I seem to have just missed Bord Bia’s National Strawberry Week while on my Croatian travels, but really, you don’t ever need an excuse to indulge in fresh Irish strawberries. At the moment, I’m particularly enjoying them for my lunch, drizzled with balsamic vinegar and black pepper. A friend tipped me off on this one, and my scepticism faded the moment I tried it.
Rather than waxing lyrical about balsamic vinegar for a whole post, which I worry may actually happen one day, today it is the turn of this French-ish fresh strawberry tart, adapted from recipes by Dorie Greenspan (for the pastry) and Smitten Kitchen. It seems like a complicated recipe, but actually it’s great for a party because you can make all of the component pieces in advance, and keep them in the fridge until you’re ready to use them.
All in all, the recipe needed 6 egg yolks, so I made a raspberry pavlova as well, but tragically forgot to take photos of the finished product. Pavlovas are a summer staple in these parts though, so I imagine there’ll be one gracing the blog son enough.
If you’re still looking for strawberry inspiration, there were plenty of delicious looking treats appearing this week. Here’s a selection:
Now onto the recipe…
Thanks need to go to @Clarekleinedler over at An American In Ireland, who was most helpful when I was having a dish-adaptation panic. Quantities here are for one 11-inch pastry dish (you’ll need every last crumb of the pastry, but have filling to spare). I think my leftovers may have fallen foul of a midnight fridge visitor though…
Also, when you’re making the filling, I’d recommend saving the biggest saucepan you have for the second step, after the initial milk boiling. The milky mix grows exponentially when on the boil and you could end up manically trying to find a second saucepan with one hand as the other tries to stop the inevitable milky mess from getting any worse. (<- Not personal experience at all).
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup icing sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 1/2 oz very cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk
1. Put the flour, icing sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse to combine. Scatter the butter over the dry ingredients and pulse again until crumbly.
2. Stir the egg, and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. When the egg is in, process in 10 seconds bursts, until the dough forms clumps and curds. I needed to add a tablespoon of water at this stage, but don’t panic, it’s kind of crumbly in nature.
3. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and lightly and sparingly (with cold hands!) knead the dough just enough to make sure all the ingredients are incorporated.
4. Butter the tart pan and press the dough evenly along the bottom and up the sides of the pan. I’m quoting from Greenspan here who says, “Don’t be stingy – you want a crust with a little heft because you want to be able to both taste and feel it. Also, don’t be too heavy-handed – you want to press the crust in so that the pieces cling to one another and knit together when baked, but you don’t want to press so hard that the crust loses its crumbly shortbreadish texture.”
5. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.
6. To partially bake the crust preheat the oven to 175°C . Butter the shiny side of a piece of tin foil and place over the tart, covering with ceramic baking beans (or actual beans/rice). Bake the crust for 25 minutes, then remove the foil and the beans (they’ll be hot!). Bake for another 3 to 5 minutes, then transfer the crust to a cooling rack; keep it in its pan.
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
5 large egg yolks
150 g sugar
4.5 tbsp cornflour
65g butter (at room temperature).
2 punnets fresh strawberries (again, there will be leftovers).
1. Bring the milk to the boil, and set to one side.
2. This is where you need your biggest saucepan. Whisk the egg yolks, sugar, and cornflour together until thick and pale. Keep whisking as you slowly drizzle a quarter of the hot milk onto the yolks. Keep whisking as you add the rest of the milk.
3. Put the pan over medium heat and, whisking vigorously while bringing the mixture to the boil. When it has reached the boil, whisk for a further minute. Then remove the pan from the heat and pour the pastry cream into a cool container. Add the vanilla extract and allow the pastry cream to cool on the counter for about 3 minutes.
4. Then add the butter to the hot pastry cream, stirring until the butter is melted and incorporated. Chill the cream, in the fridge, covering the surface with a piece of cling film to create an airtight seal.
5. To assemble the tart just fill with the pastry cream and decorate with strawberries. Don’t do this too far in advance or it will get soggy, but a few hours is fine.