the butter was added, my Kitchen Aid mixer began to sputter. I steadied the machine. Wrapped a kitchen towel around the glass bowl while holding down the mixer to prevent it from slipping and skidding on the countertop. All of the sudden, the glass mixing bowl cracked and broke in pieces. I was reaching for all the wrong levers to stop the paddle from spinning. Meanwhile, fragments of the glass bowl, some big and some small, were shattered all round. You can see tiny shards of glass on the surface of dough, which was still hanging around the paddle attachment over the broken bowl. What a sight! (In retrospect, I should have switched to the dough hook, and not continuing to use the paddle for the task. I might have been able to avert the disaster. I should know better.)

Time to throw out the dough as well as the butter sitting next to the mixer. Time to clean out the debris on the kitchen counter and the floor from the carnage. Nothing can be salvaged. It was tedious to remove every teeny bit of broken glass in all the nooks and crannies. If I want to make the cake, it’s time to do over and, calmly, gather the fresh ingredients (dry yeast, milk, all-purpose flour, sugar, eggs and butter) for another batch.

Then I discovered that the motor of the mixer had stopped running properly. The mixer was smoked. It was history. The strain of the extended kneading and 20+ years of continued service must have taken a toll on this poor classic Kitchen Aid mixer. If I still want to make the cake, the brioche dough would have to be done by hand. The task requires 15-18 minutes mixing time at medium speed in an electric mixer. Decision time: continue or abolish?

I took the plunge. I was not ready to surrender. I mixed the ingredients and kneaded the dough with all my might and grit. For a while, I thought it was a lost cause because the shaggy dough just wouldn’t come together. The butter was melting. I put the dough in the refrigerator to chill so that it became more workable in my hands. When all else seemed to have failed, my biceps/triceps took over and came to my rescue. Watching the Kentucky Derby while kneading was also a helpful distraction. In fits and starts, the kneading continued, together with series of slap and roll. The finished brioche dough was smooth and nice to the touch when I was done with it. Finally, something was working well. All that had happened and the shattered nerves were kneaded tightly into this ball of dough, the size of a grapefruit.

The dough was left out at room temperature for the first rise until it doubled in volume. Then I put it in the refrigerator for a cold ferment overnight. Next morning, it was shaped and placed in a 9-inch round pan ready to be baked. That was uneventful.

No pearl sugar, used decorative sparkling sugar instead

The cake was finally done. I decorated it with some fresh raspberries around the edge of the pastry cream fillings between the cake layers. I served the tarte Tropézienne to a few guests for dinner on Mother’s day. Not much was said about the cake. But there was nothing left of it. I think it’s a good cake with a tall tale, mythical or not, waiting to be told.

A replacement Kitchen Aid mixer will arrive in a few days. I found some good deals online. I treated myself with an upgraded mixer, but no glass bowl, for Mother’s day!

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20 Comments

  • Reply
    Cakelaw
    May 10, 2016 at 7:55 am

    I have the utmost admiration for the fact that you kneaded the dough by hand. Your resulting tarte is beautiful! The effort paid off in spades.

  • Reply
    Mardi Michels
    May 10, 2016 at 10:00 am

    WOW I can't even imagine doing that by hand (I did use the paddle but only had 1/2 of the amount of dough but noted that the dough hook might be useful for a full amount). Good for you! It looks lovely!

  • Reply
    Nicole
    May 10, 2016 at 10:15 am

    OMG. You have my undying respect for carrying on and making this entirely by hand. I did have to hold down my stand mixer as I ran it for this dough too, but glad I was using the metal bowl. After all that I thought I should have used the dough hook, too. Yours is gorgeous and hopefully tasted as good as all that kneading took!

  • Reply
    Nicole
    May 10, 2016 at 10:16 am

    OMG. You have my undying respect for carrying on and making this entirely by hand. I did have to hold down my stand mixer as I ran it for this dough too, but glad I was using the metal bowl. After all that I thought I should have used the dough hook, too. Yours is gorgeous and hopefully tasted as good as all that kneading took!

  • Reply
    Peggy the Baker
    May 10, 2016 at 12:32 pm

    Wow! Amazing to carry on after the mixer broke. You deserve a standing ovation! Your tarte is absolutely beautiful which shows that perseverance and determination pay off.

  • Reply
    sanyaliving.com
    May 10, 2016 at 12:41 pm

    Looks beautiful, love the colour of the berries!
    My kitchen aid didn't cope either, it was bouncing and shaking all over the place! I ended up with a wet sticky paste and started again with the hook attachment. I thought this was a pain! I am not going to say another word after reading what you went through and then made it by hand! You have my respect 🙂

  • Reply
    flour.ish.en
    May 10, 2016 at 4:36 pm

    Thank you so much.

  • Reply
    flour.ish.en
    May 10, 2016 at 4:37 pm

    If I manage to hand knead brioche dough, then nothing is off limit!

  • Reply
    flour.ish.en
    May 10, 2016 at 4:38 pm

    I should have used the metal bowl, then I won't have to go through all that trouble.

  • Reply
    flour.ish.en
    May 10, 2016 at 4:39 pm

    Yes, perseverance and determination pay off for me.

  • Reply
    flour.ish.en
    May 10, 2016 at 4:40 pm

    Thank you for your kind words. Why did I not think of using the hook attachment sooner?

  • Reply
    amy
    May 10, 2016 at 9:57 pm

    I can't believe how much work you put into this. It looks like your efforts were well worth it though, your tart is beautiful! I hope it tasted as good as it looked. You may have just inspired me to try this recipe that I was going to skip.

  • Reply
    Zosia
    May 10, 2016 at 10:39 pm

    Kudos for making the dough by hand. It's a tricky one to make in a machine; I can't imagine doing it manually. But your tarte is perfect so your perseverance paid off.

    PS Did you notice the avid bakers project for this month – no knead brioche! I would have gone that route.

  • Reply
    flour.ish.en
    May 10, 2016 at 10:41 pm

    I do have an affinity for brioche. This recipe for brioche dough is good, not great!

  • Reply
    flour.ish.en
    May 10, 2016 at 10:47 pm

    I am not a big believer in no-knead anything. You are giving up the texture and structure of the finished bread for convenience, in my opinion.

  • Reply
    Karen @ From Scratch
    May 11, 2016 at 5:34 pm

    I love your perseverance! I can be stubborn like that too. Your cake looks perfect for a Mother's Day dessert!

  • Reply
    flour.ish.en
    May 11, 2016 at 7:07 pm

    Giving up is never an option for stubborn people. I am like that too.

  • Reply
    Ryan
    May 11, 2016 at 9:06 pm

    Wow! You made that by hand?! That's impressive! Kudos on your marvelous tarte!

  • Reply
    Diane Zwang
    May 11, 2016 at 11:47 pm

    Sorry to hear about your Kitchen Aide demise. From my baking groups I have burned one out too. Like everyone has said kudos to you for carrying on. My mother always made bread by hand so I would have done the same thing. When I make this I will use the dough hook like you suggested. Post pictures of your new mixer:)

  • Reply
    Teresa
    May 13, 2016 at 9:38 pm

    I'm so impressed that you made this by hand, especially after your KitchenAid disaster! I'm glad that you've got a new one on the way. Brioche dough is so hard on stand mixers. I've put a note in my book to use the dough hook when I attempt this one.

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