“Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.”
~ Salvador Dalí
Strawberry tarts – so pretty, so tasty, and so easy to make!
Just before I left the farm to go to the city last week I picked a bucket of fresh strawberries. They were sweet and luscious, and Bert the dog and I ate almost as many as we collected.
Once we arrived in the city we soon had our fill of strawberries straight up, or in smoothies. So I decided to use some of them to make a tart.
I know my pastry recipe off by heart, and a pastry cream recipe too – simple recipes I mastered back in my college days. The ingredients were all in my pantry or fridge. What could be so hard about a strawberry tart?
A few things… I don’t spend much time in the city anymore, so I didn’t have a pie dish, a flan dish or anything else suitable for baking a pie in. And no rolling pin for my pastry. No matter. The joy of anything ‘rustic’ is the ability to improvise.
I found a baking sheet, a few bowls, a saucepan and a full wine bottle to use as a rolling pin. Easy!
This Strawberry Tart is a simple combination of pastry, filling and fruit. I’ll give you a few variations, so you can rustle something up to suit your kitchen, your mood and your energy levels.
Totally Easy ‘Throw It All Together’ Strawberry Tart
If you want the ultimate easy dessert buy a ready-made pastry shell, and then use whipped cream or thick custard for the filling. You could even use chocolate mousse or lemon curd. Slice your strawberries and arrange over the top of the pie. If you can be bothered heat a little strawberry or apricot jam and brush over the fruit for a nice glossy finish.
Totally Easy Homemade Strawberry Tart
1 and 1/2 cups plain flour, 125 grams (1/2 cup) butter, 1 egg yolk, 1 tablespoon icing sugar (confectioners sugar), 1 to 2 tablespoons cold water. PS * finely grated lemon zest if you like your crust a little zesty!
Cut butter into small cubes. Sift sugar and flour into a bowl and then rub butter through with fingertips until it forms fine crumbs. OR process in short bursts in food processor until fine crumbs are formed. Add egg yolk and enough water for pastry to come together into a ball. Do not overmix. The dough should just come together.
I had no food processor so did the pastry by hand.
Turn out onto a floured board and pat out into a round. Wrap in plastic and place in fridge for 30 minutes to rest.
Preheat your oven to moderate (160 degree celcius fan-forced or 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit).
Roll chilled pastry between two sheets of baking paper until large enough to line a tart tin. Because I didn’t have a tin I used a bowl to make an approximation and placed my pastry directly onto the baking sheet. I then used the extra dough to build up some sides. Truly, if you have a pie shell or tart tin use it! But if you don’t, throw caution to the wind and get a little messy. Your tart will still taste fantastic.
Prick base all over with a fork. Place into fridge or freezer for 30 minutes to harden the pastry. If you are using a pie shell place a sheet of baking paper on top of the pastry and pour in some rice or dried beans so you can blind bake the case. This keeps the pie shell even and not too risen.
If you’re doing a spot of rustic baking like me, don’t bother. Just chuck it in the oven!
Bake for ten minutes if blind baking, then remove beans and paper and cook for another ten minutes until golden brown.
If rustic baking, bake for twenty minutes until golden.
Remove from oven and allow to cool.
Pastry cream is a thick smooth custard. It’s easy to make, and a delicious pie filling. It can also be used to fill choux pastry, eclairs and many other delicacies.
2 cups milk, 3 tablespoons of sugar plus 4 tablespoons of sugar, 2 egg yolks and 1 egg, 1/4 cup of cornflour, 2 tablespoons of butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* Note: Adjust sugar levels to suit your own taste. This recipe also works well with Natvia in place of sugar.
Whisk eggs, cornflour and 4 tablespoons of sugar together in a large bowl so no lumps remain. Set aside.
Place the milk and 3 tablespoons of sugar in a large saucepan and heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Do not bring the milk to a boil but make sure it is quite warm. Pour the milk over the egg mixture, whisking thoroughly and then return to saucepan. Keep stirring over medium heat until it boils and thickens. Remove from heat. Add butter and vanilla and stir well. Cool slightly and then spoon into pie shell. Keep any remaining pastry cream in fridge, covered with plastic.
Slice one to 2 cups of strawberries and arrange on top of your pie shell. Warm a few tablespoons of apricot or strawberry jam and brush or spoon over fruit to cover. This gives your tart a lovely glossy appearance and helps keep the cut fruit fresh.
Eats well on its own but would also be delicious with a good ice-cream or some fresh cream.