Monday, June 9, 2014

Strawberry tart - A refreshing summer dessert

This tart is delicious and elegant and can be served to a lovely dinner party and sure to impress

Strawberry tart is a beautiful way to enjoy seasonal fruits in a refreshing summer dessert. It consists of a fully baked tart shell which is lined with rich crème pâtissière and topped with fresh strawberries. This tart is delicious and elegant and can be served to a lovely dinner party and sure to impress!

This tart is delicious and elegant and can be served to a lovely dinner party and sure to impress

Crème pâtissière is a thick custard filling prepared using egg yolks, sugar, milk and flour. This is one of the most important pastry creme used in French desserts and pastries and should definitely be in every cook's repertoire.

This tart is delicious and elegant and can be served to a lovely dinner party and sure to impress

Sugar crusts are particularly good for fresh fruit tart. They are delicate and have a lovely golden color. Until now, I have struggled with tart shells. I learned that an important factor is the time required for baking, because this tart can be burnt easily and secondly, the amount of sugar used determines the texture and consistency of the crust. The more sugar you add, the more difficult is to mold the pastry and breaks easily. 

This tart is delicious and elegant and can be served to a lovely dinner party and sure to impress

The following recipe is the best I tried so far. The crème pâtissière had a beautiful consistency and the crust baked with a beautiful golden color and texture. All the elements of this strawberry tart are easy to prepare and delicious.

Yield: 8 servings     
                     
Ingredients for crème pâtissière:
  • 5 egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 60 g (1/2 cup) of flour
  • 500 ml (2 cups) boiling milk
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
Ingredients for sugar crust:
  • 185 g (1 1/2 cup) all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 7 tablespoons of cold butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1 egg 
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Ingredients for topping:
  • 750 g (1 1/2 pound) fresh strawberries, sliced
Directions:
  1. For the crème pâtissière preparation, add the egg yolks and sugar in a mixing bowl. Using the whisk attachment, gradually beat the sugar into egg yolks and continue beating for 2 to 3 minutes until the mixture is pale yellow and thick.
  2. Add the flour and continue mixing.
  3. With the mixer still on, gradually pour on the boiling milk in a thin stream of droplets.
  4. Pour the egg composition into a saucepan and set over medium heat. Stir with a wire whip, reaching all over bottom of the pan.
  5. As the sauce comes to a boil, it will get lumpy but it will smooth out as you beat. When boiled is reached, mix over low heat for 2-3 minutes to cook the flour.
  6. Remove the pan from heat and add the butter and vanilla extract and mix well until incorporated.
  7. Place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the custard so a skin doesn't form and refrigerate and set, at least 3 hours or up to 2 days
  8. For the sugar crust preparation, whisk together the egg with water in a small bowl and set aside.
  9. Place the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor and process briefly to combine.
  10. Place the butter over the flour mixture and until the mixture resembles coarse meal, about 15 1-second pulses.
  11. With the machine running, add the egg mixture and process until the dough just comes together, about 12 seconds.
  12. Place the dough on a pastry board and with the heel of your hand (not palm), rapidly  press into 18 cm (6-inch) disk.
  13. Wrap the dough in parchment paper or plastic and refrigerate for several hours or up to 48 hours until firm.
  14. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  15. Remove the dough from the refrigerator (if refrigerated longer than 1 hour, let stand at room temperature until workable). Unwrap and roll out between 2 lightly floured large sheets of parchment paper to a 13-inch round.
  16. Carefully, transfer the dough to a 9- to 9½-inch tart pan. Ease the dough into the pan corners and press the dough against the fluted sides of the pan.
  17. Run the rolling pin over the top of the tart pan to remove the excess dough.
  18. Freeze the dough-lined tart pan for 30 minutes before baking.
  19. Because the dough is easily collapsible in the oven, is essential that the dough is held in place against the sides of the mold by a lining foil and beans or pie weights.
  20. Bake the crust in the middle level of the preheated oven oven for 6-7 minutes until the dough is set.
  21. Remove the lining with the weights, prick the bottom of the pastry with a fork and bake for 8-10 more minutes until golden.
  22. Immediately remove the mold from the crust and slip it onto a rack and cool at room temperature.
  23. To assemble the tart, spread the cold pastry cream over the bottom of the tart shell and arrange the strawberry slices in an overlapping circles starting at the inside edge of the pastry.
Enjoy this delightful dessert on a warm summer day!

Tips and Tricks:
  • Strawberries can be glazed with boiled red currant or peach jelly.
  • You can keep the tart in the refrigerator, uncovered (or lightly covered with a piece of plastic wrap) for 2 days. 
Recipe adapted from Julia Child  

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