After some fresh strawberry picking at Parkside Farm Pick Your Own, I gave this strawberry tart made with sweetened short crust pastry a try. It is filled with a layer of homemade strawberry jam, followed by some rich vanilla crème patissiere, and topped with fresh strawberries. The jam was an excellent way to use some of the bruised strawberries as the first step is to mash them up.
For the pastry:
250 grams plain flour
145 grams cold unsalted butter cut into cubes
Two egg yolks mixed with 2-3 tablespoons of cold water
3 table spoons caster sugar
For the jam:
200 grams fresh strawberries
100 grams caster sugar
Juice of half a lemon
For the crème patissiere:
400ml (I just weigh 400 grams) of whole milk
80 grams caster sugar
4 egg yolks
30 grams cornflour – this is the thickening agent that differentiates this from a normal custard
1 vanilla pod, seeded and halved (use two if you want a stronger kick)
For the topping:
500 gram strawberries, halved (or sliced if you want it to look different and neater)
Left over strawberry jam from above
Make the pastry and chill it:
- Put the flour and butter cubes with a pinch of salt into a food processor and pulse until you get a breadcrumb texture.
- Transfer to a large bowl and the sugar, mix then add 2-3 table spoons of the egg/water mixture and quickly cut through the mixture with the knife while shaking the bowl to incorporate. Test with your hand if the mix comes together when you scrunch it with your hand, if not, add more liquid until it does.
- Turn out onto a work surface and combine to form dough (shouldn’t take more than 10 seconds of ‘bringing together’. You don’t want to kneed it like bread to create gluten as you want it to be short.
- Shape into a round slab around an inch thick, wrap in cling film, and place in fridge (to harden – for 30-45 minutes)
Make the crème patissiere:
- Whisk the egg yolks and sugar (I did by hand, takes 2 minutes) until it is pale and creamy. Then add the cornflour and whisk to incorporate.
- Bring the milk and vanilla to the boil. Once it is boiling, turn off heat and strain half into the egg yolk mix while whisking hard to avoid a scrambled egg situation. Once mixed strain the rest of the milk in and mix.
- Transfer to a clean pan, and using a silicone spatula bring back to the boil on a medium heat. It will go from thin to very thick within seconds so keep your eye on it. Continue to mix thoroughly once it has thickened for 2-3 minutes, then transfer to a bowl or tray and cover with cling film to prevent a film forming and leave to cool. The cling film should touch the surface of the crème pat to lock out air.
Make the jam:
- Place the strawberries in a heavy based pan. Crush them with a fork or potato masher. Add the sugar and lemon juice.
- On a low heat stir until sugar is dissolved then turn up the heat and bring to the boil while mixing.
- Boil for around 7-8 minutes while stirring and transfer to a bowl until ready.
Blind bake the tart case:
- Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees / gas 6.
- Roll the pastry out so it is large enough to cover a 23cm tart tin. It should be the thickness of a pound coin.
- Line the tin with the pastry. I like to leave some hanging over the edge and trim it with a sharp knife post bake for a neater finish. Cover with cling film and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. This is important as if it isn’t cold, it will shrink when baking.
- Prick the pastry with a fork to minimize rise.
- Blind bake by using parchment paper, or grease proof paper to line the tin and fold over edges to protect, and fill with rice or baking beans.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes. It should look around half cooked, still pale on the base, with maybe some browning on the sides. Remove the parchment and baking beans and bake for another 10 or so minutes until golden at the base. Leave to cool.
Assemble the tart:
- Place a thin layer of the cooled jam on the base of the tart.
- Take the crème pat out of the fridge, it will be set but don’t worry – use a spatula to vigorously mix it back into a useable form. Use a piping bag if you have one, otherwise spoon it on and create a layer between 1-1.5cm thick on the base.
- Add the strawberries onto the tart. I laid the halves cut side down, but assumable however you like.
- Sieve the remaining jam to remove any bits and warm through to loosen, then brush onto the strawberries as a glaze.
- It can be eaten now, or cooled in the fridge for the crème pat to be more set again. I preferred it cool.