Jeanne's Strawberry Tart
Serves 8 - 10
This is a light classic french dessert that I feel is so simple, yet so beautiful. I only make this when it's spring/summer time as that is when our British strawberries come in (the best in my humbled opinion!).
Ingredients - Pâte Sucrée (This will be enough for 2 x 9" flans)
- 125g soften butter, cubed
- 180g caster sugar
- 2 vanilla pods or 1/2 tsp of vanilla powder/bean paste or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 large egg
- 250g plain flour
- pinch of salt
- • Put the cubed butter and sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer. If you haven't taken the butter out before hand then I have a trick for you. Only if you have a blowtorch though!
- • Turn the machine on to slow speed until the butter isn't so chunky and has mixed with the sugar a bit. Then turn the speed up by 2 or 3 settings and keep on creaming until it's soft but not fluffy. Blowtorch Trick: if your butter is too cold it will stick to the sides, so when you've turned the speed up, turn the blowtorch on and play it on the sides of the bowl, keep moving it all around, never hold it in one area. You will see that the heat of the flame is melting the butter on the inside surface of the bowl and the butter moves down to mix in with the colder butter. Take the blowtorch away to allow the butter and sugar mixture to mix properly. If it's still a bit hard and grainy then repeat. It also saves you having to turn off the machine to scrape the butter and sugar down the bowl. I do this all the time as it really saves me time.
- Add the vanilla and mix again.
- • Crack the egg in a small bowl and beat it up with a fork. Add a pinch of salt to the egg, after a few minutes it turns the egg into water consistency so it's easier to control the pouring.
- • Add the egg into the bowl a bit at a time and wait until it is completely mixed in before adding more, in order to lower the risk of the mixture splitting. Another tip is to have the butter, sugar and eggs all at room temperature. However if you have split the mixture then carry on beating it and with the blowtorch, warm the bowl. The heat will help the mix to emulsify again, but don't overdo it as then the mixture will be runny.
- • Finally, with the machine off, add half the flour and salt, start on the slowest speed, and mix until most of the flour is absorbed. Stop the machine and add the rest of the flour, mix again until the flour is just absorbed. This will make a very short pastry which is a bit hard to use as it easily breaks when you lift it to try to line your tin with it. So if you are not confident with pastry, do mix it for an extra 10 seconds after the flour has disappeared.
- • The end result of this Pâte Sucrée is more like a really soft paste and not like a normal shortcrust.
- • Split the pastry into 2, flatten each to a disc shape, wrap it in some greaseproof paper and leave in the fridge for 20-30mins. Ideally we want the pastry to be firm but not hard as it would be more difficult to roll. We only need 1 for this recipe, you can freeze the other half, or it will keep for at least 3 or 4 days in the fridge.
- • Get 2 sheets of greaseproof or silicone paper, put the disc of pate sucree between them and start rolling. I use paper as it stops adding flour into the mixture which would make it drier, and also with paper the pastry never gets sticks to the work surface.
- • Roll the pastry into a circle: I generally roll this quite thin, about a couple of millimeters. For those who aren't confident, then roll it to the thickness of a £1 coin as it will be easier to handle.
- Get a 9inch /23cm Silverwood Flan tin and place it ontop of the rolled pastry to check you have enough pastry, roll more if needed, then place the sandwiched sheet into the fridge for 3-5mins. Check if it's chilled enough to line the tin, by peeling a bit of the paper away from the pastry, it should come out clean.
- Take the pastry out of the fridge and peel the top paper off. Flip it onto the tin and peel the second sheet of paper off. Now gently ease the pastry in to line the tin completely. Trim the excess pastry. I use my rolling pin to cut the excess pastry by rolling it on the top edges, it just takes seconds.
- Put the tin back into the fridge for 30mins or in the freezer for 15-20mins. If we skip this stage and put it straight in the oven to bake blind, the sides of the pastry will fall down because the butter is soft. Turn the oven on to 180 degrees fan.
- When the pastry is hard enough, use the paper you had used to roll the pastry, place it on top of the pastry and fill it up with baking beans, or any pulses you have. The more you put in, the better as it will keep the sides up.
- Place the tin in the oven and bake for 12mins. This time works well for my oven but it might not for you at home as all ovens are different. So keep an eye on it.
- When the timer goes off, lift a bit of the paper up to see in what state the pastry is. You want the pastry to have started gaining a bit of colour.
- Take the pastry out of the oven, remove paper and baking beans and return it to the oven for a further 6-8mins until golden brown. Again these times might not be the same for you.
- Crack an egg in a small bowl and beat it. Brush the egg all around the inside of the tart and bake for 2-3mins until it's dry. Doing this seals the pastry and in a way makes it more water proof so it stays drying for longer as crème pâtissière makes it wet very quickly.
Ingredients - Creme Patissiere
- 350g whole milk
- 150ml double cream
- 75g caster sugar
- 1 vanilla pod or 1 tsp vanilla powder/bean paste or extract
- 1 large egg
- 3 large egg yolks
- 40g cornflour
- Put the milk, cream, 1 tbsp of he sugar and vanilla in a Saucier pan and bring to the boil. I don't know the science behind this but adding a bit of sugar at the begining helps the milk/cream not stick to the pan! Though when making Creme Patissier or creme anglaise, the end mixture never sticks to our pans. It does helps that we have extremely top quality pans.
- Whisk the egg, egg yolks, the rest of the sugar and cornflour in a mixing bowl and whisk until pale and creamy.
- When the milk mixture is just about to boil, add a third of it to the egg mixture. Mix well and then add the rest of the liquid. If you are using vanilla pods, still keep them in.
- Return the mixture to the pan and put your hob between medium and high and whisk the mixture continuously and as quick as you can. When it isn't thickeneing anymore, you will need to cook it another 30 seconds – 1 minute to make sure it won't taste floury.
- Pour it on to a clean tray, cover well and put it in the fridge.
- Remove the vanilla pods and scrape any cream off it so it's dry . DO NOT BIN. These gems are very precious and expensive that still have flavour in it. I put the pods in our sugar jar and it stays in there for... a very very long time. It gives the sugar a hint of vanilla.
- Beat the crème pâte a bit so it's smooth and put it into a piping bag. If you don't have piping bags, then spoon the mixture in and level it.
- Cut the end of the piping bag and then start to pipe the mixture in the tart shell going around in circles. Starting from the edge going to the middle. Leave a few millimetres gap from the rim.
- • On a big chopping board, hule about 1-2 punnets of strawberries and then slice them thinly lengthways. If you buy 2 punnets, then you can have more of the same size. I try to buy a strawberry variety called Elsanta. For me, I find this is one of the best ones out there. They are round, plum, sweet, have tiny seeds and are super juicy. The green stalk is very small and soft so very easy to remove.
- • After slicing some, I start placing them around the edge over lapping each other so I can't see any crème pâtissière. I use the middle of the strawberry slices for the edges and as I get closer to the middle i use the small end slices.
- • Put some strawberry jam in a ramekin with a bit of water and place in the microwave to make it thinner.
- • Brush the jam over the strawberries and volia it's done.
Jeanne, Art of Living Banstead
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