I know, FINALLY! Life has been getting a little in the way of blogging for the last couple of weeks but I’m definitely going to refocus and get myself back on track. I’ve not been feeling my best and have been back home for the past two weekends which hasn’t left me a lot of free time to bake. Usually when I fall out of my routine I make lots of lists. Lists are always the answer; my office notebook is basically pages and pages of lists. Checking something off your list is such a satisfying feeling…well, for me anyway! So I’m working on a list of recipes to tackle and check off over the summer, stay tuned!
Strawberry Week (or what actually became strawberry two and a half weeks) is brought to a close with these adorable little tarts. There are a lot of different components that go in to making these completely from scratch but they are all relatively straightforward and use very basic ingredients. Also, once you’ve figured out the strawberry tart you can mix these up to use whatever fruit is in season.
These tarts are very dainty, perfect as part of afternoon tea or to enjoy whilst watching Wimbledon – which I will be doing a lot of over the next fortnight, despite yesterdays heartbreak.
I’ve only made pasty once or twice before and always find the thought of it to be much worse than actually doing it. Making pastry in the food processor was really simple and took minutes. The key is to handle it as little as possible and once it is just coming together in the processor you tip it out on to a lightly floured surface and gently press it together. The dough is then wrapped in clingfilm and left to rest for half an hour in the fridge.
One of the most delicious things about strawberry tarts from a bakery is the bright red strawberry sauce that covers the fruit. A recipe for this seems impossible to find so I went for a slightly lighter strawberry glaze. Macerating the strawberries, by mixing with sugar and leaving for an hour or so, brings out the juice whilst leaving the fruit intact. This is then boiled and reduced before being allowed to cool and brushed on to the tarts.
Now I may not have made pastry often but I am a custard expert, which is essentially what crème patissiere is. Every Christmas my job is to make the trifle (my granny’s recipe) complete with homemade custard – which is incomparable with any type of shop bought – so I’ve become a bit of an expert. Adding some vanilla bean to this adds a delicious flavour and makes it look a little fancier.
For the topping:
punnet of strawberries
50g caster sugar
For the pastry:
175g plain flour
100g cold butter, cut into small cubes
25g icing sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp cold water
For the creme patissiere:
1 vanilla pod with seeds scraped out
350 ml milk
4 egg yolks
100 g caster sugar
25 g plain flour, sifted
First things first, prep the strawberries. Cut in to quarters/slices/halves, whatever you prefer for decoration and mix together with the caster sugar. After about half an hour, tip the mixture into a sieve over bowl to collect the juice which has been extracted from the berries. Set aside.
Next make the pastry. Add flour and sugar to the food processor and blitz for 30 seconds.
Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles find breadcrumbs.
Add the egg yolk and 1 tablespoon of cold water and blitz until it starts to come together, add a little extra water is required.
When the dough has started to form a ball, stop and tip the whole lot out on to a lightly floured work surface. Gently bring the dough together into a flattened disk. Wrap with clingfilm and leave to rest in the fridge for 30 mins.
Whilst you’re waiting for the pastry so chill and relax, make the creme patissiere.
Bring the milk, vanilla beans and pod to the boil. Remove the pod and set aside to cool for a minute or so.
Whisk together the sugar, flour and egg yolks.
Slowly add the milk in to the egg mixture, whisking constantly.
Return the whole mixture to the pan and stir over a gentle heat until the custard thickens. This should take about five minutes or so. Pour the custard into a bowl and cover with clingfilm, make sure the clingfilm is touching the surface of the custard to avoid a skin forming. Place in the fridge for 30mins to cool.
Half an hour should have passed by now, so back to the pastry. First preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
Remove the clingfilm from the pastry and place it on a lightly floured board.
Start gently rolling it out from the centre, rotating a quarter turn as you go. Continue until your pastry is about 5mm thick.
Take a 7.5cm(3inch) pastry cutter and cut out 12 circles, places them into a fairy cake tin. With a fork and prick the base a few times.
Cut small squares of greaseproof paper and scrunch them up, this will allow them to sit better in the cases. Place the paper square on top of each pastry base and fill with baking beans or dried beans.
Bake for 6 mins, then remove the beans. Return to the oven and bake for another 6 mins, until the pastry is lightly browned. Remove form the oven and allow to cool.
Next is the glaze. Pour the juice/sugar mix which has drained from the strawberries in to a small pan and boil for a couple of minutes until it has reduced slightly and all of the sugar has dissolved. Pour into a bowl and allow to cool slightly.
When everything has cooled, it’s assembly time! With a teaspoon, fill the pastry shells with the creme patissiere. Top with the strawberries and use a pastry brush to spread the glaze over the fruit.