Sunday, April 12, 2009

Fresh Strawberry Tart

There are times when you need to throw subtlety out the window. There are times when all that matters is glamor inside and out - a little red dress instead of a black one, sparkly eye-shadow, high heels, a bit of lace peeking out and lots of lip gloss. You know what I'm talking about, I know you do. I'm talking about a strawberry tart.

Maybe it's all the sunshine and fresh air and maybe it's just me, but I felt daring this morning - daring and bold. My mind was occupied by one thought alone - juicy red strawberries resting on silky smooth pastry cream enclosed by a light shell of pate sable baked to the perfect shade of sweetness. There is joy in every part of this tart, a spring song waiting to be sung, a celebration. It's like that little red dress that fits you oh, so perfectly. It's pure indulgence, pure pleasure. And this is the kind of pleasure you can gift freely, which is really the best part.


Fresh strawberry tart
1 fully baked sweet tart shell
1 batch pastry cream
1 lb strawberries

Fill the tart shell with pastry cream. Hull and slice the strawberries, reserving one perfect strawberry, and arrange in a circle on top of the pastry cream. Put the one reserved strawberry in the middle.

Sweet Tart Dough
(Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home To Yours)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (9 tablespoons; 4 1/2 ounces) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk

1. Put the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in—you should have pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and some the size of peas. Stir the yolk, just to break it up, and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. When the egg is in, process in long pulses—about 10 seconds each—until the dough, which will look granular soon after the egg is added, forms clumps and curds. Just before you reach this stage, the sound of the machine working the dough will change—heads up. (Alternatively, put the ingredients into a large bowl and cut the butter into the flour with a pastry cutter and then mix in the egg with a fork). Turn the dough out onto a work surface and, very lightly and sparingly, knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing. [Irene's note: if the dough is too dry and does not come together, drizzle 1-2 tbsp of ice cold water, 1 tbsp at a time, just until you can pinch the dough together without it sticking to your fingers.]

2. To roll or press the dough into the pan: Butter a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom.

* If you want to roll the dough, chill it for about 2 hours before rolling (unless you've used frozen butter and the dough comes out of the processor firm and cold, in which case you can roll it immediately). I find it easiest to roll this dough out between two sheets of plastic film – make sure to peel away the film frequently, so it doesn't get rolled into the dough.
* If you want to use the press-in method, you can work with the dough as soon as it's processed. Just press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Don't be too heavy-handed – press the crust in so that the edges of the pieces cling to one another, but don't press so hard that the crust loses its crumbly texture.

3. Prick the bottom with a fork four or five times. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.

4. To fully bake the crust: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F.

5. Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil (or use nonstick foil) and fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust. (Since you froze the crust, you can bake it without weights.) Put the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon (or prick it with the tip of a small knife). Bake the crust for another 8 minutes or so, or until it is firm and golden brown, brown being the important word: a pale crust doesn't have a lot of flavor. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool the crust to room temperature.

Pastry Cream
(Tartine - awesome, awesome book)

2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp sugar
2 large eggs
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp vanilla extract

Pour the milk into a heavy saucepan. Add the salt, place over medium-high heat, and bring to just under a boil, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, whisk together the cornstarch and sugar. Add the eggs and whisk until smooth (don't let the eggs and sugar stand together for too long or else the sugar will cook the eggs *so I've heard*).

When the milk is ready, slowly drizzle about 1/3 of the hot milk into the egg mixture, whisking continuously. Pour the egg-milk mixture back into the hot milk and continue whisking until the custard is as thick as lightly whipped cream, about 2 minutes. The mixture must come just to the boiling point (slow bubbles, not boiling vigorously, or you will curdle the eggs, yuk). Remove from heat and immediately pour through a sieve into a bowl. Stir in the vanilla extract. Let cool for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cut the butter into 1 tbsp pieces and whisk into pastry cream 1 tbsp at a time until smooth.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, pressing directly onto the top of the cream to prevent a skin from forming and put in the refrigerator to cool.

Strawberry on Foodista

39 comments:

Elra said...

Beautiful, delicious and mouth watering tart. I love anykind of fruit tart with creme patisserie in it. Delicious Irene!
Cheers,
elra

Ramya Kiran said...

Wow, that looks outrageous!!

Sara said...

This is just beautiful! I'm sure it tastes amazing too. I noticed last week that the strawberry patch in my yard is starting to produce berries, in a few weeks I'll have enough to make this :)

nicole said...

I have serious strawberry envy right now... that looks so good!

The Food Librarian said...

OMG! Soooo beautiful!! I love this and want a slice right now!!!

onesilentwinter said...

gorgeous!

Culinary Cory said...

This is SOOO pretty. I'm going to have to try this sometime. Thanks for checking out my site.

Ingrid said...

Gorgeous strawberry tart! I loved this post it was so sassy and fresh.
~ingrid

Christine said...

Oh lordy. That cream pourer is too precious. So you've made cream puffs with Dorie's pastry cream recipe before. How did this one compare? I'm trying to lock down a definitive one and have hers saved from your post, but 6 eggs is a big commitment. Beautiful tart, Irene!

Irene said...

$7 on sale at Crate and Barrel for both the creme and sugar "cartons"! I could not help myself, I had to buy it, even though I do not strictly *need* it. I am weak, I know! :)

Dorie's pastry cream is definitely richer - with 6 eggs instead of 2, it had better be, right?! However - and I don't know if this is going to make sense - proportionally, it's not *that* much better, so if you don't need the egg whites for something else or don't want to use that many eggs, I would just make this one. I find myself reaching for this recipe more often than Dorie's, especially in the spring and summer months. I think they are both great to have in your arsenal (and they are almost the same, which makes it easy to remember). This one also tastes great with fresh fruit because its lightness does not overpower the taste of the fruit.

Bridget said...

That is gorgeous! ♥

Helene said...

Strawberries are not in season in Canada. This will be perfect when they are. Beautiful!

Alejandra said...

You arranged these so beautifully!

finsmom said...

Such a beautiful presentation!
Looks AMAZING!

gilda said...

I love fruit tarts and this looks absolutely amazing and delicious!

beachlover said...

your strawberry tart is so pretty and neat!!

Alisa@Foodista said...

That is so scandalously delicious! I just have to let the others see this, hope you wont mind but I'd love to direct Foodista readers to your site, just add this little widget here and you're all set to go :) Beautiful!

Anonymous said...

Absolutely love this tart through your brilliant way of setting up the lighting around the tart! It looks wayyyyyy too good!

Irene said...

Thank you! :D

Juliana said...

Such a nice tart! The pictures are just amazingly posted.

Mermaid Sweets said...

Wow, the tart and the photos are amazing. I am so impressed - hope I can learn to make tarts like that and take photos like that one of these days. Thanks for the inspiration.

Ash said...

WOW!!! I love this! Sooo beautiful! You're strawberries look perfect!

Jennifer said...

Hands down the most beautiful strawberry tart I have ever seen!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Elyse said...

This tart looks incredible. I love strawberries, and this dessert truly celebrates them in pure, unadulterated form. How delicious!!

Jude said...

Such an amazing presentation. I'd never be able to pull this off -- I'd probably just throw the strawberries on top due to my laziness.

Irene said...

Hmmmm Jude, I've seen your food, so I don't believe that for a minute! :)

Psychgrad said...

This looks so good! I just made a different tart but seriously considered this one. It's still on my rader for sure. I used the same dough, which was good. But the lemon cream filling was too sweet. I'd like to try this one with the strawberry configuration.

Anonymous said...

i just tried this recipe and the crust shrunk!!!! Am I the only one who tried Dorie's recipe and had shrunkage problems? everyone says it's foolproof i followed the instructions to the T but it still shrunk. Help :(

Irene said...

Sorry this happened to you! The shrinking crust is a terrible thing. Are you working with the dough in a food processor or cutting in the butter by hand? I always do it by hand, and in that case, it's important to have all the ingredients chilled very well - in fact, I usually pop the bowl with the flour into the refrigerator as well while I'm cutting up the sticks of butter. Also, it's important to give the dough the full time in the freezer. And - one thing that has sabotaged me before - when you press the aluminum foil against the crust, make sure to press it really well against the sides, so it's not loose and there aren't many gaps.

Anonymous said...

wow this looks amazing, i am making this tonight, hope is goes well! :D
what is confectioners sugar? is that just icing sugar?
beautiful!

Hannah said...

so i made this tart it looks almost as good as your, and taste amazing, the strawberries make it not to sweet. :D thanks for posting this.

Mirabelle said...

I used soy milk instead of the whole milk and the consistency comes out just as any pastry cream would. This is such as easy recipe and gets such amazing results (and great praise from my guests)! I will definitely continue to make this recipe.

Irene said...

Thanks for letting me know! What a great way to take the dairy out! I've long been wanting to re-make this tart without dairy, so this is good news for me. :)

Anonymous said...

I made this yesterday, and it tasted just as awesome as it looked! This is definitely going in my recipe file. :)

Paige said...

Thank you for this fabulous recipe! I have used it a number of times your post debuted...with several variations of fillings. It's perfect every time!

Here is my latest creation: http://arecipeforliving.wordpress.com/2010/07/06/strawberry-cho…te-mousse-tart/

Anonymous said...

is it possible to use fresh whipped cream rather than the pastry cream? or will it taste different? thanks though, it looks fabulous, my stomach is literally grumbling now!

better go back and do my homework :P

Olivia

Irene said...

Hi Olivia, it is of course possible to use whipped cream! I personally prefer pastry cream because I think it goes better with the tart crust. Pastry cream will taste differently, but I think using whipped cream in a pinch will be just fine!

Jennifurla said...

Just made this for a party, major hit - gone in seconds - I will always use this tart dough recipe and pastry cream now! thanks.

Jennifurla said...

I posted this recipe on my blog today, thanks for sharing again!