On the allotment, hidden amongst the mess of straw, the berries have turned red - hooray it’s strawberry season, what a great time of the year.
I am lucky enough to live 2 minutes from a beautiful French pâtisserie, which I can often be found in, choosing bread or daydreaming about all the eclairs... they also make very beautiful strawberry tarts. I always imagined they would be tricky to make, but actually it turned out to be simple and I get to use up our strawberry bounty.
I have shared a few sweet shortcrust pastry recipes in this blog over the months, so to keep it interesting for you (and me) I tried a new recipe including ground almonds, which gives the pastry a wonderfully buttery biscuit texture. If you have a food processor the whole process takes 3 minutes (I timed myself making the pastry today) without chilling, so it really is that easy and I urge you to give it a go.
Strawberry Tart Recipe
For the pastry
125g unsalted butter
60g icing sugar
125g plain flour
75g ground almonds
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 pinch of salt
1 egg yolk
1 vanilla pod
40g caster sugar
2 egg yolks
150g fresh strawberries
2 tbsp Belvoir raspberry and elderflower cordial (optional)
edible flowers to decorate (optional)
First start with the pastry as it will need 2 hours chilling in the fridge. Place the butter and icing sugar into a food processor and blitz to create a paste. Then add flour, ground almonds, baking powder and salt and blitz again to create a breadcrumb texture. Finally add the egg yolk to bring it together to form a dough. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and place into the fridge to chill for a minimum of 2 hours.
Once the pastry has had its chill time, preheat the oven to 180ºC. Lightly dust a work surface with flour and roll out the pastry dough to the thickness of a £1 coin and then carefully transfer it to a 20cm springform cake tin. The pastry may well break, which is ok, just place it into the tin and then patch it together with the broken pieces and build up the sides to a height of 3cm. Line the base with some baking parchment and weigh down with baking beads, bake in the oven for 8 minutes, then remove the baking parchment and baking beads and bake again for a further 5 minutes, or until the pastry case is lightly golden brown. Leave to cool in the tin.
To make the creme patisserie, split the vanilla pod in half and pop into a medium saucepan along with the milk and slowly bring to the boil. Whilst the milk and vanilla are heating up, in a bowl, whisk the egg yolks and caster sugar together until pale and fluffy, then whisk in the cornflour. Once the milk is just coming up to boiling point remove the vanilla pod and pour half of the hot milk into the whisked egg yolks and quickly whisk togther. Then tip the whisked hot milk and egg mixture into the remaining half of the milk in the saucepan and keep whisking whilst it’s on the heat - until it forms a thick custard. Remove from the heat and place in a bowl and cover with clingfilm (allow the clingfilm to touch the surface of the creme patisserie so that no skin is formed) Once cool, place in the fridge to chill until you're ready to assemble.
Halve the strawberries and, if using, pour the cordial over the top and mix together. Leave to stand whilst you assemble the tart.
Carefully remove the sides of the springform cake tin to reveal the tart case and transfer it to a serving plate or board. Spoon in the cooled creme patisserie and spread into an even layer, arrange the strawberries into a mound in the centre of the tart and, if using, decorate with edible flowers.
Keep the tart in the fridge and try to eat it up in two days…if it lasts that long! (after that the pastry will be a bit soggy)
What a lovely dessert for a dinner party and also a lovely addition to afternoon tea. I hope this inspires you to grab some strawberries and give it a go!