Strawberries are back in the shops, and although I know it is far too early, it is still tempting to buy a punnet, especially if they are on offer. They are rarely ripe enough to be eaten on the spot, but they’ll make a delicious topping for a tarte like the one Linda brought along to last week’s Fiesta Friday. Her Tarte au Framboises looked so amazing, I simply could not resist the temptation to make one for myself, using the aforementioned strawberries.
Angie’s weekly Fiesta Friday party is such a wonderful idea: simply pop over to FiestaFriday.net and check out what people have brought along: starters, drinks, mains, desserts, cakes, funny stories – in short, everything you’d expect from a party! This week, Angie is joined by the wonderful Justine @ Eclectic odds n sods and Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook, who will co-host the event by visiting your contributions and putting forward their suggestions for posts to be featured on the following Friday. Do come along, read the guidelines if you’d like to link up a post, and take a look around – people really go out of their way to welcome you, to comment on your contributions and to generally make you feel at home.
I’m a great fan of Linda’s blog and I wish I had the time and energy to try out more of her recipes, especially those delicious Algerian and Northern African dishes! This tarte, really, is a bit of a compromise: taking inspiration from Linda and picking up a few ideas here and there, I used my own basic short crust and custard recipes to start with, substituting ingredients here and there, following Linda’s advice.
Tarte aux Fraises (for a 24 cm / 10 in fluted tin)
For the shortcrust pastry/pâte sucrée:
- 180g plain flour
- 120g butter, not too soft
- 60g icing sugar
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1 egg
- pinch of salt
For the filling:
- 1 pint of milk
- 4 egg yolks
- the zest of one lemon
- 60 g caster sugar
- 2 tsp cornflour
- 1 punnet of strawberries, or raspberries, blueberries, you name it.
Begin mixing the ingredients for your shortcrust pastry on a cool surface, ideally with a spatula or similar to prevent the pastry to get too warm: check out my short crust pastry tutorial here. Cutting up the butter and mixing it with the other ingredients is the aim here, until you have it all nicely crumbled up. With cool hands, quickly work the crumbs into a soft dough; if necessary add a little bit of flour but don’t overdo it as it takes away from the lovely taste and texture of this pastry! Wrap it up in cling film and put it into the fridge for at least 1 hour.
When you’re ready, heat your oven to 180 C / 350 F and grease your flan tin. Roll out the dough on a floured surface. Fold it over and roll it our again but avoid touching the dough with your hands as you want to keep it cool. Finally roll it out very thinly between two sheets of greaseproof paper – Linda’s suggestion, and a real revelation! Place the dough into your tin and cut off the excess, then prick the surface a couple of times with a fork.
Place a sheet of greaseproof paper in the tin and fill it with dried chickpeas or similar – check out Linda’s post for really instructive pictures of the process. The chickpeas help to keep the soft dough in place during the ‘blind baking’. Pop it in the oven, on the bottom shelf, and bake for around 20-30 minutes or until the crust takes on a lovely golden colour. You might want to remove the greaseproof paper and the chickpeas halfway through the process to speed it all up.
Remove from the oven and leave it to cool. If you are using strawberries, either wash and hull them to use them whole, half them or cut them into thin slices, depending on how you want the finished cake to look. That early in the season it makes more sense to use them sliced as you can bring our their aroma more by dusting them with a little icing sugar before serving – not too early or they will leave pink puddles on your custard topping!
Time to get the crème patissière, which in my case is a thick custard with added lemon zest instead of the vanilla – again, Linda’s recipe was a real eye-opener. As for custard, bring the milk to boil. Once it is bubbling, set it aside to cool a little.
Beat the yolks with the sugar until the mass is almost white – this takes almost 10 minutes with an electric mixer. Add the lemon zest, the cornflour and finally the milk.
Pour it all back into the cooking pot and bring it to boil, stirring constantly. Once it bubbles, remove it from the heat and leave it to cool down a little before pouring it into the pastry. Keep stirring it regularly to prevent the forming of skin.
Once it is cooled down a little you can pour it into the crust. Decorate the strawberries on top and place the tarte in the fridge for an hour or so to allow the custard to stiffen a little before serving. Sift a little icing sugar over the strawberries just before serving to bring our their colour!