Custard

Classic French Strawberry Tart

2/08/2015 09:12:00 PM

Classic French Strawberry Tart

This strawberry tart was the dessert for my recent "Summer Lunch for Four": crisp almond pastry, a vanilla bean crème pâtissière, topped with fresh, super sweet strawberries. What a divine combination. This is a version of that classic strawberry tart that pretty much every French pâtisserie sells, but is so lovely when made fresh that it's totally worth the effort to make it yourself!

Classic French Strawberry Tart

I followed a Nigel Slater recipe that I found online - it was surprisingly hard to find an entire recipe for this type of tart, perhaps because the individual elements (almond pastry, crème pâtissière) are canonical recipes of French pâtisserie, and available widely.

But, back to Nigel's recipe. The base is a sweetened rich almond shortcrust - best made by hand rather than in a processor, so you don't overwork the gluten in the flour and make it tough. It's super short and crumbly, which makes it soooo delicious, but is quite tricky to roll out. Nigel suggests pressing the dough together in a log shape, slicing it thinly and pressing it into a tart tin.

Making the almond pastry

I found this method worked really well - it looked a little messy in the tin, but was fine once filled with the custard and strawberries.

Ready for the oven

Baked

To split up the work, I made and baked the pastry tart the night before we wanted to eat it, and made the crème pâtissière on the morning of our lunch party.

Here's the crème pâtissière. Mmm... vanilla beans. Sometimes I lighten crème pâtissière with whipped cream (like when I made mille feuille or a croquembouche), but I think in this case it's nice to have an intensely flavoured and thick custard against the strawberries.

Crème pâtissière

Crème pâtissière in the tart shell

Strawberries. Boom.

The whole tart can't be assembled too far in advance (a couple of hours, max), and is best served straight away while it still looks pretty and the pastry is still crisp! (Having said that, I found that the remaining leftover slice made a delicious, if rather ugly-looking, snack the next day).

Classic French Strawberry Tart

The crisp pastry, crumbling messily into the rich, vanilla-flecked custard, with the sweet-sharp floral strawberries is just incredible! Super summery and perfect for dessert, for afternoon tea, or for any occasion, really! Find some great berries and make this tart!

Classic French Strawberry Tart

I loved this with strawberries, but I'm dying to try it with fresh raspberries! As soon as I can get my hands on some fabulous (and not too pricey) raspberries, I'll be making it again.

Classic French Strawberry Tart
Recipe adapted from Nigel Slater

Ingredients
2 x 250 gram punnets of strawberries
For the Almond Pastry
150 grams plain flour
100 grams cold unsalted butter
50 grams almond meal
50 grams caster sugar
1 egg yolk
For the Vanilla-Bean Crème Pâtissière
250 millilitres full cream milk
1 vanilla pod, split and seeds scraped
4 egg yolks
75 grams caster sugar
2 tablespoons plain flour

Method
To make the pastry, place the flour in a large mixing bowl. Chop the butter into small pieces and rub into the flour using your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the almond meal and caster sugar and stir through. Add the egg yolk and mix using your hands. Roll into a large sausage shape. (If it is a warm day, you may need to refrigerate the dough to let it firm up).
Slice into thin rounds and press into a 20cm fluted tart tin with a removable base. (N.B. this recipe makes more dough than you need for a 20cm tin - bake the remaining dough into biscuits. Delicious!)
Prick the dough all over with a fork, and refrigerate for thirty minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180C.
Bake the tart shell for 15-20 minutes, or until lightly golden brown and cooked through. Allow to cool slightly in the tin before gently transferring it to a wire rack to cool.
To make the crème pâtissière, place the milk and vanilla pod into a small saucepan, and bring to a simmer. Turn off the heat and allow to infuse for 15 minutes.
Whisk together the egg yolks, caster sugar and plain flour. Pour approximately 1/3 of the hot milk mixture onto the egg yolks, and whisk to combine. Tip the mixture back into the saucepan, and cook over a low heat, whisking constantly, until thickened. Remove the vanilla pod and tip the custard into a shallow bowl. Cover with greaseproof paper (to prevent a skin forming) and refrigerate until cold.
To assemble the tart, wash and hull the strawberries, and dry on a clean tea towel or paper towel. Scrape the cold crème pâtissière into the pastry case. Top with the clean strawberries. If you aren't eating it straight away, loosely cover with glad wrap and place back in the fridge. I wouldn't leave it longer than an hour or so, though, as the tart is very fragile and is best served straight away!

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5 comments

  1. That almond crust sounds gorgeous and like a nice change for a classic dish! :D

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  2. This makes me drool, I love a good strawberry tart but it's been years since I've actually eaten one.

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  3. One day you will answer your door and I will be standing there with a fork in hand. lololol

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  4. Sooo delicious...and fresh too! Definitely need the fresh berries for it...though I'm imagining something like figs might make a good fruit topping as well? Or even peaches!

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  5. The strawberry tart looks so fresh. Maybe because of the strawberries? I just love staring at it. Could you send some to me? :D

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