Tarte Tropézienne

(one tarte serves 8)

This Tarte Tropézienne recipe is not my original creation. It's based on a recipe in a cookbook entitled La table d'un Provençal by Mr. Guy Gedda, a noted authority on provençal cuisine, and incorporates some adaptations we've made to accommodate our own tastes.

According to Mr. Guy Gedda, the recipe was developed by Alexandre Micka, a Pole whose family immigrated to the Lorraine part of France in 1914. WWII brought Mr. Micka to St.-Tropez. He fell in love with the sun and sea and decided to stay after the War. Relying on his pre-War apprenticeship in a pastry shop in Lorraine, he opened his own pastry shop in St.-Tropez. Using local ingredients, he re-created, as best he could, a pastry that he recalled from his youth in Lorraine and called it "Tarte Tropézienne". The people in St.-Tropez didn't give much regard to his creation at first. It was considered just a "local curiosity" until the 1960's when St.-Tropez began attracting beautiful people from around the world who fell in love with his creation.

Mr. Micka's biggest turning point came in 1970, when he was offered a one-month Mexican vacation by an American businessman who owned a chain of Mexican restaurants in the U.S. The offer was conditioned on Mr. Micka cooking up his Tarte Tropézienne at various restaurants to introduce to North American palates.

This sojourn in North America introduced Mr. Micka to the convenience of frozen foods and he launched a line of frozen Tarte Tropézienne upon his return to France to increase his market base.

Today, the authentic Tarte Tropézienne is made fresh in Cogolin, a town adjacent to St.-Tropez. Mr. Micka will not reveal the secrets of his crème pâtissière. But a pastry chef named Roland Delmonte in Bormes les Mimosas, the home of Mr. Gedda's restaurant, has re-created it to a level of 19.5 authenticity on a scale of 20! Here is his basic recipe with a few of our modifications added in.

This is an ambitious recipe which takes about 5 hours from start to finish.

If you're interested in reading more on Saint Tropez, visit Saint-Tropez's Open-Air Market: A Food-Lover's Photo Tour (http://www.saturdaymarket.com/Saint-Tropez).

 (All measures are by weight.)

For the brioche dough (makes one tarte about 12 - 14" in diameter):

11 oz. flour
1 level teaspoon salt
1 oz. sugar
3 eggs
4 oz. butter
½ oz. dry yeast
1 TBS lukewarm milk
1 egg yolk (for glazing the top of the brioche)
1 handful of baker's crystallized sugar (or sliced almonds)

For the pastry cream:

1 quart milk
7 oz. sugar
8 eggs
5 oz. flour
2 vanilla beans
9 oz. butter

To make the dough:

To make the pastry cream:

Final assembly:
  • Cut the brioche tarte in half horizontally.
  • Spread the pastry cream on the bottom layer.
  • Arrange halved strawberries or raspberries on the cream layer and replace the final top layer of the brioche.
  • Refrigerate until served.